NO AnnaK-Steffi Matchup ???
She came, fans saw, Anna conquered
Kournikova teams up for triumph in mixed doubles
By Melody Gutierrez -- Bee Staff Writer
Published 2:15 am PDT Monday, July 11, 2005
Andre Agassi has played here. Martina Navratilova has, too. But neither of those tennis legends received the same degree of attention from fans and media as Anna Kournikova did at Allstate Stadium on Sunday.
Every time she smiled or waved, a camera flash lit up from one of the 4,102 fans in attendance. With each stroke of her racket, a proposal from a fan.
There was also an outpour of support from the area's Russian community, following the Capitals' 20-14 win over the Philadelphia Freedoms.
"I had great support here," Kournikova, 24, said of her first visit to Sacramento
Kournikova is one of 16 World TeamTennis marquee players. In her third season with the league, she said she was thrilled to learn the Capitals had drafted her this season.
"It's obviously very cool to be on a team with such a great record (historically)," Kournikova said.
Several members of the area's Russian community filled the nearly sold-out Allstate Stadium, including three 20-something beauties eager to see their favorite blonde on the court.
"We came just for Anna," said Yelena Mayboroda, 21, of Folsom by way of Ukraine. "We follow tennis and we follow her because she's Russian and we support her. She inspires us to play and she's really pretty."
The group shouted words of encouragement in Russian when Kournikova took the court in mixed doubles.
"I hear them," Kournikova said between sets. "That's pretty cool." Mayboroda and her two gal pals weren't the only Kournikova fans at Allstate Stadium with a native country in common.
"My friend called me and said did you know Anna was playing in Sacramento? I said, let's go," said Aleksandr Raku, 20, of Antelope, who was born in Moldova, Russia. "I had heard of the Capitals but I hadn't come out here before." Raku's friend Oleg Kalvagin, 20, was armed with a tennis ball and Sharpie, waiting for the chance to get Kournikova's signature.
"I'd never heard of the Capitals before this," Kalvagin said.
That didn't surprise Capitals coach Wayne Bryan, who said he expected that about one-third of Sunday evening's fans would be watching their first professional tennis match.
"That's what's great about WTT and Anna," Bryan said.
One thing the players enjoy about WTT is when the league reunites old friends.
Such was the case with Kournikova and Elena Likhovtseva, Russian-born players who had played women's doubles together briefly. Sunday, they paired up against Elena Tatarkova and Carly Guillickson, losing 5-0. The loss didn't sour Likhovtseva's excitement to see her old friend.
"I haven't seen her in a while," Likhovtseva said. "She is in great shape and she's playing great. I saw her in Paris and she was so excited. She said we'd have fun."
Kournikova said she was also excited to have the opportunity to play mixed doubles with Mark Knowles, who she played with on the tour when she was 16 years old.
"I've known them both for about 10 years," Kournikova said after defeating the Freedoms in mixed doubles 5-2 with Knowles.
During women's singles, Kournikova was Likhovtseva's biggest fan while her compatriot defeated Guillickson 5-1.
Sam Warburg chose a great night to play strong, defeating John Paul Fruttero in men's singles in a 5-4 tiebreaker.
In men's doubles, Warburg and Knowles defeated Fruttero and Josh Eagle 5-2.
The Capitals head to Houston on Tuesday with Kournikova to play the Wranglers in a match featuring Steffi Graff.
"The big question everyone wants to know is if Anna will play singles against Steffi Graff," Bryan said. "You heard it here first folks. No."
The Capitals return home Sunday against the Hartford FoxForce and marquee player Boris Becker.
Other faves are-Hingis, Pierce, Myskina & Dementieva
|Ain't no party like a ...COCKTAIL PARTY!|D' Express_020|
Last edited by AK-DH Fan; Jul 11th, 2005 at 08:55 PM.