Back to basics for Anna
By Patrick Hruby
Special to Page 2
After years of enriching others -- the WTA, the paparazzi, the cast of "Me, Myself and Irene," the staff of Page 2 -- Anna Kournikova has finally decided to invest in herself.
The stakes are low, but the pressure is still on Anna.
Rather than accept a wild-card berth into the $1.2 million German Open in Berlin, which is this week's big-money stop on the women's tour, the top model in tennis is slumming it at a USTA minor league tournament in Sea Island, Ga., where the grand prize is a piddling little $3,000.
Kournikova, whose world ranking has slipped from No. 8 to No. 72, has flopped in the first round of her last three WTA tournaments. In an effort to rebuild her patchy game and sagging confidence, she's dropping down to the minors -- much as top-ranked Andre Agassi did after his ranking slipped to No. 141 five years ago.
Will Kournikova bounce back? In the interest of her continued ... er, bouncing, Page 2 wishes her the best. And should she win at Sea Island, we have a few suggestions regarding the use of that prize money.
A Copy of Brad Gilbert's "Winning Ugly"
Cost: $9.60 on Amazon.com. Plus free super-saver shipping. You can't beat that!
The Price is Right: Gilbert, a former ATP pro, was renowned for taking down the tour's top guns -- even though his strokes would have been more at home in a low-budget slasher flick. And as a coach, Gilbert helped revitalize Agassi's career. Surely his wit and wisdom can do the same for the spotty Kournikova, who has the "losing ugly" part down pat. During a first-round loss at last year's U.S. Open, she actually plopped a serve into her own service box.
Caveat Emptor: Unless she sprouts a beard and/or tumbles into a vat of face-burning acid a lathe Joker, Kournikova will never literally win ugly. Still, you get the idea. Also, this assumes that Kournikova has both the time and the inclination to read a book between fashion shoots and music video cameos. Which is a pretty big assumption.
A Trophy Case
Cost: $400-to-$2,100 at trophycentral.com.
The Price is Right: Nothing says "forget the press, you're the big winner!" quite like a display case brimming with bright n' shiny trophies. And after winning at Sea Island, Kournikova will need a place to store all three of her minor-league singles titles. Lest she forget her one shining moments in Midland, Texas and Rockford, Ill.
Caveat Emptor: Case may look a little bare compared to those of Anna Smashnova, Kveta Hrdlickova, Joannette Kruger, Natasia Gthovebiska, Zsofia Gubacsi and Fabiola Zuluaga -- all of whom have won actual, real-life WTA tour events. Except for Gthovebiska, who we made up.
What do you have to do for a backstage pass?
Enrique Iglesias Concert Tickets
Cost: Prices vary, depending on availability.
The Price is Right: Perfect way to spend time with Latin heart-throb and rumored beau Iglesias. Besides, Detroit Red Wings playoff tickets are no longer available.
Caveat Emptor: Earplugs ($8.95, earplugstore.com) not included.
A Retainer for Lionel Hutz
Cost: Cheap. Comes with guarantee of cases won in 30 minutes, or your pizza is free.
The Price is Right: The perfect attorney to handle secret divorce proceedings. Plus, unscrupulous magazines will have to think twice about running alleged topless photos of Kournikova. After all, who wants to tangle with a "law-taking guy" who has degrees from Yale, Harvard, MIT, Oxford, the Sorbonne and the Louvre?
Caveat Emptor: Hutz -- a.k.a. Miguel Sanchez, a.k.a. Dr. Nguyen Van Falk -- isn't real. Then again, neither were the Penthouse pics! (So we've heard).
Cost: Varies. More than Hutz. Which isn't saying much.
The Price is Right: The next time those ignorant, ungracious louts at the BBC want to ask infuriating questions about Kournikova's latest desultory loss -- or those tabloid jackals want the scoop on her most-recent romance -- she'll be ready with a tension-defusing cliché. Such as "both teams played hard." Or something along those lines.
Anna's glamorous nemesis looms large -- and we wanted to use this photo again.
Caveat Emptor: The ever-surly Kournikova might begin to enjoy her post-match press conferences. Where's the fun in that?
An Autographed Copy of Kournikova's FHM Swimsuit Cover
The Price is Right: A not-so-subtle reminder that even though she can't win, Kournikova still commands the panting attention of second-tier men's glossies -- and their bug-eyed readers -- the world over.
Caveat Emptor: For how long? Given her recent Page 2 survey tattooing at the hands of Jennie Finch, the sun may be setting on Kournikova's tenure as the sports world's reigning hottie. Which means that future photo spreads will have to run in third-rate publications. Like, say, Page 2. Right, Anna?
Patrick Hruby is a sportswriter for the Washington Times. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.