Sugiyama and Morita named to Olympic Team
TOKYO (AP) -- Ai Sugiyama has been named to the Japan team for her fourth Olympics.
Sugiyama and Ayumi Morita were named Thursday to Japan's tennis squad for the Beijing Olympics.
The 32-year-old Sugiyama qualified for the Beijing Olympics in both the women's singles and doubles based on the world rankings released on June 9.
She has six singles titles and 36 doubles titles in a WTA Tour career that began in 1992.
Morita, ranked No. 99 in doubles (as of June 9), may be seen as something of a surprise, given that Japan has two athletes, Akiko Morigami (No. 87 doubles) and Aiko Nakamura (No. 84 doubles, No. 78 singles), who are higher ranked.
Sugiyama and Morita have teamed in the past for Fed Cup events, but the WTA usually instructs tennis federations to select their highest-ranked players for Olympic events.
Morigami and Nakamura, however, were involved in a bit of controversy at Roland Garros just before the June 9 world rankings were released. Morigami said one of her coaches wanted Nakamura freed up so she could compete in another tournament in singles with a chance to improve her ranking. Nakamura was ranked 71st before Roland Garros, close to the then-cutoff for making the Olympics.
Morigami and Nakamura lost their first-round match at Roland Garros to Chan Yung-jan and Chuang Chia-Jung of Chinese Taipei 6-0, 6-1. Morigami later told reporters that she was misunderstood in implying that the coach had asked her to throw the match and that she and Nakamura had given their best efforts to win. The ITF released a statement that it, "has zero tolerance for any attempt to influence the outcome of a match. It is especially disappointing for the ITF because even the suggestion of impropriety regarding the Olympic tennis event is contrary to the spirit of the Olympic Games."
The Kyodo News has reported that the Japanese Tennis Federation will nominate Morigami and Nakamura in addition to men's players Kei Nishikori and Go Soeda for one of the spots not guaranteed by the June 9 world rankings. That decision from the ITF is expected to come in July.
Last edited by alwayshingis; Jun 19th, 2008 at 10:17 PM.