May 5 Article: Anna's here, but ...
Anna's here, but ...
Mon, May 5, 2003
Tournament closed to public
By KEVIN PRICE
The Brunswick News
When it was announced last weekend that Anna Kournikova was scheduled to compete in the second annual Cloister Cup on Sea Island, a small women's tennis tournament that wouldn't normally draw much interest outside of tennis circles suddenly became a big tournament generating attention from around the world.
As a result, officials at Sea Island have decided that unless you're a member, a guest at the resort, or work for the media, you won't be able to attend the tournament.
Before Kournikova entered the field, this week's United States Tennis Association Professional Circuit tournament was open to the public and probably would have drawn just a small crowd each day. But her entry has prompted Sea Island officials to restrict the tournament to their members and guests of the resort only, to hopefully avoid the carnival-like atmosphere that might have occurred otherwise.
"Before, this was an intimate little tournament and it will be the same way in the future. We probably won't ever get this kind of deal again," Sea Island teaching pro Dickie Anderson said. "We want to preserve the spirit of the tournament and be able to host one of the most famous female athletes in the world at the same time.
"We could have ended up with crowd control problems because this facility just isn't built for this type of hoopla. This thing has stirred up so much interest among the members and resort guests alone that we'll have a far better crowds as it is."
The buzz created by Kournikova entering the tournament has been the talk of Sea Island in recent days:
* All last week, employees at The Cloister tennis facility took phone calls from people wanting to know if Kournikova was really coming and when she would be playing.
* Media members were calling to request credentials. Others were calling to see if volunteers were needed to work the tournament.
* Rooms at The Cloister hotel have apparently been selling like hot cakes for this week.
* Many of the plans that Sea Island had already made in anticipation of the event had to be changed. Issues relating to seating, parking, security and much more had to be addressed. New plans had to be made, and they had to be finalized quickly.
"No question, there's been a different atmosphere over here than I've ever seen, and I've been here 22 years," Anderson said. "It's pretty exciting."
No longer is this a quiet little tennis tournament. It has become much more than that, but this is what you get and what should be expected when one of the world's most recognized sports figures throws her name into the main draw of your tournament.
Kournikova, ranked No. 67 in the world, is recovering from a torn abductor muscle in her thigh. The injury forced the 21-year-old Russian, known more for her looks than her forehands and backhands, to retire in the second set of her first match at the Family Circle Cup in Charleston, S.C., April 9.
She was scheduled to compete in a USTA circuit tournament two weeks ago in Dothan, Ala., but had to withdraw from the event. Her participation in this week's tournament, a $25,000 event, is part of her continued rehabilitation from the injury as she prepares for the French Open later this month in Paris. The clay surface at Sea Island is the same as that she will see at the French.
Anderson said one of the courts will be transformed into a stadium court, which required a fence between two courts to be taken down so that temporary bleachers could be brought in. Seating will be provided for roughly 400 spectators on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Kournikova was expected to arrive on Sea Island late Sunday afternoon, and she will most likely appear at the tennis center Monday for practice. Her first match is at 5 p.m. Wednesday.
The 32-player singles tournament will begin on Tuesday and will continue through the finals on Sunday.
A doubles tournament also is scheduled to start Tuesday with the finals set for Saturday.
A qualifying tournament for the final four spots in the singles main draw began on Sunday, while a qualifying tournament for the doubles main draw was set to be played on Monday.
In addition to Kournikova, the world's No. 43 ranked player, Amy Frazier, is also entered in this week's tournament.
Frazier, who plays at 5 p.m. Tuesday, made it to the quarterfinals of the Australian Open in 1992 and also advanced to the quarterfinals in the 1995 U.S. Open. She reached the fourth round of the U.S. Open last summer.
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