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post #16 of 1263 (permalink) Old Mar 4th, 2016, 12:09 AM
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Re: 1996

Rankings system in women's game needs a bit of tinkering
The Washington Times
February 28, 1996
Josh Young

This is going to sound cynical and a little cruel,
Actually, it sounds like a grumpy old man who always complains about how everything is worse now compared to Back In The Day, except when he complains about how much harder everyone had it Back In The Day. Of course, as a denizen of Blast From The Past, I know that feeling when the generation of players that you "knew" is replaced. But you have to accept it or move on to something else (or settle into a forum like BFTP ). And come on, if you're going to pine for something, at least pine for the Good Old Days of Navratilova and Evert Finals, not the Good Old Days of Shriver, Turnbull, and Hanika Rounds of 16.
Agreed Mrs A.

While there were always flaws in the old divisor system it generally worked.
The real horror to my mind came in 1997, when the new rankings pushed quantity over quality. Hingis deserved #1 in 1997, but not so early in the season! I think Martina became #1 right after Oz-when Steffi still held 3 slams. Ridiculous.

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post #17 of 1263 (permalink) Old Mar 4th, 2016, 02:33 AM
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Re: 1996

I was shocked. I think it happened in March when Hingis won The Lipton (I will always call it that!) and was suddenly number one when Steffi held French, Wimbledon, USO AND the VS champs? It didn't make any sense. I felt Steffi wouldn't lose her top spot until after the French or Wimbledon.
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post #18 of 1263 (permalink) Old Mar 4th, 2016, 11:12 PM Thread Starter
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Re: 1996

The shift to the Best N ranking system looks even worse at the end of 1996, when EVERYBODY had a body part that was breaking or broken, and the WTA was screaming; "You all need to play more!" If anything, it was obvious they needed a longer off season and fewer weeks with field commitments during the year.

While I am far from belonging to the Only Slams Count school of thought, if you're going to have a purely additive ranking system, you can't have winning a Tier II be worth roughly half the round points of winning a Slam. To this day, I can't fathom the thinking (if that's the word I want) going on behind the scenes.
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Re: 1996

Tennis is art in the hands of Hingis
JEFF WELLS has seen the future of women's tennis, and is already lining up for the tickets.

Jeff Wells
January 8, 1996
Sydney Morning Herald

I HAVE seen the saviour of women's tennis. She is a porcelain trinket of a Swiss girl with a ponytail. She looks about as tough as Audrey Hepburn in Gigi - and has the same gamine charm.

But at 15 Martina Hingis is blessed with genius, and seems the one player headed for the top who can return art to the women's game.

It is a big call, but after watching her in the Hopman Cup - especially the way she coolly nonplussed rocket man Goran Ivanisevic during the mixed doubles match in the final - I believe she will become the Ken Rosewall of the women's game.

Rosewall didn't have a big serve or a lot of grunt against the powerhouses of his time - and even in the age of wooden racquets there were plenty who gave the ball an almighty clout - but he had the chessmaster's mind and the perfect timing to beat the best.

These days women are bigger and stronger - "Muscles" Rosewall would even look wimpy in against Monica Seles or Steffi Graf.

However, even the smaller women are now able to camp on the baseline and hammer the ball with those big blunderbuss racquets.

Unfortunately, this technology-given prowess is not matched by a God-given ability to glide to the net and volley. Thus the supreme creative element of the game - to pluck a pinging ball from the air and place it with devastating accuracy - is still missing from the women's game.

I am convinced that, from now on, whenever Hingis is on court in a competitive match - not one of the usual early-round drubbings which make the women's game such a yawn - a ticket will be a gilt-edged sporting investment.

And it is only a year since I went to an outside court during the early rounds of the Australian Open to see the then 14-year-old wunderkind, who had stirred a heated debate about exploitation, and came away wondering "so what?". There was a swirling wind that day and Hingis didn't look outstanding against a low-ranked opponent.

She didn't have much of a serve, she didn't have any extra power, and she rarely ventured near the net.

My verdict then was a disappointed "more of the same".

This kid might have talent, and she might climb rapidly past the usual suspects among the pretenders, but what would happen when she ran up against the force of Seles or Graf?

Looking at Hingis's slender frame it is hard to believe that she will ever match the physiques of Graf and Seles. So the delicious prospect is one of brains battling brawn.

Hingis is one of those priceless athletes who seem to have time to spare no matter how explosive the action around them.

You see it in the lazy grace of everything Mark Waugh does on a cricket pitch. We once saw Sugar Ray Leonard with so much time on his hands that he could poke his chin out at the savage Roberto Duran and break him mentally into a "no mas" submission.

There have been supremely relaxed jockeys - Athol Mulley was one - who could confidently navigate through traffic and win by a lip.

I thought our best soccer player, Ned Zelic, was struggling for pure speed until I went to ground level and saw the way he ate up ground with his stride.

Like Ned, little Martina doesn't seem to expend a lot of energy even when the shells are whistling wide. But like Ned she gets there and has time to decide what she wants to do.

And she seems to have depth and finesse on every shot at her disposal, from tantalising lobs, to inside-out forehands down the line, to two-handed backhand cross-court zingers.

Somehow she seems to waft around the centre of the baseline while her opponents are run ragged.

BUT, ah, could she volley? She may already look to have far more potential than anybody except Seles or Graf, but could she expect to prevail against them playing the same baseline hammer game?

I believe if she can keep her psyche glued, Seles will be almost unbeatable for a couple of years, eclipsing the troubled Graf, until someone comes along who can manipulate her - bring her forward, with no angles, so that the dexterity of her two-handed racquet skills is tested.

And Seles's nemesis will have to be someone who can feed off her power - the way John McEnroe almost seemed to let the ball linger on the strings before guiding it to the line - and get to the net.

In the mixed doubles match of that Hopman Cup final I was left in no doubt Hingis can dominate at the net.

She won't always have to get there while she is running people around like crazed rabbits.

But when she does get there she will have the exquisite racquet skills, and instincts, to become the next great female player.

I almost said woman player - but Martina could become a true champion while still a gracious, charming child.
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post #20 of 1263 (permalink) Old Mar 6th, 2016, 01:03 AM Thread Starter
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Re: 1996

They really thought that the women didn't get appearance fees?!?

Seles hits town - and it should serve her right
January 9, 1996
Sydney Morning Herald

A weekend water taxi trip across the harbour and dinner at Doyles. Early morning practice on the deserted White City centre court.

Really, Monica, where else would you rather be?

Monica Seles, the diva and the Melba of women's tennis, continued her comeback to the game in Sydney at the newly renamed Peters International because there was nowhere else in the world she could be.

Her agents had searched high and low through Asia and the Pacific in the month before her mid-November announcement that she would be playing in Sydney, after the joint women's world number one missed two US tournaments through a combination of knee and ankle problems.

Seles needed the match practice. The former NSW Open needed a star. They were, on this one occasion, a perfect match.

Thus, by circumstances, as much as design, the International was off to a running start yesterday, although Seles, who had a first round bye, will not play her first match until tomorrow.

Despite the fact that this is her first match in Australia in three years, Sydney only rarely gets to gaze at stars of the wattage generated by Seles, whereas Melbourne, the venue for the Australian Open, is rather more accustomed to them, if not yet blase about the privilege.

The tournaments are as different as the cities which host them.

Sydney is a competitive dress rehearsal for the top players, on the same surface, against the same standard of opposition as they will meet in the Australian Open.

It is also one of the few non-Grand Slam events which host both a men's and women's tournament, at a venue close to water, restaurants and night clubs, all of them attractions dear to an affluent, widely travelled young athlete's heart.

Those inducements notwithstanding, some extra sweeteners are also needed to entice the bigger names.

While Seles is playing only for the winner's prize money of $59,500, it is believed three of the top five men's seeds, Goran Ivanisevic, Richard Krajicek and Todd Martin, will receive appearance money.

The men will get $50,000-$60,000 between them, based the going rate for players ranked between 10 and 20 in the world in these circumstances, with the winner of the men's tournament receiving $58,000.
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post #21 of 1263 (permalink) Old Mar 6th, 2016, 01:04 AM Thread Starter
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Re: 1996

Rosset and Hingis sound like the perfect partnership...

Women to star in revamped classic
January 8, 1996
The Age


Think about it. Do you really want to see Richard Krajicek and Greg Rusedski take turns breaking the sound barrier?

These two (maximum service speed 220 km/h and 215 km/h respectively) among the three fastest servers in men's tennis meet in the first round of the Peters International (formerly the New South Wales Open), starting today, and even in a tennis-starved city that has not seen the likes of this sort of company for 12 months, it will seem like more of the same.

Throw in Goran Ivanisevic (219km/h), Australia's Mark Philippoussis (estimated 200-plus km/h) and the winged Marc Rosset (215 km/h) and what you have is target practice, not a tennis tournament.

For the first time since Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova jostled for position on the White City clubhouse honor board in the early 1980s, and certainly since the men's and women's tournaments came together at the then NSW Open in 1988, the women's side appears to offer not only stronger, but more watchable competition.

The fact that No. 1 seed is Monica Seles is only part of the reason for this observation. Women's tennis now has real depth as indicated by a selection of first-round matches: eighth seed Naoko Sawamatsu, an Australian Open quarter- finalist last year, playing teenage prodigy Martina Hingis, and rising young sixth seed Chanda Rubin against fellow American Lori McNeil.

Thank Seles, both pre-wounding and post-comeback for this.

''She just makes you raise the level of your game," fellow American and third seed Mary Jo Fernandez said yesterday. ''She made Graf improve."

She makes the bottom line look better as well. Ticket sales are up on last year's, while corporate boxes are sold out, according to tournament director Barry Masters.

Seles has a first-round bye. Her first competitive appearance in Australia in three years will be on Wednesday, against either a qualifier or 54th-ranked Belgian, Dominique Monami.

The International is Seles' third tournament since her comeback from a 27-month layoff after she was stabbed during a match in Germany in 1993. Her No. 1 ranking is protected for three more tournaments.

There are no such allowances for an easy passage through the first round in the men's draw, although one space may yet open in the top half, with a question mark against the fitness of fourth seed Rosset.

Rosset, ranked 15th in the world, received a suspected broken bone in his right hand after slamming his clenched fist into the wall of a sponsor's box during the final of the Hopman Cup in Perth on Saturday night.

Rosset and his Swiss mixed doubles partner, Hingis, held three match points against the Croatian team of Goran Ivanisevic and Iva Majoli before the incident. The match continued for two more points before Rosset conceded.

The blow appeared to hurt Hingis, desperate for a tournament win of any sort to crown her early rise in women's tennis, at least as much as Rosset.

After surprising Ivanisevic with the ease with which she returned his heaviest serves during the mixed doubles, the 15-year-old remained composed during her news conference, but then broke down just before a separate interview with a German journalist.

The Hingis of January 1995 so impressed her peers that they came out of the dressing room and sat on the centre-court grass to view her first match. This year's model is bigger, stronger and better to watch.

Rosset was to have further X-rays of his damaged hand in Sydney today after arriving from Perth yesterday. He has until 4 pm to declare his availability.

Other parts of the draw also are incomplete, with Saturday's washout of the qualifying matches forcing the final round of four matches in both the men's and women's sections to be played from 11 am today.
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post #22 of 1263 (permalink) Old Mar 6th, 2016, 01:10 AM Thread Starter
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Re: 1996

Seles planning desert stop
The Press-Enterprise
Riverside, CA
January 12, 1996
Jim Short

Charlie Pasarell has been wishing on the right stars.

First, the founder and director of the Champions Cup, one of the most prestigious events on the men's ATP Tour, was able to realize a long-time goal and combine that event with the women's Evert Cup, which for the past few years has been played the week before the men's showcase.

Now, it looks as if Pasarell will have Monica Seles to headline the Evert Cup. Seles, who spent 28 months away from tennis after being stabbed in the back in Hamburg, Germany, in April 1993, said in a recent conference call that she plans to launch her U.S. season in the tournament scheduled for March 8-16 at the Hyatt Grand Champions Resort in Indian Wells.

It will be her first tournament appearance in Southern California since August 1992, when she lost to Martina Navratilova in the final of the Virginia Slims of Los Angeles (now the Acura Classic) at Manhattan Beach. Seles also won at Indian Wells that year.

Seles, who won the Canadian Open and lost to Steffi Graf in the final of the U.S. Open in her two tournaments last year, is opening her season this week in Sydney, Australia. Then, she said, she'll play the Australian Open and the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo before taking some time off, "and I think I'm going to start back in Palm Springs," followed by the Lipton Championships in Key Biscayne, Fla., and the Family Circle Cup at Hilton Head, S.C.

"I'll definitely play a lot," said Seles, who plans on representing the U.S. in both the Olympic Games and Federation Cup in addition to playing the four Grand Slam tournaments. She also might play in Los Angeles. "The one thing I'm going to try in here is to put in quite a few tournaments, one after the other, and see how that works, which I haven't done in the past. I'm a little nervous about that.

"A lot of times in the past I would play one week and then have one week off and then play one week and it would never give me enough time to work on anything. So I said,'Let's just try this and see how it goes' . . . If it doesn't work, I'll readjust my schedule."

Here's the pro tennis schedule for Southern California this year. Feb. 9-11, Davis Cup first round, U.S. versus Mexico, La Costa Resort, La Costa; March 8-17, WTA Evert Cup/ATP Champions Cup, Hyatt Grand Champions, Indian Wells; July 29-Aug. 4, ATP Infiniti Open, Los Angeles Tennis Center at UCLA; Aug. 12-18, WTA Acura Classic, Manhattan Country Club, Manhattan Beach; Aug. 19-25, WTA Toshiba Classic, La Costa Resort, La Costa . . . The combined Evert Cup/Champions Cup event actually will get under way March 4 with a $50,000 ATP Challenger tournament . . . Two of the local tournaments captured year-end awards from the ATP - the Champions Cup for tournament operations and the Infiniti Open for its charity program.

It took Petr Korda just one week this year to do what he hadn't done since December 1993. That's win a tournament - the season-opening Qatar Open. Korda had been hampered by groin problems the past two years and was considering retirement before a hernia operation on Oct. 13 cured the problem. Ranked No. 5 in the world in 1992, he had slipped to No. 41 . . . Stefan Edberg, who has announced that this is his final season, said he will ask the promoter of each tournament he plays to make a donation to the Stefan Edberg Foundation, to benefit young Swedish players . . . These foundations are getting to be the in thing. Andre Agassi has set up one to benefit underprivileged youth in the Las Vegas area and Michael Stich and his wife, Jessica, began one to help children who are born HIV-positive in Germany . . . Henrik Holm of Sweden is going to have arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder and will be out for several months . . . Former Romanian star Ilie Nastase, now captain of his country's Davis Cup team, is running for mayor of Bucharest. That prompted countryman Adrian Voinea to say, "He's like Napoleon. He has a lot of fantasies. But I think Romania needs fantasies now."

Tennis magazine gave its 1995 Player of the Year award to Steffi Graf and its Comeback Player of the Year to Monica Seles. Also honored were Mark Philippoussis and Martina Hingis (rookies of the year) and Patrick McEnroe and Chanda Rubin (most improved). Graf's coach, Heinz Gunthardt, was named coach of the year . . . Sandra Cacic opened the year with the first championship of her career, in the Amway Classic at Auckland, New Zealand, after gaining entry as a qualifier. She is the first qualifier to win a tournament since Radka Bobkova took the Belgian Open May 9, 1993 . . . Murrieta's Lindsay Davenport, who opened the year ranked No. 12, said one of her New Year's resolutions is "to be nicer to both my sisters" . . . The women's tour events in Australia, including the Australian Open, are being played with a new fluorescent green-yellow ball developed by Slazenger. Australian Open tournament director Paul McNamee said the balls will be easier to see on television as well as under artificial lights.
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post #23 of 1263 (permalink) Old Mar 6th, 2016, 01:12 AM Thread Starter
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Re: 1996

Rubin adds shot of youth - 20-year-old leads a new generation of women's stars
The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution
March 5, 1996

Right now, the WTA has it all going in the right direction. The women's tour has had the players and the matches the past few months to keep an edge.

Certainly, the return of Monica Seles and her U.S. Open match with Steffi Graf was a highlight. The Graf-Arantxa Sanchez Vicario three-set thriller at Wimbledon last year was a classic. And now, Jennifer Capriati is back on the tour.

And the emergence of new stars like Chanda Rubin is helping to build a younger fan base for the WTA.

Rubin, a 20-year-old from Lafayette, La., has climbed to No. 10 in the world and has put her name in the record books. She won the longest women's match ever at Wimbledon last year and this year beat Sanchez Vicario in the longest women's match ever at the Australian Open.

She made an impression on the whole sporting world last May when she overcame a 5-0 third-set deficit to upset fifth-ranked Jana Novotna in the French Open.

Tough loss in Australia

"Yeah, I still get a lot of questions about that match," said Rubin, who was in Atlanta last week to shoot some ads for Reebok.

"People are always asking me, `What were you thinking about?' I just wanted to make her hit one more ball."

Rubin thinks it unfortunate that Novotna, who lost a similar match at Wimbledon in 1994, has been labeled as a "choker." Not because it detracts from her win, but out of respect for Novotna.

"She has won a lot of matches. She's the No. 5 player in the world. I think it may have been a case of nerves on a couple of points."

Rubin said being behind and trying to keep a match going is one of the more difficult parts of tennis. But she knows first-hand that it also can be difficult to close out a match.

Rubin was serving for the match, maybe the biggest of her career, with a 5-3 lead on Seles at this year's Australian Open. True to the style of many women players of her generation, she decided to go for it. Hit away. Even on a second serve. She double-faulted at 30-15 and went on to lose the match.

Would she do it differently?

"I'd have to say yes because of the outcome," Rubin said. "But I thought I played a pretty good match and I went for it."

Fierce competition in top 10

Rubin said her goals this year are to keep improving and concentrate on the remaining major events - the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. She is also hoping to compete for the United States in the Olympics.

"I think the hardest thing is going to be to stay in the top 10 and move up. That's always a goal. We'll see where I end up. But the Grand Slams are a focus for me this year. . . . I'm going for all of them."

The competition to stay among the elite will be fierce. Seven of the top 10 are 25 or younger. Graf is the oldest at 27, but she's still the clear-cut No. 1. Croatian sensation Iva Majoli is only 19. The next 10 includes the likes of Lindsay Davenport, Brenda Schultz-McCarthy and Amanda Coetzer.

Rubin disagrees with critics who say the WTA is dominated by a handful of players.

"I think the only - but important - difference between top 10 players and top 20 players is that the players at the top are maybe a little mentally tougher," she said. "I think last year and the Australian this year show that there are a lot of players out there who could beat a top 10 player at any tournament."

An Olympic venue preview

Rubin, who thinks her chances are good to play in Atlanta for the U.S. Olympic team, will be here March 19 in a team-format exhibition at the Stone Mountain Tennis Center. She'll join Mary Joe Fernandez and John and Patrick McEnroe against an international team of Graf, Schultz-McCarthy, Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde.

"That's going to be a special treat for me," Rubin said. "It's a huge night for me, and I hope for the fans, to be able to play in the new stadium where they play the Olympics. And with this format, with the fans, we will be able to get a little of the spirit of the Olympics that night."

TeamTennis Cup

What: An exhibition with a U.S. team against an international team.

Who: U.S. - John McEnroe, Patrick McEnroe, Chanda Rubin, Mary Joe Fernandez. World - Steffi Graf, Brenda Schultz-McCarthy, Todd Woodbridge, Mark Woodforde.

When/where: March 19; Stone Mountain Tennis Center.

Schedule: Matches begin at 6 p.m., with Luke and Murphy Jensen and wheelchair players playing an exhibition.

Tickets: $35, $55 and $75; call 404-222-7665.
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Re: 1996

Yay, Debbie Graham! Yay, Patty Fendick! Yay Dr. Souhail Toubia and Mill Peninsula Hospital!

Debbie Graham survived cardiac arrest from a blood clot to return to the tennis tour.

The Press-Enterprise
Riverside, CA
March 7, 1996
Jim Short

INDIAN WELLS -- Debbie Graham lost her Evert Cup qualifying match Wednesday, but so what. Eight months ago she was dead.

A blood clot in her left leg fragmented during her long flight home from Wimbledon in early July, and the fragments blocked off blood vessels to both lungs and cut off about 70 percent of lung function.

She said she passed out in the baggage claim area at San Francisco airport, then had "five or six seizures" and went into cardiac arrest for about 10 seconds in the ambulance that transported her to nearby Mill Peninsula Hospital.

"Any regular person like you or me would have died immediately," said Dr. Souhail Toubia, who was called when Graham was admitted to the hospital, "but she was in excellent shape and an athlete. That was her only salvation."

That, having the good luck to be traveling with Patty Fendick, who had had a similar problem and responded instantly to Graham's distress, and being near a medical facility with the knowledge and equipment necessary to diagnose and treat her.

"I think," she said, "the best part about it was, I never realized how serious it was until I actually got out of the hospital. I didn't even know what happened, really."

Graham stayed in the hospital's intensive care unit for 11 days, while being treated with a blood-thinning medication called Heparin, and slowly began to respond.

Then she went home to Newport Beach and did absolutely nothing for three months except ingest her daily doses of Coumadin, another blood thinner.

"I couldn't do anything," said Graham, 25, a 1991 graduate of Stanford with a degree in political science.

"For about three weeks I was just on a couch, I couldn't do anything. Every little thing tired me. Talking a lot to people was so tiring. For like a month or two months I couldn't even walk up the stairs, I was so weak.

"After about three months, they let me go out and start hitting (tennis balls) and getting exercise. But I was having trouble breathing and sleeping, and they said I was doing too much."

Graham said when she began recovering she expected to be back on the WTA Tour in a couple of weeks. But as the rehabilitation dragged on, doubts began, and she did something drastic.

"I ended up getting a job for two months, working in an office" for promoter John Korf, she said. "I also took a class, to get ready for business school, in case I had to go back.

"I really didn't know if I was going to be able to play again, or if I really had the desire, because I knew it was going to be a lot of hard work.

"It was funny, about the same type all this happened to me, Monica (Seles) was coming back (from a 28-month layoff after being stabbed in the back). I was watching how much fun she was having, and I was thinking, `I miss that, so much.'

"I realized that I had just gone through the hardest thing I'll probably ever have to go through. I knew coming back would be hard, but it couldn't take very much effort compared to that."

Graham finally was able to resume training in November, and she returned to the tour at the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo in late January.

Although she didn't qualifying for the Evert Cup singles field, she will play doubles with Carolyn Vis. She needs matches, she said. There's no other way to rebuild her career.

She has a different perspective on the game now, however. Death will do that to a person.

"You definitely realize there's more to life than tennis," Graham said. "When I came back (in Japan), Pam Shriver said, `Congratulations. I guess you won the biggest slam of all.'

"I realize that if tennis doesn't work out, I can do other things. Unfortunately, working in an office doesn't pay as much as playing tennis, as I found out. It's not as much fun, either."

NOTES - Steffi Graf of Germany and Conchita Martinez of Spain were seeded first and second for the Evert Cup, which gets under way at 10 a.m. Friday at the Hyatt Grand Champions Resort. Graf, the 1994 Evert Cup champion, could meet fifth-seeded Chanda Rubin in the quarterfinals and either third-seeded Anke Huber or seventh-seeded Lindsay Davenport of Murrieta in the semifinals. Martinez's likely opponents are No. 6 seed Brenda Schultz-McCarthy in the quarters and fourth-seeded Kimiko Date in the semis. The top eight seeds have first-round byes . . . In two of the more interesting first-round matches, Jennifer Capriati will face 50th-ranked Rita Grande of Italy and Gigi Fernandez will take on Lori McNeil . . . The final eight spots in the Evert Cup field will be determined in qualifying today, and one of those advancing could be Venus Williams, the 15-year-old who began her career on the public courts in Compton. She made her first match of the year a winning one on Wednesday with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Jana Nejedly, 21, of Palm Springs. It was just the eighth professional match for Williams, playing here for the first time.
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Re: 1996

Interesting reading, I had no idea Debbie Graham had to face all this. BTW as with way many other players, I have only her name in my memory and got only results of her matches sporadically on the newspaper back in the day, as you know with no Internet, I just waited for the morning to come to see if the results were on the paper to learn about how the tournaments were going and especially my faves. Almost every player was just a name and you never got to know her face, let alone to see her play except if she got to play a top player at a big tournament and got televised. Only now I can finally SEE and put a face to a lot of names
And really Mrs. A., so nice to read all this you take the trouble to upload, and re live some years of the best tennis I've ever seen. Thank you so much

Witness of an Era of Grandeur
Chris the Ice Lady - Martina Grace&Power
Fraulein Forehand - The Divine Argentine
Merciless Monica - Barcelona Bumblebee
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Re: 1996

Originally Posted by gabybackhand View Post
Interesting reading, I had no idea Debbie Graham had to face all this. BTW as with way many other players, I have only her name in my memory and got only results of her matches sporadically on the newspaper back in the day, as you know with no Internet, I just waited for the morning to come to see if the results were on the paper to learn about how the tournaments were going and especially my faves. Almost every player was just a name and you never got to know her face, let alone to see her play except if she got to play a top player at a big tournament and got televised. Only now I can finally SEE and put a face to a lot of names
And really Mrs. A., so nice to read all this you take the trouble to upload, and re live some years of the best tennis I've ever seen. Thank you so much
You're welcome! I'm glad other people like to learn more about the "supporting cast" players. Even now, too many of them remain little more than scorelines in a database, and many triumphs of the human spirit or "Life Lessons of Tennis" are overlooked.
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Re: 1996

Yay, World Transplant Championships!

One set down, but winning the game of life
January 11, 1996
Sydney Morning Herald

While most of the crowd watched Monica Seles at White City yesterday, a small band at an outside court applauded qualities of a different sort: the marvel of modern medicine and a young woman's spirit.

They watched Kerrin Litchfield mix it with the tennis pros.

Ms Litchfield was a good tennis player until discovering in 1990, aged 17, that she had acute myeloid leukaemia.

She had chemotherapy and the disease went into remission. However, she suffered a relapse. First she couldn't walk by herself, then she couldn't get out of bed. She was told that only a bone marrow transplant could save her life.

Bone marrow from her sister, Carly, was not compatible. Her mother, Judie, couldn't help either. Her father, Barry, was not fully compatible. "But it was Dad or nothing," Ms Litchfield said before her exhibition match on Court 4 yesterday.

Given only a 20 per cent chance of survival, Ms Litchfield amazed doctors in Melbourne with her positive attitude.

"I told myself I would get through it," she said, "although there were times when I thought I might be dead the next week and when I wondered what my funeral would be like."

Ms Litchfield received her father's bone marrow in March 1991. She has only one more health check before what she expects will be the final all-clear. She is taking a physical education course, works as a gymnasium instructor and does some tennis coaching.

Yesterday she partnered Mark Cocks in a mixed doubles match against professionals, Australian Paul Kilderry and American Kimberly Po, who has been ranked 40th in the world.

Mr Cocks, 43, of Sydney, made the last 16 of the Australian Men's Championship in 1972, when Ken Rosewall won it and was ranked among the top 100 men in the world.

However, his health suffered soon after and he had a kidney transplant in 1978. After his health deteriorated again and it became obvious that he would need another kidney, his sister, Julie Edwards, gave one in 1991.

He returned to tennis in 1980, and again after his second operation. He has regularly won the men's title at the World Transplant Championships, the last one in Manchester when Kerrin Litchfield won the women's.

Yesterday they were watched by a group of young kidney patients, some post-transplant and others on dialysis.

Kilderry and Po won 6-3, but it was a good result for Cocks and Litchfield in life's big game.

Ms Litchfield looked pleased. "I have every reason to be."
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Re: 1996

Pierce gets liking for winning feeling
January 10, 1996
The Age

Twelve months ago, Mary Pierce won the Ford Australian Open. It was her only grand slam title. Now it is Open time again, and it is still her only grand slam title.

As Pierce said herself yesterday: ``Goodness, what on earth is Mary doing?"

Good question. Commentators had hoped that Pierce, after last year's win, would breathe life into the women's game.

Instead, she did not reach so much as a grand slam quarter- final.

``Well, I guess I can just say that last year didn't end as good as it started," Pierce said. ``I started really well, maybe too good. Then I tried to do too much and my body got tired.

``And, in any case, you can't win all the time, (although) of course I still feel I have the ability to play against the top players."

Pierce is ranked fourth in the world, behind Steffi Graf and Monica Seles (who hold joint No. 1 ranking), Conchita Martinez and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario.

She won the Australian Open title with neither Graf nor Seles present, both she and Sanchez Vicario reaching the final without conceding a set. Pierce won 6-3, 6-2, in 85 minutes.

Later in the year, Tennis Australia scrapped equal prizemoney for women. ``I'm surprised," Pierce said of that decision.

``Women's tennis is getting more and more exciting. A lot of us are playing well. Why are we going back?"

Yet she did not consider a boycott. ``All the players were upset, but there are better solutions than that."

Better solutions? Yes, playing better tennis, which is what Pierce intends to do.

``I'm very happy with the way I'm hitting the ball," she said. She is also more confident, dismissing a Sydney newspaper report that she had said Seles would win the Open.

``Is that so?" Pierce said. ``No, I would never say that.

I wouldn't tip anybody to win except myself."

Pierce believes she can beat Seles: ``On any given day, I have the game to beat anybody." She has not played a tournament for six weeks, admits to feeling tired, mentally and physically, but is certainly not jaded. ``This is my first tournament for the year and I'm very excited."

Of last year's victory, Pierce said: ``I remember it very, very clearly. At 40-15, I just needed a point to win. I thought, `no, don't think about it, just play like this point is any other point'." Which she did, slamming a cross-court winner.

The winning feeling, Pierce said, is ``impossible to explain".

Except that it is ``amazing. Just . . ." She looks skywards, rolls her eyes and smiles.

It is a feeling she hopes to recapture, while acknowledging tough competition. ``But I feel like I've improved. I'd like to win again because, when you do, it's unbelievable, a dream come true."
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Re: 1996

Hingis was just getting warmed up! Keep track of the racket abuse warnings in 1996!

Philippoussis bombs out to qualifier
January 10, 1996
The Age


A roadblock has appeared in the path of what was supposed to be Mark Philippoussis' accelerated journey to the top 10.

It changes shape and identity from week to week, and worst of all, there are no detour signs posted.

The ``Scud' of other victories misfired again yesterday, losing in straight sets in the first round of the Peters International to English qualifier Tim Henman, 6-4, 6-2.

This follows two defeats in three starts for the 19-year- old Australian at the Hopman Cup in Perth last week.

Despite his denials, it would appear the weight of public expectations has become a burden for Philippoussis, now ranked 39th in the world.

He entered the White City centre court to as warm a welcome as any Melbourne tennis hero could hope to receive, and walked off about 90 minutes later with the doubts of the crowd spoken aloud by his 95th-ranked opponent after the match.

``It seemed to me his game can sometimes become a little one-dimensional," Henman said. ``He's a hell of a player and his results have shown that, but sometimes, if things aren't going well for me, I have to change them around and have a plan B.

``He didn't change too much, which is fortunate for me. Maybe if he had changed things, it would have made life more awkward. I had to just keep playing the way I was."

These remarks were relayed to an obviously disappointed Philippoussis at his news conference. ``No. That's bullshit, " he replied. ``I'll serve and volley or I'll stay back. I've pretty much got my game together, it's just that I'm not playing well.

``I had an off day, had two or three break points every game (in the first set). If you don't take them, you don't deserve to win. You just give it to them."

In Melbourne, meanwhile, Patrick Rafter, the man previously billed as the next big thing of Australian tennis, admitted he ``went into a shell" last year under the weight of public expectation.

But he said he did not expect Philippoussis to do the same.

``I don't think it's a bad thing. It was a learning experience for me," said Rafter. ``Mark has a different personality to me and I think he'll deal with it better."

Henman, 21, was previously famous as the first player to be disqualified from Wimbledon, after a ball he struck in anger after losing a point in a doubles match last year accidentally hit a ballgirl in the head.

The heat of the moment and a no less implacable opponent also told on another of the game's rising hopes.

Martina Hingis, ranked 19th in the world, was issued with a verbal warning for racquet abuse and was lucky not to receive another during an enthralling three-set loss to 17th-ranked eighth seed Naoko Sawamatsu, of Japan.

Hingis let slip four match points. The Swiss 15-year-old bounced her racquet in disgust after dropping the first set, then threw it at the refrigerator next to the umpire's chair after dropping serve in the sixth game of the third set.

For this, she received a warning from chair umpire Troy Gaston, of Sydney.

Seeded players to fall yesterday included men's second seed Richard Krajicek, sixth seed Jan Siemerink and Spaniard Alberto Costa, the eighth seed, to Australian Mark Woodforde.

TODAY'S DRAW Centre court: 11am: T Henman (GB) v M Woodforde (SA), followed by M Seles (US) v D Monami (Belg), G Ivanisevic (Croatia) v M Norman (Sweden), M J Fernandez (US) v A Coetzer (S Af), T Woodbridge (NSW)-M Woodforde (SA) v E Ferreira (S AF)-J Siemerink (Neths). 7pm: A Carlsson (Sweden) v L Davenport (US), followed by L Jensen-M Jensen (US) v C Suk-D Vacek (Czech).
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Re: 1996

Fans hail their heroine's return
January 11, 1996
Sydney Morning Herald

The diva was uncharacteristically nervous. Patrons had flocked in their thousands to see her perform and the stage was disconcertingly large and bare. Would she delight or disappoint?

Judging by the response from White City's sellout centre-court crowd, Monica Seles provided far more than just a tennis match at the Peters International yesterday afternoon.

It was both a star's Sydney debut and a long-awaited comeback to competition in Australia. The crowd of 12,146 - the biggest at the tournament in 15 years - adored her and the children idolised her.

On the strength of such a public welcome, the top seed quickly overcame her stage-fright and turned on a performance which, while not exactly vintage Seles, was masterful enough to please her fans.

Her biting two-handed groundstrokes - which for the most part kept her Belgian opponent, Dominique Monami, scurrying all over the court - provided evidence that she had lost none of her power.

Seles, absent from tennis for 27 months, began her third tournament since her comeback at the Canadian Open last August with a 6-1 6-2 second-round victory over Monami in 55 minutes.

The 22-year-old has not played since the US Open last year because of successive knee and ankle injuries, and she was clearly pleased yesterday to return to the competitive fray.

But it was the crowd and, in particular, the kids, who made her day.

"The fans were amazing. There were a few who were coaching me the whole time. It was great," a smiling Seles said.

"It was very nice and I think for the whole time they never let up. Whenever you get a crowd like this, it's the kind of conditions, as an athlete, that you want to be in. It was very special."

Immediately following her match, Seles, accompanied by her ever-present bodyguard, did a lap of the centre-court area, signing dozens of autographs for children.

As a child growing up in the former Yugoslavia, Seles, too, collected autographs of great tennis players. In a glass case at her parents' home, she still has a scrawled signature from Bjorn Borg and a racquet given to her by that flamboyant Frenchman and 1983 French Open champion, Yannick Noah.

"It's really good when you see all the little kids (getting autographs) because I see myself in their eyes a lot of times," she said. "When I was seven, eight, that's what I used to do. It's great to have autograph books and things like that because I think later on you cherish those things.

"When I first came on the tour and I won my first tournament at Houston, I was so mad I didn't get a trophy. That's what mattered to me the most.

"The tournament made a special one for me. To have the trophy from your first tournament, little things like that, I think later on in life you appreciate more."

The bubbly co-world No 1 (with Steffi Graf) has been in Sydney a week, enjoying outings to the Botanic Gardens, the Opera House, Queen Victoria Building, Bondi Beach and to Watson's Bay, where she had her first taste of octopus.

But Seles, mindful of her unbeaten record in Australia, which includes three consecutive grand slam titles in Melbourne from 1991-93, is not forgetting why she's here.

She had a solid hit-up before her match and planned at least another half-hour on the court late yesterday afternoon to prepare for her hard-hitting quarter-final opponent, South African Mariaan de Swardt.

Seles thought she played "OK" against the diminutive Monami, who was certainly not overawed by the occasion and returned her high-profile opponent's shots with gusto. The swirling wind contributed, in part, to Seles losing two service games in the second set, but she quickly ended Monami's hopes of an upset victory by breaking back in the following service games.

The International's star attraction overshadowed the admirable performances of Australian players Mark Woodforde, Jason Stoltenberg, Scott Draper, Todd Woodbridge and Richard Fromberg.

The quintet all qualified for the quarter-finals, leaving only three overseas players - No 1 seed Goran Ivanisevic, Greg Rusedski and fifth seed Todd Martin - to fill the remaining places.

Fromberg avenged a painful 1995 loss in the final of this tournament by comfortably downing Patrick McEnroe 6-4 6-1. Draper achieved a similar result by beating Italian Renzo Furlan 6-1 7-5.

Woodforde, who overcame qualifier Tim Henman 3-6 6-3 6-3, and Stoltenberg, who finally disposed of Karol Kucera 2-6 6-2 7-6 (7-3), chose to do it the hard way.

Stoltenberg was playing so badly in the windy, unsettling conditions that he admitted later that he needed a miracle to escape - he came back from 2-5, 0-40 down in the final set.

"He started off playing a lot better than me and I think I brought him down to my level," Stoltenberg said. "I was having one of those days."

Stoltenberg meets fellow NSW player Woodbridge, who made short work of qualifier Sebastian Lareau 6-3 6-4.

In the other men's quarter-final matches, Woodforde will meet Ivanisevic, who was a struggling 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 winner over Swede Magnus Norman, Fromberg plays Martin, and Draper is up against Rusedski.

Nicole Bradtke, who plays Japan's Naoko Sawamatsu today, is Australia's sole remaining representative in the women's event.
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