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Old Jul 12th, 2002, 12:42 AM   #1
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Maria Sharapova article.

It's from the 28th June:

'Rising Star Sharapova Prepares For Team Tennis Debut

With long legs, blonde locks, and a game honed by the likes of Nick Bolletteiri and Robert Lansdorp, 15-year-old Maria Sharapova is poised to make good on the marketing buzz which has touted her as "the next Kournikova." With age restrictions limiting her ability to play on the WTA Tour, however, the Russian phenom will cut her teeth on the World Team Tennis circuit. The youngest player ever drafted for WTT duty, Sharapova makes her debut this July with the Delaware Smash. Participating in a conference call via satellite from Wimbledon -- where she's seeded 7th in the juniors competition -- Sharapova fielded questions on her inauguaral Team Tennis campaign (and, per the moderator's request, avoided getting into anything "tabloidy").

Sharapova sounded like your average everyday teenager while waiting for the conference to officially get underway. She dined on some Skittles, dubbed the London weather "freezing," and tried to figure out what the Hamptons (location of one of the league's two New York franchises) are. Being informed that Billy Joel hangs out in the upscale party town was no help to Sharapova, who'd never heard of the Piano Man. Her musical tastes run more toward No Doubt and Jennifer Lopez.

Maria may have much to learn off the court, but as the youngest finalist in the history of the Australian Open juniors (a feat she accomplished at age 14), she has already demonstrated precocious ability between the white lines. With established pros like Amanda Coetzer and Meghann Shaughnessy scheduled to square off against her in Team Tennis, Sharapova will get an early opportunity to see how her game stacks up. "It's a good opportunity to be playing with the pros, against greater opponents," Maria said, adding that the experience should "give me more confidence and help me in the future."

The tight-knit team aspect of WTT also appeals to Sharapova, who will be meeting her Delaware doubles partner Samantha Reeves for the first time. She will see at least one familiar face during the season when Delaware hosts the Sacramento Capitals, featuring fellow phenom Ashley Harkleroad. While the two are often mentioned in the same breath as the sport's future glamour girls, Maria downplayed any suggestion of a rivalry, calling Harkleroad "a great player." Having already recorded a straight sets victory over her (a few months ago in Miami) gives Sharapova "a little advantage," but she says "all the matches are gonna be tough, even against a girl of my age."

Sharapova recently had an opportunity to meet World Team Tennis founder Billie Jean King. The significance might have been lost on Maria, who's a few decades too young to have seen King's famous "Battle of the Sexes" win over Bobby Riggs. In fact, Sharapova says she never really had a tennis role model growing up. Even now, she's unable to pinpoit a current player she'd like to emulate, but she does watch the stars and look for examples of things she could improve in her own game. Maria Sharapova will get some of those examples in person starting July 9th, when her World Team Tennis experience begins with a home match against the Philadelphia Freedoms.'
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Old Jul 16th, 2002, 01:55 AM   #2
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Thanks for the article Cassius!
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