View Full Version : Players think about war, but focus on tennis

Mar 20th, 2003, 07:51 PM
Players think about war, but focus on tennis
March 20 2003
The Miami Herald

The tranquil, pristine Tennis Center at Crandon Park seemed as far from turmoil in Iraq as one could ever imagine, but NASDAQ-100 Open players from around the globe Wednesday were keenly aware of the war.

Their perceptions varied Wednesday -- before the U.S. strike on Iraq.

''As players, we don't really feel uncomfortable yet,'' said Gustavo Kuerten, 26, of Brazil. 'You hear things in the players' lounge and keep up with the news, but so far, it's business as usual and we don't feel any big difference around the grounds.

``All we can do is pray, wait, and hope for the best and that it will end quickly. We don't have any influence on what's going on. We are in the hands of more important people and we have to just wait and see.''

But Mariano Zabaleta, 25, of Argentina, said he was more than uncomfortable.

''I'm worried,'' Zabaleta said. ``Everything is involved here -- Spain and England and the United States. That means this could become World War III.''

Todd Martin, 32, from Ponte Vedra Beach, said he felt safe. ''I feel like our country has been able to prepare for whatever might come next, if anything does come next on our soil,'' Martin said. ``And with regard to should we be competing, absolutely. It's important we all understand the gravity of the situation in the Middle East, the predicament and the challenge that is ahead of our military forces and others.

``But it's important that we go about our business and show them our world is not stopping because of a conflict.''

Jan-Michael Gambill, 25, of Colbert, Wash., said he, too, was in tune with developments and was trying to remain focused on tennis.

''I'm a true American, so I'm very aware of what's going on,'' Gambill said. ``I want to stay on top of the news. But I'm an athlete; this is a tennis tournament and I have to keep those two things very separate.

``The fans are here to have a good time. I'm here to play tennis and I'm not going to let it worry me.''

Right at home

Last year right about this time, a security guard at the Key Colony Condominium on Key Biscayne kicked Pete Sampras off the court there. Sampras had permission from USTA official Lynne Rolley, a resident there, to use the court for warm-ups, but the security guard didn't realize who Sampras was and sent the 14-time Grand Slam champion packing.

The condo association was so embarrassed it contacted NASDAQ-100 Open tournament officials and offered the condo's 12 hardcourts as a warm-up site. The condo is a short ride -- or long walk -- from the Tennis Center at Crandon Park.

NASDAQ took the condo up on the offer and is carting players to the condo throughout the tournament. Wednesday's visitors included Martina Navratilova and Lindsay Davenport. In exchange for letting players use the courts, the tournament offered condo residents tickets, caps, and an autograph session with players.

''It's a match made in heaven,'' said condo board member Mike McCoy, whose daughter Mateya plays tennis at Princeton. ``Talk about turning disaster to opportunity.''

Hot stuff

How hot was it on the court Wednesday? So hot the WTA Extreme Weather Condition Rule was in effect. The rule allows players to take a 10-minute break between the second and third set when the heat stress index is at or above 82 degrees.

Wednesday's heat index hit 106.

For the record, nobody requested the extra time out

Mar 20th, 2003, 07:55 PM
Its hard to believe that a few weeks ago, there were tours in Dubai and Doha, and now these are the places were tanks are stationed.

Mar 21st, 2003, 09:57 AM
everybody is talking about the war and it is non-stop on tv. my mom doesn't even watch it anymore because she says that a lot of innonce people will die and the person who they want will be alive osama bin laden is also still free.
I don't think that I could play tennis if I were a tennis player. My sister is in rome for 3 days she decided not to change her plans. I'm not from the us but do you feel safe over there. I hope you do because and don't let anything take the joy of life away.