SPOT ON OLYMPIC TEAM A DREAM COME TRUE FOR CAPRIATI
Saturday, January 18, 1992
Not yet 16, Jennifer Capriati has a proud history of representing the United States on the tennis court.
The Wightman Cup at 13, the youngest competitor ever. The Continental Cup. Two Federation Cups.
And now, this summer in Barcelona, the ultimate dream: the Olympics.
''It's a great feeling to be on the Olympic team,'' Capriati said Friday from Melbourne, where she is playing in the Australian Open .
''I've always loved playing for the U.S. and what better chance can you get than the Olympics.''
Capriati, who grew up in Lauderhill, was nominated by the United States Tennis Association to the U.S. Olympic tennis team with Mary Joe Fernandez of Miami, Zina Garrison and Gigi Fernandez.
Jim Courier, Pete Sampras and Michael Chang were nominated to the men's team. Nominations must be approved by the U.S. Olympic Committee and the International Tennis Federation.
Players were chosen on the basis of ranking, with Federation/Davis Cup service in 1991 as a required criteria. Capriati is ranked No. 6, the second- highest American after No. 4 Martina Navratilova, who did not play Fed Cup in Nottingham, England last year.
''Everyone said I would be on the team, but you never know,'' Capriati said. ''When Marty Riessen (the American coach) called with the news, I was real excited.''
Capriati and Mary Joe Fernandez, who is ranked No. 7, will play singles at the Olympics, as they did during the Federation Cup. Garrison will likely play singles and doubles with Gigi Fernandez, her Federation Cup partner.
The men's team of Courier (2), Sampras (6) and Chang (16) provoked some controversy because sentimental star John McEnroe was left off.
McEnroe, who plans to retire this year, wanted to play in the Olympics, in singles as well as doubles. But McEnroe's No. 28 ranking put him behind four players for the third berth -- Andre Agassi, Derrick Rostagno, David Wheaton and Chang.
Agassi and Rostagno did not want to play, but Wheaton, who did not play Davis Cup, and Chang asked to be considered. Chang won the 1989 French Open on red clay, the Olympic surface.
Courier, who wanted to play doubles in the Olympics with McEnroe, criticized the USTA for dragging its feet on the selections.
''I talked to John about it, but (USTA officials) wouldn't commit,'' Courier said. ''John had to make his plans for the summer because of his family, and he couldn't wait any longer.''