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bwguy
Mar 23rd, 2003, 12:36 PM
Anna's in and Paulo replaces Raymond....

Kournikova's entry adds sizzle
By MIC HUBER

SARASOTA -- Over the last several months, tournament officials at the Sarasota Clay Court Classic have slowly cooked up one of the strongest fields of any Women's Tennis Association event its size.

Now, as the start of the $140,000 event rapidly approaches, they have suddenly added the sizzle.

Anna Kournikova, one of the best-known names in women's tennis throughout the world, has been given a wild card into the Sarasota event to be played March 31-April 6 at The Meadows Country Club.

Kournikova's entry complements a field that had already included a trio of Grand Slam singles winners plus nine players currently ranked in the top 25 of the world.

Defending champion Jelena Dokic, Sarasota's Mary Pierce and Conchita Martinez are just a few names that capture the imagination of true tennis fans. But none approach the excitement that can be generated among the casual fans like Kournikova.

Despite not having won a WTA event since joining the tour in 1995, the tall 21-year-old Russian is one of the most popular players in tennis. In 2001 and 2002 she was ranked as the most popular sports figure, according to Web searches by Lycos users. She also made People Magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People list in 1998.

"We are tremendously excited to have one of the most recognizable names in the sports world compete in our tournament," Sarasota Clay Court Classic Tournament Director Lesley Eckert said about Kournikova's entry. "With the main draw already consisting of some of the top names in tennis, the addition of Anna Kournikova further solidifies this event as one of the top Tier IV tournaments in the world."

Also joining the field is Paulo Suarez, who takes the place of Lisa Raymond, who entered, then withdrew before arriving in Sarasota for the second year in a row. Suarez, along with Virginia Ruano Pascual, picked up the WTA award this week as the top doubles team on the tour in 2002.

Kournikova returns to the area where she spent five years honing her game as a student at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Bradenton.

She was at Bollettieri's from 1992 to 1997 before moving to Miami. She is now coached by Harold Solomon.

While Kournikova has yet to win a singles title, she has won two Grand Slam doubles titles. Both came at the Australian Open, in 1999 and 2000, with Martina Hingis.

Tournament officials, expecting a big response from Kournikova's entry, will be staffing the office telephones today. Tickets may be purchased by calling 941-894-0040 or log onto www.sarasotaclaycourtclassic.com for more information.

The tournament kicked off with a prequalifying event this weekend at the Longwood Run Tennis Club. The qualifying tournament will be held March 29-31 at The Meadows Country Club. The main draw opens March 31, and Kournikova figures to be the center of attention.

Kournikova began playing tennis at the age of 5 in Russia and arrived at Bollettieri's at the age of 10. She made her tour debut in 1995, winning her first match. She became only the second woman in the Open era to reach the semifinals at Wimbledon in her debut. Chris Evert, in 1972, was the other.

She was ranked No. 1 in doubles in 1999 and has reached four singles finals on the WTA tour.

Reaching a singles-high ranking of No. 8 in 2000, Kournikova has been plagued by injury the past three years. This year a back injury forced Kournikova to pull out of Indian Wells and Memphis. She lost in the first round this past week at the Nasdaq-100 in Miami.

Off the court, Kournikova has appeared in music videos and movies and was named "Sexiest Woman of the Year" in 2002 by FHM (For Him Magazine), an award normally reserved for fashion models.

The tournament field now includes five players in the top 20, nine in the top 25 and 12 in the top 30.

http://www.heraldtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/artikkel?SearchID=73129727199629&Avis=SH&Dato=20030323&Kategori=NEWS&Lopenr=303230478&Ref=AR

Yak
Mar 23rd, 2003, 12:47 PM
I kind of expected this to happen! I happy :D

Meesh
Mar 23rd, 2003, 12:55 PM
I did too, but now I wish I had bought my tickets earlier! My plan was to go on the championship weekend and buy tickets at the gate or off of someone. I'm going to qualifying this weekend. I didn't know there was pre-qualifying :( I was in Bradenton most of the week visiting my dad! I could of caught some matches!

TatiAnnahølic
Mar 23rd, 2003, 01:01 PM
Great Anna! :D

The Guilty
Mar 23rd, 2003, 01:49 PM
I'm so happy :D
I hope Anna can have a good time here :)

Go Anna. :bounce: :bounce: :bounce:

auntie janie
Mar 23rd, 2003, 02:00 PM
Paolita! :hearts:

King Aaron
Mar 23rd, 2003, 05:11 PM
Hopefully Anna makes use of her wildcard fully.

monster
Mar 23rd, 2003, 09:38 PM
Great that paola is here. I don't get how she replaces Lisa R though?

She wasn't in 'next in list' and it sounds like her entry isn't a wildcard.

How does this work?

Thanks

vogus
Mar 25th, 2003, 05:33 PM
monster - Paola is on the Silver Exempt List which allows her priority to get into the tournament ahead of previously entered players at Tier 2 events and lower.

Shooter
Mar 29th, 2003, 01:50 AM
If so, with who?

Benny
Mar 29th, 2003, 06:52 AM
Good Luck Paola:D!