A fit 46, Navratilova tackles tennis league
By Michael D. Schaffer
Inquirer Staff Writer
Martina Navratilova did the whole active retirement thing.
She took up woodworking and made tables. She got a pilot's license. She learned Swahili. She took care of her dogs.
She also kept in shape. Such good shape that she thought it would be a shame to waste it.
So three years ago, Navratilova, the dominant female singles player of her day before retiring in 1994, took up another retirement project: playing world-class doubles tennis.
On Sunday, Navratilova, 46, claimed her 20th Wimbledon title, partnering with Leander Paes to win the mixed doubles competition.
The victory tied her with Billie Jean King for most Wimbledon championships and made her the oldest player ever to win a Grand Slam title.
Navratilova will play for the Philadelphia Freedoms of World Team Tennis (cofounded by King) in a match at 7 tonight against the Hartford FoxForce at Cabrini College.
The Freedoms, trying to rebound after dropping their first two matches of the season earlier this week to the Delaware Smash, couldn't ask for a more enthusiastic reinforcement than Navratilova, who will play several matches for the team.
Twenty-five years after she won her first Grand Slam singles title at Wimbledon, Navratilova is still flush with rookie zeal.
She talks about tennis as if she were charging the net. The words come tumbling out in a rapid-fire volley, but with no backspin.
"I'm having a good time," she said in a teleconference with reporters yesterday.
Navratilova, a native of Prague, Czechoslovakia, who became a U.S. citizen in 1981, said she has joked that she may keep playing tennis until she collects Social Security. "I'm only three years away from AARP," she said.
What motivates her to keep going?
Certainly not retirement restlessness. "Bored is not in my dictionary," she said.
What moves Navratilova is the act of trying.
"It's not the result, it's the process," she said. "The process is what I'm really enjoying. I feel I'm still improving and getting better and still learning things about the game, but mostly just reaching the form that I used to have a few years back... .
"What's always motivated me is doing my best and really seeing how good that can be."
Now that she's older, she said, she trains a little differently than she did in her younger days. "I'm not training harder, but training smarter," she said. Her training regimen now emphasizes quickness, she said.
She hasn't quite absorbed her Wimbledon accomplishment.
"I haven't really had time to let it settle in," she said. "After the champions' dinner [at Wimbledon] and traveling all night back to Florida and catching up on things to do, I really haven't even had a chance to say 'Hey, this is really amazing,' other than on the plane. It made the trip back a lot more enjoyable."
Navratilova, who plans to play in the U.S. Open later this summer, said she doesn't know yet if she will return to Wimbledon as a competitor next year.
Now that she has won there again, people are telling her she should defend her title. She said she'll make up her mind about that at the end of this year.
"It's very tempting to play. It's tempting not to play," she said.
Winning at Wimbledon for a 21st time would be icing on the cake. But winning there this year "wasn't the icing on the cake. It was the cake."
In the meantime, she's looking forward to playing for the Freedoms.
This will be Navratilova's 12th season of WTT play.
"Team tennis I love because it's fast, exciting and every point counts," she said. "It's not just winning a match; you want to win by as much as possible because they count in the end.
"Playing all five events [men's and women's singles, men's and women's doubles and mixed doubles] in one night and watching everyone play and cheer people on is great. I really like the whole package."
How would Navratilova in her prime have fared against the Williams sisters, the dominant female singles players of this day?
"I think I would win some and I would lose some," she said. Venus and Serena Williams "obviously have more power than I had." Navratilova points out, however, that she moved well and made few unforced errors. Her lefthanded serve also would have been an advantage.
But that's the world of what-if. Back in the real world, Navratilova is still on the court, trying.
Jul 10th, 2003, 09:37 AM
Freedoms lose in World Team Tennis opener
Compiled By The Inquirer Staff
The Freedoms, Philadelphia's entry in the World Team Tennis pro league, lost to the Delaware Smash, 18-16, last night in the season opener for both teams at the DuPont Country Club in Wilmington.
Scott Humphries and Paul Goldstein of the Smash defeated Nathan Healey and Andrew Florent of the Freedoms in doubles play to give Delaware the victory.
The teams will meet again at 7 tonight, this time at Cabrini College in Radnor, the Freedoms' home court.
Before tonight's match, WTT cofounder Billie Jean King will celebrate the 30-year anniversary of her "Battle of the Sexes" match with Bobby Riggs. Advanta, a league sponsor, will give away junior-size tennis racquets to children ages 4 to 12.
WTT features some of the sport's top stars playing in a team format. The schedule continues until July 27, with the season-ending championships slated for Aug. 23.
The Freedoms' top name this season is Martina Navratilova, a winner Sunday in mixed doubles at Wimbledon. Navratilova won her 20th Wimbledon title, tying the record held by King.
She is expected to play her first WTT match on Thursday when the Freedoms host the Hartford FoxForce.
On July 16, Anna Kournikova will make her WTT debut for the Kansas City Explorers during a road match against the Freedoms. On July 19, Navratilova will compete against John McEnroe in mixed doubles when the Freedoms visit the New York Sportimes.
Other standouts playing in the 2003 WTT season include Andre Agassi of the Sacramento Capitals, Andy Roddick of the St. Louis Aces, Boris Becker of the New York Buzz, Lindsay Davenport and Maria Sharapova of the Newport Beach Breakers.
On Monday, Becker will visit the Freedoms.
Jul 10th, 2003, 09:45 AM
Breakers finally see light
The Newport team tennis squad beats Sacramento, 23-14, after overcoming lighting problems at the Palisades Tennis Club.
By AL BALDERAS
The Orange County Register
NEWPORT BEACH – What is opening night without a glitch?
The Newport Beach Breakers will never know.
Last week's rehearsals went as planned, but when it was time for Orange County's new World Team Tennis squad to play in front of its home crowd, electricians were called in for overtime duty. Ten minutes before the curtain was supposed to go up for the 7 p.m. start on center court at the Palisades Tennis Club, the lights went out.
The match started 20 minutes later than scheduled - without lights - giving those in attendance a chance to refill their drinks.
"You'd be amazed at what happens in team tennis," Breakers player Brian MacPhie said. "Funny things have happened in the past. Not like this, though."
MacPhie was forced to play part of his men's singles match against Sacramento's Daniel Nestor in the dark, but he managed to win, 5-3.
"It was truly bad," MacPhie said. "We pride ourselves on the ability to see the spin from the other guy. Returning serves was easy, but when you set up and hit the ball, it's hard."
Lindsay Davenport, who trains at Palisades, received the loudest ovation from the crowd, which looked more at home in a luxury suite than a tennis court. But even the local darling had some moments of darkness when the lights failed to cooperate.
Davenport led Elena Likhovtseva, 3-0, in the women's singles match when the lights went out for the seventh, and final, time. Instead of canceling the rest of the match, officials moved the players and fans to a practice court.
"Go to court six? I'm going home," one fan said during the trek to the other court.
About one-third of the capacity crowd of about 2,000 stuck around to watch Davenport finish off Likhovtseva in a tie-breaker and applauded the efforts of the Breakers, who beat the Capitals, 23-14.
"When Brian was playing, I thought they were going to stop it," Davenport said. "Then they didn't. At 3-0, I thought they were going to stop it. I thought it (the lighting problem) was a shame because they put so much effort into this. I think it was really tough on everybody."
In addition to her singles victory, Davenport also teamed with Maria Sharapova to beat Ally Baker and Likhovtseva in women's doubles. Davenport and Josh Eagle closed out the match with a mixed doubles victory over Likhovtseva and Mark Knowles.
Defending WTT champion Sacramento got its only victory in men's doubles. Nestor and Knowles beat MacPhie and Eagle.
The Breakers and WTT announced that fans in attendance will be able to exchange their ticket stubs for a free ticket to a future non-marquee match. The ticket exchange will not be good for the match against Springfield on Saturday or the matches July 15 (John McEnroe) and July 26 (Martina Navratilova).
Davenport's final match of the season will be Saturday.
Sacramento starts with win
Newcomer Daniel Nestor records victories in singles and men's doubles.
By Melody Gutierrez -- Bee Staff Writer
Published 2:15 a.m. PDT Tuesday, July 8, 2003
After entering the gates of the Sunrise Mall tennis court where the Capitals kicked off their 18th season Monday night, you couldn't tell you were in a parking lot.
That was besides the towering Macy's building to the right. And by the fan interaction and the humorous remarks from the announcers, you really couldn't tell you were at a tennis match. That was, of course, besides the game at center court.
"This is much better than when they played at Gold River Racquet Club," said John Malone, who has been a Capitals fan for years.
The Capitals began their second season at Sunrise Mall with a 23-17 win over the Newport Beach Breakers, and the 3,831 in attendance witnessed several World TeamTennis firsts.
It was the first match for the Breakers, who joined the league this year. It was the Capitals debuts of Ally Baker and Daniel Nestor. It was also the first time the Capitals were staring at Brian MacPhie from the other side of the net.
The Capitals traded MacPhie, their three-time Most Valuable Player, for Nestor in April. Before a ball was hit, MacPhie was given a warm reception from fans and the team he represented for seven years. He received hugs from the Sacramento players and gifts from the team.
"I didn't expect anything, but the (crowd) seemed to be pretty nice," said MacPhie.
In mixed doubles, Likhovtseva and Knowles paired against the Breakers' Eva Dyrberg and Josh Eagle for a 5-4 (5-2) tiebreaker win that put the Capitals ahead 18-13 entering the most anticipated set of the night -- men's doubles.
The Capitals showcased the No. 2 men's doubles team in the world, Nestor and Mark Knowles. It was the first time in World TeamTennis that doubles partners who were once ranked No. 1 in the world chose to compete together.
And compete they did.
Nestor and Knowles won 5-4 (5-2) in a tiebreaker to cap Sacramento's victory.
"They came out tough," Knowles said. "But we took every opportunity when it was there."
In men's singles, Nestor showed why the Capitals wanted him. And Nestor did it against MacPhie, the man he was traded for. Nestor, who holds 83 singles titles, posted a 5-1 win over MacPhie, who holds 27 singles titles.
"I didn't know what was at stake before I got here," said Nestor. "I got here and realized how much Sacramento liked (MacPhie) and that he had some really good years here."
In women's doubles, the 17-year-old Baker teamed with Elena Likhovtseva to take on the Breakers' Dyrberg and 16-year-old Russian sensation Maria Sharapova, who reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon. The Newport Beach duo won 5-3.
"I was nervous," said Baker. "But I had fun. The crowd was really pulling from me, so that helped."
Women's singles led off the action, with Likhovtseva taking on Sharapova. Likhovtseva may be 12 years Sharapova's senior, but she had no problem serving up a 5-3 win.
"It's the first night of the season, but playing here with the home crowd pumped me up," said Likhovtseva.
The Capitals won't have that luxury tonight, when they face the Breakers in Newport Beach.
"It helps to have home court," said Baker. "The more (the fans) cheer for you, the more you feel like you can win it."
Tonight at the Palisades Tennis Club, the Breakers will have marquee player Lindsay Davenport, the former Capital.
"Boy, I'll tell you, they were a tough team," said Capitals coach Wayne Bryan. "We're going to have our hands full with Lindsay Davenport."
The Capitals' next home match is at 7:30 p.m. Friday against the Delaware Smash, whose roster includes Liezel Huber, Paul Goldstein, Samantha Reeves and Scott Humphries.
Jul 10th, 2003, 10:29 AM
http://www.sacbee.com/ips_rich_content/735-caps.jpg Winning a point in women's doubles brings a smile to the Capitals' Ally Baker, but she and partner Elena Likhovtseva lost the set.
Coach Picks His Spots
Plays It By Ear With FoxForce
July 8, 2003
By ROBERTO GONZALEZ, Courant Staff Writer
World Team Tennis allows fans to experience the game in a different way, with loud music and the ability to cheer and scream during points. It also allows coaches who have never dealt with top players to coach some of the best.
But how does one coach such high-caliber players who probably have heard just about everything?
"I've been asked that before," said new Hartford FoxForce coach Peter Bradshaw. "I don't know how exactly I'm going to approach it. But one of the areas I think I have the most experience in is team management, such as running practices. I do think that with this type of format, I might have some insight that might help them."
Bradshaw will be coaching a FoxForce team that includes marquee players James Blake and Meghann Shaughnessy. He takes over for Trinity College squash coach Paul Assaiante, who decided he needed his summer off.
The FoxForce and Shaughnessy open the season today at 6:30 p.m. against Patrick McEnroe and the New York Sportimes. The Foxforce play through July 27 and will be playing their home matches at the Blue Fox Run Golf Course in Avon.
Bradshaw, 38, was the men's tennis coach at Springfield College in Massachusetts in 1996-2001. He also coached the women's team in 1997-99. He led the men's team to a second-place finish in the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference and the women's team to a 13th-place finish in the New England Division III tournament.
He played No.1 singles and doubles at Ithaca College.
He stopped coaching in college when his other job started to take up more time. Bradshaw teaches physical education at the Center School in Longmeadow, Mass. He also is married and has two young children.
Bradshaw, who grew up in Avon, has known FoxForce owner Lisa Wilson-Foley for a while, and when he heard Assaiante decided not to return, he applied for the job. In April, he was announced as the new FoxForce coach.
"I think what worked for me in college is I tried to sit down with the players and let them tell me what they'd like to hear," Bradshaw said. "Do they want encouragement or advice during a match? Other players don't want to hear anything during a match."
A WTT coach also decides the order of play in home matches. There are men's and women's singles, men's doubles, mixed doubles and women's doubles. If a team is stronger in doubles, a home coach may decide to start with that, though a lot also depends on the marquee player.
The coach also must consider promoting the sport.
"With someone like Meghann Shaughnessy or James Blake, they'll most likely play first," Bradshaw said. "It will also depend on a couple of other factors or anything media related."
Bradshaw is looking forward to the home matches against Andre Agassi, who will play for the Sacramento Capitals July 26, and Martina Navratilova, who will play for the Philadelphia Freedoms July 20.
The WTT championship is Aug. 23 at the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y., with the top teams from the Eastern Conference and Western Conference competing for the King Trophy.
Coaching especially comes into play when the marquee players leave the team. Shaughnessy has committed to play two home and two away matches with the FoxForce, while Blake is expected to play only one home match.
A team can go from having the No.2 player in the world, to a team full of low-ranked players.
The FoxForce have always struggled at the end of the season.
"We're hoping to step that up," Bradshaw said. "We have some good doubles players. During the draft, I told Lisa we need doubles specialists, because that's where you often win or lose your match in this format."
One of the stronger doubles players on the team is Jeff Tarango, who has a fiery on-court personality, which has gotten him in trouble. He was banned from Wimbledon for a year after he called a chair umpire "corrupt" and stormed off the court in the middle of a match in 1995.
"He could be good for the league," Bradshaw said. "His on-court antics could be good entertainment as long as it's in good taste. Hopefully, he'll be a crowd-pleaser and he'll add a lot of fire to the matches."
Spoken like a true WTT coach.
Jul 10th, 2003, 10:47 AM
Tarango, Huss Seal Victory For FoxForce
July 9, 2003
By LORI RILEY, Courant Staff Writer
AVON -- Jeff Tarango lunged forward for a return during his men's doubles match Tuesday night when a strange thing happened.
The ball lodged itself in the hole between the head and handle of his racket.
Tarango thought that since it was a World Team Tennis match, maybe anything goes. He hesitated for a minute, then heaved the racket - ball and all - over the net.
"[WTT co-founder] Billie Jean [King] said I could do anything I wanted out there," Tarango said, laughing. "I thought maybe that would be one of the things."
It wasn't. But Tarango and doubles partner Stephen Huss won the set and the match for the FoxForce, who defeated the New York Sportimes 22-18 on opening night. The teams played in front of approximately 2,000 on a temporary outdoor court set up at Blue Fox Run Golf Course.
The FoxForce played at Riverfront Park last year, but owner Lisa Wilson-Foley decided to move the team to her golf course after too many rainouts.
Tuesday, Wilson-Foley was fairly happy with the way the event was running. "We'll get the little kinks ironed out by [the next match] Saturday," she said.
That was before a generator blew out and one of the eight sets of lights went out during mixed doubles. The New York players and coach Joe Giuliano complained and a new bank of lights was brought in after a 13-minute delay.
New York's Ellis Ferreira and Bea Bielik proceeded to win the mixed doubles 5-4 on a 5-1 tiebreaker, but the Sportimes still trailed, 17-16. It was up to Tarango and Huss in men's doubles, the final set of the night, and they came through, defeating John Paul Fruttero and Ferreira, 5-2.
"Jeff showed his experience, he came up with a couple of big shots," Giuliano said.
The Sportimes, whose home is Mamaroneck, N.Y., came from Schenectady, N.Y., where they defeated the New York Buzz Monday night, 21-20. They got lost and didn't arrive in Avon until 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Giuliano said.
"I thought everybody competed really well," Giuliano said. "We were only down one going into the last match. It's almost like a basketball team going on the road; it's a little difficult to get back up again."
Tarango lost the first set 5-3 in men's singles to Fruttero, the big-serving substitute for Patrick McEnroe. Meghann Shaughnessy defeated Bielik 5-4 (5-2 tiebreaker) in women's singles. Then she and Milagros Sequera beat Bielik and Shuai Peng in doubles, 5-2.
"The girls kept us in it with the doubles and Meghann won that gutsy tiebreaker," Tarango said. "Meghann was the better player but [Bielik] was serving so good."
Although Tarango had never played WTT before, it was not his first exposure to it. He served as a ballboy for the Los Angeles Strings in 1976.
"[Ilie] Nastase, Tracy Austin, Rosemary Casals, maybe Jimmy Connors," he said. "It was quite a good team."
Tarango normally stays in Europe to play on clay, but he decided that after 14 years on the ATP Tour, it was time to have fun.
"That's what I'm doing," he said. "It's a lot of fun."
Jul 11th, 2003, 02:07 AM
:wavey: Thank You, bwguy, for finding and posting these WTT articles!
:eek: @ all the lighting problems at the Palisades Tennis Club.
Go Newport Beach Breakers :bounce:
Jul 11th, 2003, 10:55 AM
Thanks for the articles, bwguy. WTT sounds like a lot of fun. :)
Jul 11th, 2003, 05:49 PM
You are welcome for the articles. Glad you're enjoying them.
All abuzz about Boris
Becker plays to Schenectady crowd despite losing TeamTennis debut
By MARK SINGELAIS, Staff writer
First published: Thursday, July 10, 2003
SCHENECTADY -- Boris Becker appeared to have a good time in his World TeamTennis debut on Wednesday night.
The 35-year-old Becker, playing for the New York Buzz, joked with the fans and the head umpire during a 21-19 loss to the Hartford FoxForce before a crowd of 2,200 at Central Park.
Sporting spiked hair that was dyed blond, Becker sang along with the Frank Sinatra anthem "New York, New York" as he posed for pictures with his Buzz teammates afterward.
While Becker is known for his three Wimbledon titles during a career that will put him in the Tennis Hall of Fame on Saturday, he said that having a sense of humor has always been a part of his game.
"That's what I do," Becker said. "That's what I used to do, but now nobody does it anymore, so it's a big deal when I do it. This is obviously a bit more relaxed than in my former days."
Becker, retired from the men's tour since 1999, still plays in some senior events. He looked fit Wednesday and felt he played well.
"I'm very happy," he said. "I couldn't play much better."
The Buzz lost the match when Becker and Shenay Perry were beaten 5-4 in mixed doubles by Hartford's Jeff Tarango and Meghann Shaughnessy in a tiebreaker in the final set of the night.
Becker and Perry held a 4-3 lead in the set, but Hartford broke Perry's serve at love and went on to win the tiebreaker 5-1 to capture the match.
The 19-year-old Perry wasn't even scheduled to play mixed doubles but was a late replacement for Nannie de Villiers.
"It's a good experience," Perry said. "I'm always ready for the challenge, but unfortunately I think I let my team down in singles and in both (women's and mixed) doubles. Hopefully, we'll bounce back (today) and I'll bounce back."
Becker and the Buzz meet the New York Sportimes tonight in Mamaroneck, Westchester County. Then Becker will go to Newport, R.I., to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Perry said she enjoyed playing with Becker even though she could barely recall watching him when he was still on tour.
"At the beginning it's hard, because you're playing with Boris Becker, jeez," Perry marveled. "It was a great experience. He's a really, really nice guy. He tried to tell me to stay positive. I tried to take in everything he said."
Perry said she "wasn't really starstruck," but still considers herself to be a big fan of Becker.
The Buzz got off to a fast start as Becker teamed with Don Johnson to beat Tarango and Stephen Huss 5-4 (5-1) in men's doubles, capturing the tiebreaker on a trademark ace from Becker.
Then Becker trounced Tarango 5-2 in singles to give the Buzz a 10-6 lead.
The volatile Tarango became unglued, arguing a handful of calls and receiving a warning from the umpire for ball abuse.
"Nobody wants to lose," Becker said. "We're good buddies off the court, but we want to play well and we want to do good, so that's the right attitude."
The FoxForce bounced back as Shaughnessy and Milagros Sequera downed de Villiers and Perry 5-1 in women's doubles and Shaughnessy, ranked 18th in the world, beat Perry 5-4 (5-2) in women's singles to give Hartford a 16-15 lead.
Becker got a good deal of teasing for his appearance as one fan yelled "Boris, you need a haircut!" between points.
That brought a stare and a joking comment from Becker, who also once kiddingly went to the umpire to complain that lefty Tarango was swinging his racket with his right hand.
With Shaughnessy, FoxForce Undefeated
July 13, 2003
By ROBERTO GONZALEZ, Courant Staff Writer
AVON -- While it wasn't a break from competitive tennis, Meghann Shaughnessy enjoyed her stay with the FoxForce, playing her last World Team Tennis match of the season Saturday. The FoxForce defeated the New York Buzz 23-20 before about 2,000 at Blue Fox Run to remain undefeated (4-0).
The FoxForce won the match in the final set when Stephen Huss and Jeff Tarango defeated Justin Bower and Don Johnson 5-4 in a nine-point tiebreaker in men's doubles.
For Shaughnessy, it was a fun way to end her stay.
"I had such a fun time last year that I wanted to come back and play for Hartford again," Shaughnessy said. "It's such a great team and they take good care of us. It was another great time and I look forward to doing this again next year."
Shaughnessy described playing for WTT as a change of pace from the WTA Tour.
"On the tour every week, it's pretty individual, so it's nice to come here and play with a team and have it a little more rowdy," she said.
This won't be Shaughnessy's last appearance in Connecticut; she is playing at the Pilot Pen in New Haven next month. Her immediate plans include playing for the U.S. Fed Cup team next week, then playing a series of tournaments in California.
Saturday, Shaughnessy began the match with a set against Shenay Perry. Perry had a tough serve and defeated Shaughnessy in a nine-point tiebreaker 5-4 after Shaughnessy returned a serve into the net.
But Shaughnessy atoned for the loss, teaming with Tarango to beat Nannie de Villiers and Johnson in mixed doubles. Shaughnessy picked up her serve and even aced Johnson. She also served out the set, which the FoxForce won 5-3 to take a 9-8 lead.
In the third set, Shaughnessy teamed with Milagros Sequera to win women's doubles against de Villiers and Perry. Late in the set, de Villiers hit a hard shot that hit Sequera on the right wrist. The set was delayed several minutes, as Sequera had her wrist taped.
Shaughnessy and Sequera broke de Villiers to win the third set 5-3 and give the FoxForce a 14-11 lead.
The FoxForce lose Shaughnessy, but James Blake will make his appearance for the team Monday when they play the Delaware Smash.
But FoxForce coach Peter Bradshaw said it's the roster players, such as Tarango, Huss and Sequera, who deserve a lot of the credit for keeping the team undefeated.
"Our players just keep coming up big on the big points and we have a solid all-around team," Bradshaw said. "Meghann certainly is a huge addition, but our roster players are coming up big, too."
Jul 13th, 2003, 04:02 PM
Thanks for these articles, bwguy. I've really enjoyed them.
I'm surprised that the players want to do so much traveling in their off time.
But it shows how much they need comradeship.
Jul 14th, 2003, 05:29 AM
FYI, I'm covering all of the New York Buzz home matches for On The Line (http://www.tennis-ontheline.com). The reports are too long to post here, but worth a look if you're interested in a specific player or match. I'll also have a batch of pictures there very soon.
Jul 14th, 2003, 02:05 PM
Thanks for the tip, Chris. Your detailed reports are the next best thing to being there!--- Glad people are enjoying the WTT news. Here's another.
Explorers fall to Smash
By BILL RICHARDSON
Special to The Star
Everything started out well for the Explorers and their World TeamTennis fans Sunday. A gentle evening breeze wafted over the Plaza Tennis Center, the home team drew first serve, and the Explorers' women's doubles team opened with a tie-breaker victory over the unbeaten Delaware Smash.
But the exhilarating start was soon a fleeting memory. The Smash took charge and swept every set the rest of the way for a 24-14 triumph. Delaware improved to 5-0 in the WTT Eastern Conference. The Explorers dropped to 1-4 in the Western Conference.
"This team (Delaware) is a very good team, and they were hot tonight," Kansas City coach Paul Smith said. "But we were still right in there after three sets. Their men were on fire. You keep winning like they do, and you get a lot more confidence."
The Delaware men's doubles tandem of Paul Goldstein and Scott Humphries closed impressively with a 5-1 win over the Explorers' Rick Leach and David Wheaton.
Although comfortably ahead 19-13 entering the finale, the Smash had to win the set to avoid overtime. Under WTT rules, if the trailing team wins the last set, the match goes into overtime.
The other Delaware successes came in men's and women's singles and mixed doubles.
Goldstein, ranked 77th in the world, called the women's singles in which Samantha Reeves won a slugfest from the Explorers' Laura Granville 5-3 the key to his team's victory.
"That turned the momentum of the match," Goldstein said. "They had won the first set, and Samantha came out with a real good effort against a highly respected player."
The high-spirited battle between Reeves and Granville concluded after a series of long volleys and five successive service breaks.
Delaware moved ahead 14-11 at halftime by winning the mixed doubles 5-3. In the men's singles, Goldstein withstood the power serves of the Explorers' Wheaton and pulled out one service break in prevailing 5-2.
"It's important to get out ahead because it's tough to come from behind on a fast court like this one," Goldstein said. "We're undefeated, but we don't have anybody who has won all of their matches. Somebody is always picking up the slack every time we play."
The Smash scheduled an early-morning flight out of Kansas City for a first-place Eastern Conference showdown tonight at Hartford, Conn.
The Explorers stay home for a 7:35 match tonight on the Plaza courts against the Springfield Lasers.
The team welcomes a new member tonight. Aniko Kapros, a 19-year-old Hungarian, will replace Granville, who is traveling to Washington to join the U.S. Fed Cup team.
Jul 16th, 2003, 02:21 AM
These articles are little gems. It's a break from hearing only about the big stars all the time. Hey, I like a lot of the big stars, but they live in a rarified world. WTT is down-home! David Wheaton! Wow, that's a name you don't hear too often this century! :eek:
Jul 16th, 2003, 08:54 PM
I liked David Wheaton, janie. I remember he and Mary Joe Fernandez were once an "item".
Kournikova coming to town tonight
By STUART LONDON
The No. 77-ranked women's tennis player in the world will be in action tonight in the Philadelphia area, and tickets are at a premium.
The No. 77-ranked player has drawn a reporter from People magazine to the match, plus the possibility of an international singing star in the stands rooting her on.
Of course, this can mean only one thing - Enrique Iglesias' close friend, better known as Anna Kournikova, is coming to town.
Kournikova is playing for the Kansas City Explorers in a World Team Tennis match tonight at 7 against the Philadelphia Freedoms, at Cabrini College in Radnor.
"I have played in Philadelphia once and won a doubles title there with Martina Hingis," said Kournikova in a recent conference call to promote her appearance. "I had a great time in Philly and am looking forward to coming back. It is a great city to visit."
According to Freedoms general manager Jeff Harrison, all reserved seating is sold out, but there are general admission tickets still available.
The 22-year-old, who was born in Russia but has called Florida home for many years, is simultaneously one of the most popular athletes in the world and one of the most heavily criticized.
Serena Williams recently passed her as the top female sports figure in endorsements, but Kournikova still makes an estimated $12-14 million a year off the court.
She also currently holds a healthy lead over the Toronto Raptors' Vince Carter in ESPN.com's voting for Most Overrated Athlete, and is regularly lampooned on "Saturday Night Live" for making all that money even though she has never won a major singles tournament. (She has combined with Hingis to win two Grand Slam doubles titles).
However, critics might not have Kournikova to kick around for much longer. Tonight's match might be the last chance for area fans to see her in person on a tennis court.
A series of injuries, first to her feet and now her back, have limited her play the past couple of years, and she has not played a competitive tennis match in almost two months because of a back injury.
The back injury will limit her to doubles play against the Freedoms, and there is no timetable as to when she can play singles again.
Kournikova has been a pro for almost eight years. She said her body is starting to feel the wear and tear. Her former doubles partner, Hingis, has already retired at age 22 with ankle problems.
"When I was younger and before my injury two years ago, I was playing great," said Kournikova who has been ranked as high as No. 7 in singles. "Since then, with my body being injured and having played tennis for 15 straight years, and playing 6-7 hours each day when I was younger, it's starting to get harder.
"My body is starting to let me know about that. As an athlete, I have to learn to take what comes to me and just try to take care of my body as best that I can."
Although an individual star of the highest magnitude, Kournikova is looking forward to playing in the team format of World Team Tennis. Tonight is the start of a three-matches-in-three-days commitment she has made to the Explorers.
"The format of WTT is a lot of fun and the crowd gets so into it," she said. "I love the concept of 'team' and playing singles, doubles and mixed doubles all together.
"My goal right now is to be completely healthy and take care of my body, but, regardless of my injuries or not, I'll be out there either way."
Jul 17th, 2003, 12:31 AM
bwguy, your mention of the MJF - DW romance was a flash from the past! Those were the days, my friend. We thought they'd never end. :hearts:
Jul 17th, 2003, 12:47 PM
:wavey: Thank you for those great articles :wavey: :)