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1996

Bunch of stuff in 1996. I promise to fill in Jan/Feb, although it will be haphazard.
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post #2 of 1263 (permalink) Old Feb 20th, 2016, 07:40 PM Thread Starter
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Re: 1996

Oh, how different Reality would be!

Life on the fault line - The new generation of women's tennis stars beware the Capriati syndrome
Simon O'Hagan in Paris reports on the young ones with lessons to learn

The Independent on Sunday
London, England
February 18, 1996B
Simon O'Hagan

IT WAS NOT until Jennifer Capriati turned up in the players' box the day after she had announced her withdrawal from the women's indoor tournament in Paris last week that those of us who had doubted her word began to think again.

Maybe she really was injured when, on Tuesday evening, she pulled out only a couple of hours before she was due back on court for the first time in 15 months. The vague and indifferent way in which she had handled her press conference, skirting the issue of her injury and sounding slightly surprised when somebody asked exactly what was wrong with her, positively invited suspicion.

Standing to one side was her father and coach, Stefano Capriati, trying not to draw attention to himself as he gestured to his daughter to go easy on the details. When, with due solemnity, Kathy Martin, the Women's Tour Association physiotherapist, followed the 19-year-old American into the interviewee's chair, the effect was not what was intended: it made the whole episode seem less convincing, not more. Observant members of the press corps then noticed that Martin pointed to her left side in explaining an injury which Capriati had said she had suffered to her right.

Various theories were quickly doing the rounds of the Stade de Coubertin, a sleek, modern complex in the south-west of the city, and they were not just confined to journalists. Officials, too, were joining in as speculation mounted over what might have been the real reason for Capriati's withdrawal.

If Capriati had suffered a loss of nerve, then that would perhaps have been understandable. Her very presence was a reminder of what life on the international tennis circuit can do to those too young to know how to handle it.

Thirteen when she played her first professional tournament, a Grand Slam semi-finalist at 14, Capriati was a prodigy of a higher order even than Tracy Austin and Andrea Jaeger, two Americans of an earlier generation who had hit the top while still dangerously young and suffered for it. When she dropped out of the game two and a half years ago, and then got into trouble with drugs, Capriati's life began to read like a bad script. Except it was all too real to her.

After one attempt at a comeback, in November 1994, had fizzled out, it was always going to require a lot of resolve to try again. Jim Fuhse, director of public relations for the WTA and a close friend of Capriati, believed she had it. "I've noticed such a difference in her demeanour in the last few weeks," he said. "She's really got things together now. This story is not unusual, you know. A lot of kids go through what she went through. They just don't live their lives in the spotlight. Sure, Jennifer's got a rebellious streak. She has her own mind . . ."

That was before Capriati was due to go on court against the Belgian Sabine Appelmans, and when she pulled out most people expected her to up and leave for her Florida home. That she stayed on, avoiding interviews and watching the tennis, suggested that she was genuine in wanting to see if her pulled muscle could heal in time for her to play in a tournament in Essen next week. Beau Delafield, a representative of her agent, IMG, was also with her. Asked if there was anything more to Capriati's withdrawal than was being let on, he said: "Absolutely not. She 100 per cent wanted to play."

While Capriati stutters towards her return - it was announced on Friday that she had received a wild card to play in Essen - the generation that has followed her is now as much the focus of attention. Could Martina Hingis ever imagine what happened to Jennifer Capriati happening to her? "I don't think so," she said. "I don't really know her or her family. All I know is that I am Martina Hingis, not Jennifer Capriati."

Hingis is sitting up straight in the players' lounge at the Stade de Coubertin, her hands folded on her lap. She is poised and natural and smiles a lot, and at 15 seems on very remote terms indeed with adolescent angst, still less the sort of pressures that are supposed to go with being a youthful star of international sport. As the first teenage wonder to come along since Capriati, the Czech-born Swiss girl, ranked 16 in the world, is watched and fretted over in case she might suddenly suffer an attack of the Jennifers. But it hasn't happened, and nobody really expects it to. "I've been amazed at how quickly Martina has matured," Fuhse said.

Yet in some ways Hingis has as much right to go off the rails as Capriati had. Her mother, Melanie, called her Martina after Martina Navratilova. She stuck a racket in her daughter's hand when she was only two. She has always been her coach. A few weeks after her 14th birthday, Martina was being paraded at a press conference in Frankfurt organised by her new sponsors, Sergio Tacchini. "It wasn't too bad," she said. "I had somebody helping with the translation."

Hingis's English is still halting, and that may be in her favour. Iva Majoli, the 18-year-old Croatian who is ranked No 4 in the world, thinks there is more expected of Americans and that the key to coping is to build up experience gradually. Even so, Hingis said she was conscious of the need to keep earning the money that will enable her and her mother to stay on the road. "You can't play tennis for 20 years."

Like Hingis, Majoli is coming through her teens seemingly unscathed - a quick-witted, aware young person who, from the age of 12, spent five years at the Nick Bollettieri Academy in Florida but never forgot her homeland because pictures of the war there were constantly on television in the family's apartment in Sarasota. "I cried whenever that happened," Majoli said, nursing a cold after she and Hingis had just come off court from a doubles.

The family has now moved back to Zagreb and Majoli is happy about that. "Life there is a bit like Italy. People go out all together. In Florida you had to get in the car to go anywhere. All you could do was to go to malls. But there was Disneyland. I think the important thing is not to let success go to your head. If you start getting cocky no one will talk to you."

While Hingis's gentler game still occasionally comes unstuck - she was surprisingly beaten in Paris by the Italian Silvia Farina - Majoli's combination of flair and athleticism has taken her to the brink of high achievement. She beat Monica Seles in Tokyo earlier this month, and along with the 19-year-old Chanda Rubin of the United States is clearly the best of the generation that has yet to win any Grand Slam tournaments.

Women's tennis has not had the best of luck in recent years. You could certainly lay some of the blame for the Capriati debacle at the doors of the WTA, but not Steffi Graf's problems with her father or the stabbing of Seles. As Seles once again begins to dominate and retirement looms ever larger over Graf's career, Majoli, Hingis and Rubin are suddenly very important to the future of the game.

From the WTA headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut, Anne Worcester, the organisation's chief executive officer, would like to think that the era of teenage burn-out is gone for good. Just before Capriati dropped out the WTA set up the age eligibility commission whose recommendations led to new guidelines which restricts the number of tournaments girls can play until they are 18.

"The average age of the top 10 is now 23," Worcester noted in a that's-more-like-it tone. "A major sponsor is going to be less interested in a junior playing in a futures tournament than if they were in Grand Slams.

The WTA is trying to promote a much greater sense of togetherness on the tour. Groups of players are being organised into non-tennis activities. There is a "mentor programme" under discussion, whereby an older player takes a younger one under their wing. It's all designed to alleviate what Worcester calls "the stresses" of being a teenage player.

The shadow of Capriati can never quite be removed. Letting her into big-time tennis so young was "a huge mistake", Worcester said. She doesn't want any more of them.
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Re: 1996

And of course, the injury bug was soon to bite.

Rising Star Tries to Conquer the Late Lapses
SAMANTHA STEVENSON
The New York Times
February 18, 1996

It's all about patterns for Chanda Rubin, or more accurately, breaking patterns.

Rubin broke into the top 10 on the women's tour last month with a stunning run to the Australian Open semifinals before losing -- barely -- to Monica Seles in a match she could have won.

Marcel Freeman, Rubin's coach, believes her breakdowns at critical moments in matches she seems to have in the bag happen because she tends to ride an emotional roller coaster on court.

"She panics," said Freeman, who had coached Lindsay Davenport before becoming Rubin's traveling coach last April. "She begins to protect her lead, thinking about winning. She would blow a lead and become upset. It was a pattern and her game would break down. I'm just now breaking that pattern."

If Rubin took a major step forward at the Australian Open, she also took a step back. She put away Arantxa Sanchez Vicario in a 6-4, 2-6, 16-14 quarterfinal, but then she had Seles on the ropes, leading by 5-2 in the final set, and couldn't knock her out.

Rubin, who turned 20 today, has replayed the biggest match of her career again and again in her mind, watching the tape with her coaches, and answering the same question: What happened?

"I thought about winning a little bit," the 10th-ranked Rubin said about the match with Seles. "It could have hurt me. I said a lot of things to myself. 'Keep working' was one of them."

The 5-foot-6-inch Rubin's fullcourt aggression and presence at the net appeared to be the perfect game plan against Seles. But Rubin's unforced errors seemed to boost Seles's determination. Before long, the match was lost, 6-7 (2-7), 6-1, 7-5.

"She's a tough competitor," Rubin said, in her typically understated way.

It is left to Freeman, a voluble, opinionated former ATP Tour player, to expand on Rubin's competitive coming of age, specifically her penchant for turning straightforward victories into epic struggles.

"She came a long way in the Sanchez match," Freeman said. "She played a great match, but gave way too many match points to go to 16-14. At the French, against Jana Novotna, she was up, 7-6, 3-1, rolling the girl, and she let Novotna off the hook. This match changed her career. In the end, Novotna gave it to her. Wimbledon, the same thing against Patricia Hy-Boulais. Neither one could win, but they refused to lose."

Freeman has his own ideas about why, and they center on the difference he perceives between men and women on the tennis court. "Momentum is not as great on the women's side as it is on the men's," he said. "The men have the serve. The women have to fight for every game. Women also seem to entertain more fear of themselves and success, instead of putting it all on the line and going for it. They get uptight and all hell breaks loose. Men get through it easier."

Then, he spoke specifically about Rubin: "Chanda is young and from an overprotective family. She is used to being coddled. On this circuit you can't be coddled. What a tribute it is to what we have been able to accomplished."

What they have accomplished together is a quantum leap from No. 53 to the top 10 in seven months. Before Freeman took the job at the behest of Rubin's parents, Edward and Bernadette, he had heard that Rubin was a great player, ready to explode on the scene. He wasn't so sure when he actually saw his "new project," but recently, Freeman has become a "new believer."

Still, he has reservations.

"I don't think Chanda can beat Steffi Graf," Freeman said. "I could be wrong. But when Steffi is ready to play, she has it all. A level above everybody. Seles is not the player she once was. At 5-2 in the third against Chanda, Monica didn't do anything different; Chanda just broke down."

Somehow, Freeman's unabashed honesty fits in with the firm family foundation and forthright, if deliberate, progress of Rubin's tennis career. She grew up the elder of Edward and Bernadette's two children -- her brother Edward Jr. is 18 -- in Lafayette, La., as a fifth-generation Rubin, in a red brick house with a tennis court and a swimming pool. When her father decided to leave his 20-year-old law practice and run for Lafayette's 15th District Court judicial seat in 1992, Chanda walked door to door canvassing votes. He is up for re-election in October.

Bernadette Rubin retired three years ago from her job as an elementary school teacher after 23 years to manage her daughter's career. While other young players were moving into tennis academies, the Rubins focused on school in Lafayette, and Chanda continued training with one of her girlhood coaches, Ashley Rhoney. And although she turned professional during her sophomore year at Episcopal School of Acadiana, she stayed home and graduated with honors.

"Chanda paid the price for staying in school," said Lynne Rolley, the United States Tennis Association's director of coaching for women's tennis who worked with Rubin from age 12, when the player was first named to the U.S.T.A. national team. "She didn't get as much practice as the others, but she was a happy, talented, friendly player."

According to her mother, Chanda was always certain of her goals.

"She knew what course she wanted to take," Bernadette Rubin said. "She never had tutoring in school. It was so expensive. She had to make up her classes, get assignments and hit the books. She was always organized."

"Chanda was first in her class until her junior year," her father said. "It was a tough call to make -- college or opting for the tour. Academia runs deep in my family. Our son is a national merit semifinalist and was heavily recruited by Yale, Stanford and others. He chose a scholarship to Louisiana State University, where he'll play on the tennis team. We feel Chanda is being educated as a result of her travel, but we hope some day that she will go back to college."

That wish may become a distant memory. Certainly, her on-court success has made her an attractive business commodity.

"The international exposure at the Grand Slams has brought an overwhelming response to Chanda," said Patrick McGee, her agent at Advantage International. "Women in sports is a hot topic right now. Chanda is able to sell women's athletic products not just as a tennis player, but as a top woman athlete."

McGee believes that Rubin will make seven figures in endorsements by the end of the year. She currently has equipment deals with Reebok and Wilson, and another with Saturn automobiles.

McGee also represents Zina Garrison Jackson, and he believes Rubin will have a smoother commercial path than Jackson had during most of her career. That Rubin and Jackson are black American athletes means less in today's advertising climate, McGee said, than in previous years.

"Zina paved the way," McGee said. "There isn't the same racism now. Chanda's hot with all the companies."

For now, Rubin is only mildly interested in the bigger picture. But who knows? She could be the next superstar promoting all-American values with her own milk ad.

"I do drink milk," Rubin said.

Correction: March 1, 1996, Friday

A sports article on Feb. 18 about the tennis player Chanda Rubin and her rise in the women's rankings misstated the number of siblings she has. She is the second of three children, not the elder of two.
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Re: 1996

Well, one year later, Steffi would be in the SI Swimsuit Issue, and a trend would begin.

TIME TO PUT FEMALE ATHLETES IN SWIMSUITS
Scripps Howard News Service
February 18, 1996
WOODY WOODBURN, Scripps-McClatchy Western Service

Here it is the middle of winter with seemingly half the country snowed in, and yet I feel like I am on a sunny beach in the Caribbean.

Before my eyes are more bikini beauties than in eight episodes of "Bay Watch." This is because I have both the new issue of Sport magazine and the Jan. 29 issue of Sports Illustrated -- also known as THE SWIMSUIT ISSUE.

Sport, meanwhile, bills its latest edition as the SPECIAL SWIMSUIT SPECTACULAR which apparently edged out headlining it SPECTACULAR MARKETING PLOY.

Reading -- OK, looking at -- these two "sports" magazines and I am reminded of Rodney Dangerfield's famous quip about going to a boxing match and a hockey game breaking out.

In this case, I went to my mailbox to get a sports magazine and instead I got a Victoria's Secret catalogue. Instead of stories about "Play Ball!" I got Playboy.

Indeed, on page 119 of Sports Illustrated, a woman is "wearing" a top that is literally painted on. A female Dennis Rodman in watercolors.

Don't misunderstand. I am not going to cancel my subscriptions. Like many guys, I enjoy looking at half-naked women -- or, in the case of these two magazines, 19/20ths-naked women.

And not just any women, but supermodels. The Michael Jordans and Troy Aikmans of the runways. Swimsuit superstars.

In the past I have always defended the SI Swimsuit Issue. But this year I feel compelled to voice my complaint about the use of supermodels. Not the swimsuits, just the supermodels.

This year, the 10th anniversary of Title IX which supposedly legislated equality in sports for the distaff athletes, it would have been fitting to tell Kathy Ireland and Tyra Banks and Stacy Williams and Angie Everhart to take the winter off.

Go skiing. Eat some low-fat potato chips and play poker.

Leave the cover of Sports Illustrated -- and the glossy 43-page inside spread -- for female athletes. Too, let SI devote the accompanying 17 pages of swimsuit text to stories about women in sports. That's a total of 60 pages.

Meanwhile, of the edition's six Faces In The Crowd, zero are female faces. Likewise, the Scoreboard section makes no mention of women's athletics.

To be fair, there is a four-page feature on figure skater Michelle Kwan (and Rudy Galindo) winning the national championships. And that is it. Four pages out of 200 devoted to women in sports.

Sport magazine's batting average is even worse. Of its 82 pages, zero make mention of women athletes though a full 25 pages feature models in skimpy swimsuits.

By contrast, in the same week's issue of The Sporting News not a single bikini is to be found in its 54 pages. However, there is a three-page feature on the United States national women's basketball team. A slam dunk in the battle of the sexes for TSN.

Now, back to Swimsuit Illustrated, I mean Sports Illustrated. Its famous swimsuit issue is now 32 years old -- which is to say it was born before most of the supermodels in it were.

I admit to racing to the school library or my mailbox to see probably the last 20 or so Swimsuit Issues. And of all those pulse-quickening pictures, I really can only recall two in my mind.

The first, if you are now a thirtysomething male you may remember too -- Cheryl Tiegs in her famous one-piece fishnet suit that became transparent when wet. And it was wet.

But the other photo I have in mind is my all-time favorite, and not because it is revealing. It isn't.

In the 1987 picture which I have just pulled out (Hey! I keep all my back issues of SI, not just the swimsuit editions) Kathy Ireland is shown on the sands of the Dominican Republic.

On the sands of a baseball infield.

Ireland is wearing a white one-piece swimsuit that looks like it could actually be worn to swim laps in, imagine that! She also is wearing white sneakers and a New York Mets cap twisted tomboyishly askew on her head.

And instead of posing, Ireland has a softball bat in her hands as she strides into a floating pitch with her supermodel superblue eyes focused on the ball while a catcher in full gear crouches behind the plate.

Believe me, Ken Griffey Jr. may have a beautiful $34-million swing but he was never a tenth as good looking at the plate.

Indeed, maybe Sports Illustrated (or Sport), just once, should devote its Swimsuit Issue to similar sporting shots. Moreover, why not use real female athletes?

Like, say, shoot Steffi Graf playing tennis on a red clay court while wearing a white swimsuit? Or Monica Seles or Gabriela Sabatini or Mary Pierce.

Or, perhaps, any of a number of Swedish LPGA stars. (What do you think of that, Ben Wright?!)

Or shoot USA basketball stars Valerie Ackerman and Lisa Leslie and Rebecca Lobo and Sheryl Swoopes shooting baskets in swimsuits.

Or Florence Griffith-Joyner bursting out of the blocks or Marion Jones breaking the tape in a Speedo instead of a Nike track singlet. Actually, some track outfits are more revealing.

And maybe feature Olympic women skiers slaloming in swimsuits.

Or, and here's a really novel thought, run some swimsuit photos of real swimmers like Janet Evans or Summer Sanders.

The bottom line is this: Instead of paying superbucks to supermodels, pay the money to super athletes who could surely use it more. And if any of the athletic federations have a problem with the women athletes being paid, put the money in trust funds that support women's athletics.

That would turn what is arguably an act of sexism into one of capitalism for a worthy -- and needy -- cause.

(Woody Woodburn writes for The Star in Ventura, Calif.)
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Re: 1996

SPORTS' DOUBLE STANDARD CHEATS FEMALE ATHLETES
Press-Telegram
Long Beach, CA
February 19, 1996
Martina Navratilova

I often hear famous people complain about the mail they receive. They say it's too much, too little, or it's too boring. Or fans ask difficult questions.

Hearing from people around the world is one of the perks of fame I have always enjoyed most. I have learned a lot from them.

Some fans have great ideas, and some are not so great. Some touch me with their stories, and some mistake me for their confessor.

But I'll never need to commission a public-opinion poll to see how I'm doing: The mail is the only barometer I need.

Fortunately, it was before the popularity of e-mail when I was asked about Magic Johnson's announcement that he was HIV-positive. Otherwise, I might have been responsible for jamming the Internet.

Instead, my fan mail just temporarily slowed down the U.S. Postal Service.

Magic Johnson publicly announced he was HIV-positive in 1991 while I was in a tennis tournament in New York, so a reporter asked me a question about him during a postmatch interview.

Johnson said that his many sexual contacts led to his being infected with HIV. I said to the reporter: ''If it had happened to a heterosexual woman, who had been with 100 or 200 men, they'd call her a whore and a slut and the corporations would drop her like a lead balloon. And she would never get another job in her life.

''It's a big-time double standard,'' I added.

One columnist termed my response as taking ''the more difficult, more noticeable road'' when I spoke out against an AIDS double standard.

To me, my reply was an honest answer. I was questioning whether people would be as understanding if I said I was HIV-positive.

''No, because they'd say I'm gay -- I had it coming,'' I responded to the columnist. ''That's why they're accepting it with him, because supposedly he got it through heterosexual contact.''

Magic was characterized by many as one of the ''good guys'' who got the virus ''by accident'' or ''the right way.''

I strike fear in the hearts of not only postal workers but also die-hard fans when I point out that there are gay men and lesbians in all walks of life.

For example, I once wrote in an editorial that there were gay quarterbacks -- and even inserted a parenthetical ''gasp!'' in the copy. This set off another firestorm of mail.

Most men were infuriated, and I was told repeatedly -- and in no uncertain terms -- it was impossible for a football star to be gay.

So, American letter writers have taught me two important lessons. First, it's all right for a man to contract HIV or AIDS if he has slept with many, many women. And second, quarterbacks are not gay.

Let's assume I accept those statements (and I won't, not for a moment) -- that still leaves us with a lot of inequities in sports.

I thought golf commentator Ben Wright had temporarily lost his mind when he made negative comments about women golfers last year.

I have been misquoted by reporters many times, so, when Wright's network and colleagues quickly voiced their denials, I thought there had to be a misunderstanding.

Later, when proof that Wright had made disparaging comments surfaced, his response was as quick and strong as his defenders' had been earlier.

Wright's explanation was simple: The reporter was an unhappy lesbian.

What amazed me was how CBS unequivocally supported Wright throughout. Amidst the controversy, CBS even rewarded him with a new four-year contract.

One can only wonder if CBS's support would have been as strong and Wright's tone as dismissive if the reporter had been a man.

Recently -- with the evidence of his statements no longer in question -- CBS took Wright off the air. But they did not fire him.

After making incredibly insensitive and sexist remarks, the man will still get paid -- and the double standard lives on.

That double standard in sports goes far beyond heterosexual and gay issues: It's as basic as men and women.

Is it significant that only one female athlete was cited in Forbes' year-end list of 1995's 40 hightest-paid athletes: Steffi Graf at No. 30? Or that the second highest-paid athlete, Mike Tyson, spent more than half of 1995 in jail on a rape conviction?

''Three years in prison didn't hurt market-ability,'' a Forbes writer said. The writer did, however, note: ''No endorsements for convicted rapists, though.''

Why was Pete Sampras lauded for crying during an emotional match, while female tennis players are characterized as ''choking'' or having ''one of those bad days'' if they cry?

What could be worse for a male athlete than to be described as ''hitting like a girl''?

Will there be a time when women sportscasters and analysts are not novelties?

When was the last time a male athlete or commentator was described as shrill, hysterical, weak or emotional?

When was the last time a male athlete was asked about his or his teammates' sexuality?

Do male athletes really need more protection with respect to their sexual privacy than women?

Why is it that women athletes have to ''prove'' their heterosexuality, while male athletes are automatically assumed to be straight?

Why is it so easy to label female athletes lesbian, and so easy to disbelieve that male athletes could possibly be gay?

A male athlete who fathers a child out of wedlock is seen as virile -- one of the guys. A nonmarried female athlete who gets pregnant has no choice but to ''disappear'' for the good of her sport.

The longtime, former sponsor of women's tennis, Virginia Slims, used the slogan, ''You've come a long way, baby.'' Women athletes have always gone the distance. It just took longer to get noticed and even longer to be compensated fairly.

So, as 1996 begins, the female tennis pros are still being paid less than the men at the Australian Open. And for the French Open in May, women's matches for the second year are given less-than-desirable courts and match times.

And these are Grand Slam tournaments -- ''showcases'' that air on international television and attract new viewers and potential fans to the sport.

Many of my friends and former opponents are pioneers in the quest for equality in sports. Many were proud of their efforts when in 1994 Madison Square Garden announced that my ''jersey'' would be retired, the way the Garden displays retired hockey and basketball players' uniforms.

It was an overwhelming feeling to see ''Navratilova'' on a uniform, hanging atop the Garden beside such great names as Dave DeBusschere and Walt Frazier.

It was less overwhelming when I learned -- through a newspaper -- that my ''uniform'' would only be on display during women's tennis events at the Garden.

I'm not complaining. I'd rather have my number and uniform in storage 51 weeks a year than spend one moment in the numbered uniform Mike Tyson wore for three years in prison.

The taking down of my jersey created a flood of fan mail. As always, there was a combination of support, sympathy, confusion, passion and offers to help.

Let's keep those cards and letters coming in.

I know that the majority of fans do not regard women in sports as less interesting or skilled than men. The mail tells me that.

If the letter writers -- and now e-mail and chat-group correspondents -- keep up their messages, maybe the people who make the marketing and broadcasting decisions will finally understand.

Yes, female athletes have come a long way. It's time for the rest of the world to catch up.

(Martina Navratilova, who retired from professional tennis in 1994, won more tennis titles than any person in history. This article was distributed by New York Times Special Features.)
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Re: 1996

1996: The shape of things to come
John Roberts
The Independent
London, England
January 1, 1996

No prizes for guessing what is at the top of Monica Seles' career wish list. "I've not played well at Wimbledon, ever," she reminds us. "I hope I have a chance one year to play well there."

Seles' last visit to the All England Club, in 1992, which began with journalists using "gruntometers", deteriorated further when Nathalie Tauziat and Martina Navratilova in turn complained to umpires about her noise level, and ended with a disappointing - and totally muted - perormance against Steffi Graf in the final.

The previous year, Seles withdrew on the eve of the tournament and spent subsequent weeks spinning a web of mystery about her disappearance (sore shins was the mudane explanation when eventually it came).

Seles' prospects of winning the only Grand Slam singles title to have eluded her may depend as much on the form and fitness of Graf as on her own well-being. Both players have suffered physically since Seles' astonishing sequence of victories on returning to the game 27 months after being stabbed ended with a defeat by the German in the final of the United States Open in September. Graf has undergone foot surgery and will miss the Australian Open next month for the second consecutive year. Seles is among the entries, although a knee injury has kept her out of tournaments since the US Open.

After making her comeback in an exhibition match against Martina Navratilova in Atlantic City in July, Seles said she hoped to be in good shape for 1996. The women's game shares that hope as it moves into another potentially difficult year with a new WTA Tour sponsor, Corel, the Canadian computer software company. The WTA Tour Players' Association is already at odds with the organisers of the Australian Open, once staunch supporters of equal prize money, who decided to give more to the men, with the exception of the two singles champions.

Money is not everything, as players keep telling us. So, although Seles is loath to plan too far ahead, the Olympics in July may be another of her targets. Born in Novi Sad, in the former Yugoslavia, she is now eligible to play for the United States through citizenship.

British tennis, while desperate for a revival in the women's game, will trust in continued improvement among the men. May brings an opportunity to take the first stride back towards Davis Cup respectability, with a tie against Slovenia at Newcastle.

A special cheer will be reserved for Jeremy Bates on his last appearance at Wimbledon, and there will be fond farewells for Stefan Edberg as the exemplary champion from Sweden makes a final world tour of the courts.

PREDICTIONS: Monica Seles to accomplish a Grand Slam plus the Olympic title. Pete Sampras to make it four in a row at Wimbledon.
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Re: 1996

Seles Is Set For Her '96 World Tour
ROBIN FINN
The New York Times
January 3, 1996

Girded by three months of innovative physical therapy prescribed by her orthopedist, Dr. Richard Steadman, and with her mental mettle tweaked whenever necessary by Jerry May, her sports psychologist, Monica Seles, has pronounced herself ready for a full-time leap back onto the tennis circuit in 1996.

"I'm excited to be back," the 22-year-old Seles said yesterday from her home in Sarasota, Fla., where she was busy practicing and packing for her first extended road trip in nearly three years. Although Seles ended a 28-month exile from tennis last summer, when she captured the Canadian Open and was runner-up to her archrival, Steffi Graf, at the United States Open, in her mind her official comeback starts now.

"It feels better to know I have some type of schedule for the year; I'm a person who likes to plan out my day," said Seles, whose career plans were demolished when she was stabbed in the back by a deranged fan of Graf's on April 30, 1993. For the next two years, a crippling combination of physical and emotional setbacks prevented Seles from competing at all.

The physical problems, Seles said, are persisting in defiance of her mental commitment to return. Once a player whose physique seemed the mirror image of her iron will, Seles has been less than bionic in the course of her second coming on the circuit she throughly dominated before her abrupt departure in 1993.

The tendinitis that cropped up in her left knee last summer was followed by an ankle sprain in late October that occasioned her withdrawal from the year-ending WTA Tour Championships.

Lately, Seles has been confined to a steady diet of antibiotics. "I've had some type of virus, and my blood work was not good, and it's still not back where it should be," she said. "Even two weeks ago I still was not sure whether I'd be able to make it."

Seles was speaking of her Australian itinerary, and she called the trip a big bonus. "After all, I have not yet lost a match there," pointed out Seles, whose Australian Open record stands at an intimidating 21-0.

"I went into every season trying to do well at the Grand Slams," she said of a strategy that had reaped eight Grand Slam tournament crowns by the time she won her third straight Australian title in 1993.

Seles hopes this year won't be any different, but after her two-year absence from Melbourne, she has taken extra precautions to insure that she's in fighting shape.

Seles has not only added a warm-up event next week in Sydney, but she is starting the year with a cram course in competition. "I'm playing four weeks in a row," she said. "I've never done that before, so it should be quite a test." She will compete at Sydney, Melbourne and Tokyo before returning to the United States for the rest of the winter.

Seles was disappointed by the Australian Open's decision to end its policy of gender equity in its distribution of prize money, but not disappointed enough to boycott.

"I heard something about it, but nobody had that conversation with me officially or unofficially," said Seles, who terms herself sufficiently secure financially to want "to play tennis even if there was no prize money. But I don't think it's fair, and I hope they change it back."

Seles said she would miss Graf, who is skipping the Australian Open because of a foot surgery. Regarding the tax-related difficulties of two of her peers -- Graf's father, Peter, remains jailed on charges of tax evasion and mishandling her earnings, and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario was questioned last month about the validity of her residence in Andorra, a Spanish tax haven -- Seles said she anticipated no such distractions for herself.

"I had to learn about the business side of it since I was 9," said Seles, who began making her own travel reservations then and left Yugoslavia for the United States soon after. "When you put your signature on a tax return, athlete or not, you have to know what you are signing."
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post #8 of 1263 (permalink) Old Feb 22nd, 2016, 12:40 AM Thread Starter
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Re: 1996

Seles set to revive Grand Slam momentum
John Roberts talks to the joint No 1 in women's tennis, who is finally free of injury and preparing for the Australian Open

John Roberts
The Independent
London, England
January 4, 1996

Monica Seles, in common with many, is about to return to work after being laid low with a virus. She is in excellent spirits, however, having journeyed to Australia, a country where she has experienced nothing but success and happiness.

The Australian Open was the setting for the last of Seles's eight Grand Slam triumphs before she was stabbed in the back in Germany in April 1993. Her victory against Steffi Graf extended a perfect record in Melbourne to 21 matches, completing a hat-trick of Australian Open titles.

She recalled the occasion with particular pleasure, remembering it as the first time she felt comfortable being the world No 1, and expressed delight and relief to be back. "I'm very excited because even about two weeks ago I wasn't sure I was going tobe able to make it," said Seles, who will acclimatise for the main event, which starts on 15 January, by competing in Sydney for the first time next week.

Seles's enthusiasm is matched by the Australian Open organisers, who rely heavily on her participation, having lost Graf to injury for the second consecutive year. The Wimbledon champion, who shares the No 1 ranking with Seles, has undergone footsurgery. Seles has had numerous health problems since their epic United States Open final in September.

"I had a great US Open and I wanted to keep continuing that momentum, and it was just frustrating not to be able to finish the year off," Seles said. The virus compounded her troubles after she tore ankle ligaments while endeavouring to cope with a knee injury which has bothered her since training for her comeback last July.

"I started feeling very weak, too tired to do anything, and I had to go to hospital one time," she said. "They did blood tests and I've been on antibiotics."

None the less, Seles is preparing to mop her brow, tape her ankles, wear shoes with reinforced soles to protect her knees on the hard courts, and face the challenge of playing for a solid month. "I have never done that before and I'm a little nervous about it, but I'm going to see how it works," she said.

"It will be quite a test I think, fitness-wise and mentally, also. I'm nervous because I'm going from Australia, where it's summer, to Japan, where it's going to be cold and it's indoors and on synthetic grass. That will be a tough adjustment.

"I wanted to try it because 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 let's just try this and see how it goes. My dad is not in too big agreement with it, but I'll try it for one time and if it doesn't work, I will readjust my schedule."

Keen to sharpen her match fitness, the 22-year-old Seles has two particular goals in mind: Wimbledon - "the one Grand Slam I haven't done well in" - and making her debut at the Olympics, in which she hopes to represent the United States. "I can't wait for the opening-day ceremonies," she said. "That's the main thing, just being there and watching a few other athletes and being in the stands and cheering for them."

Her thoughts are stretching four years beyond Atlanta, however. "Hopefully, while I'm in Sydney I'll be able to see some of the sights," she said. "They're preparing for the next summer Olympics. I'm looking forward very much to both of them."

Having won $7.8m (pounds 5.2m) in official prize-money alone, in spite of being out of the game for 27 months after the stabbing, Seles can afford to adopt a Corinthian approach. In expressing opposition to the Australian Open's decision to abandon equal prize-money, except in the case of the singles champions, she said: "I do hope that they'll change that, because I don't think it's fair. But I would still play tennis, even if there would be no prize-money at all."

She was asked if she took a greater interest in her financial affairs than Graf, whose father/manager, Peter, is accused of evading tax on his daughter's earnings. Seles explained that her finances are handled by her agents. "I do my expenses, and those things are my worry," she said. "But when you put your signature on tax returns, you have to know what you're signing; all of us, not just an athlete. I think after 18 you have to know what's going on for later on in your life, after you stop playing tennis."

She added that she began to learn about travel arrangements from the age of nine, and there is evidence to suggest that she also kept track of her income from an early age.

Shortly after turning professional at the age of 15 in 1989, Seles visited a tournament office and thanked the organisers. When she did not leave, she was asked if she was waiting for her father. "No," she said, "I'm waiting for my cheque."
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post #9 of 1263 (permalink) Old Feb 25th, 2016, 04:05 PM Thread Starter
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Re: 1996

Obviously, there was more to Jaeger's burnout than a busted shoulder, so it's good to know that "it's never too late to have a happy childhood."

Sports of the Times;The Lessons Of Mixing Work, Play
By HARVEY ARATON
February 22, 1996
New York Times

SHE once beat Billie Jean King on Center Court at Wimbledon, and Chris Evert on the red Paris clay. She was ranked second in the world. Andrea Jaeger, who surrendered much of her childhood and a teen-ager's life in order to do so, said yesterday from her home in Aspen: "I can't say 'I don't want those memories.' "

Her road to 30 years of age has already been paved, so it is pointless for her to speculate how different a second chance would be. Jaeger only knows what she would do if blessed with the opportunity to guide someone else.

"I wouldn't let my kid turn pro at 14," she said.

Over the last few years, she has had intimate conversations on this very subject with Jennifer Capriati, another vanquished child of the pushy tennis parent wars.

Capriati yesterday won her first match in two and a half years, routing Kristie Boogert of the Netherlands, 6-1, 6-2, in the opening round of the Faber Grand Prix in Essen, Germany. It could be that Capriati, contrary to her one-match comeback 16 months ago, is finally going to shake her parents' dream-turned-nightmare, complete a life-style evolution from ingenue to on her own.

A 13-year-old millionaire before one professional stroke, Capriati is suddenly weeks short of turning 20. Jaeger said she has suggested to Capriati that she let go of the time hopelessly lost. "I can't replace the years when I was 13, 14," she said. "Neither can she."

A blond, pig-tailed product of the Evert-inspired moonball generation, Jaeger did not quite sink to Capriati's depths -- into drugs, then onto the police blotter following a humiliating bust. She was less rebellious, a devout follower of a one-dimensional dad. She let the blinders stay on, hit and hit and hit until her shoulder simply gave out. Seven surgeries did not restore its potency and Jaeger was, for the most part, finished at the age Capriati is now.

It wasn't easy to build another life, find another passion, but she did. You see her around major tournaments as a television commentator, but Jaeger's real love is her Kid Stuff Foundation. She combs the tennis circuit for largess from corporations, like Nike, and philanthropists, like John McEnroe. She brings children who have serious or fatal diseases to Aspen to play tennis, to raft, to ski. To be carefree kids before it is too late, the way it is too late for her. "Just because I'm around a lot of children doesn't mean I can go fly a kite and be a child again," she said. "But I can make a difference with them, and enjoy doing that."

She can also, when asked, lend her experience, her wisdom, to others. She has told Capriati that tennis does not have to be the old way, or no way at all. There is no research suggesting that sitting in the hotel with your father or coach makes you a better, or safer, player. There is no proof that socializing with contemporaries on Monday evening saps the will to defeat them on Tuesday afternoon.

At the Australian Open last month, Jaeger was startled by how much time the younger women were spending together. She went dancing and to the movies with Iva Majoli, Gabriela Sabatini, Martina Hingis and Anke Huber. They went to dinners, sat and gossiped for hours. They played weird games in amusement centers.

"There was this boxing game, where you have to go inside this booth and wear these big gloves," she said. "I told them, 'maybe you shouldn't go in there.' Martina dragged me in. We're all in there jumping around and Martina's mother is standing there looking right at us."

Jaeger said it was the best Australian Open she ever had, and she didn't hit a ball.

It made her smile, and think that this mixture of work and play would make these players happier people with longer careers. It reintroduced some personal sadness, too, her sense of teen-aged loss.

"Now I can see what my career was supposed to have been," she said. "I would like to be a pro right now because of the people."

It is too late for her, but not for Capriati, who does not come back projected as a savior of women's tennis. Steffi Graf and Monica Seles are the Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson of this game, so maybe Capriati can find her place as another good player, join the crowd, have some good times, on the court and off.

Jaeger acknowledged there would certainly be some irony to that. "I think," she said, "this is what the young players have learned from what happened to Jennifer and myself."
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post #10 of 1263 (permalink) Old Feb 25th, 2016, 04:12 PM Thread Starter
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Re: 1996

Did it not occur to anyone that if physical and verbal abuse are the only ways to get someone to "toe the mark on the court," then maybe she doesn't want to be a professional tennis player? Maybe all these players who have been press-ganged as children into tennis, like Pierce and Capriati and Agassi, should be allowed to decide for themselves what level, if any, of effort and commitment to give. Better yet, how about no more press-ganging children into tennis? Because I think the ones that really like playing would make for a better quality "product."

Also, Steffi will pick up right where she left off, and even ahead of schedule ... maybe because she really does like playing.

PIERCE'S TASTE FOR PARTYING LEADS TO A PARTING OF WAYS
Sun-Sentinel
February 25, 1996
CHARLES BRICKER

How strange to hear Nick Bollettieri praising his one-time tormentor, Jim Pierce.

The men have been best of enemies for more than a year, since Pierce's talented but undisciplined daughter, Mary, signed on as a Bollettieri protege.

Big Jim, who already had been banned from attending WTA Tour events because of his boorish behavior, sent an extremely nasty letter to the Florida tennis media, attacking Bollettieri as a charlatan who could never give Mary the coaching he had

Now that Bollettieri has dumped party-time Mary Pierce, perhaps he has a keener understanding of the difficulties Jim Pierce had in getting his daughter to play world-class tennis.

"Say this for Mr. Pierce, he had Mary toe the mark on the court. I think if you go back and look at when he was coaching her a few years ago, his work ethic made her go the extra mile," Bollettieri said.

"I've always maintained that the reason Mary has done well was not that she was a top athlete, but that she hit the extra balls, did the extra work.

"What we tried to do for her was add the technical expertise. And Mary had some great success, winning the Australian Open a year ago. But for Mary to do this time and again, she needs someone to keep her working."

That someone won't be Bollettieri or Sven Groeneveld, who did the week-to-week coaching and traveling with Pierce. They dumped her last month after Mary refused to cut back on the night-clubbing and late-night partying that cut into or affected the quality of her practices.

"She is wild and out of control," said one source close to the WTA Tour. Her agents at IMG are scrambling for a coach to get her back on the right path.

IMG contacted John Lloyd, who plays on the Corel Champions over-35 tour. He turned down the offer. "With a lot of these players, they expect immediate results. If they don't get it after three months, the coach is out. I wasn't interested in that and I'm having too much fun playing with the Jimmy Connors group," Lloyd said.

Pierce has played only three matches this year, losing two, and her ranking has dipped to No. 13. She was beaten in the second round of he Australian Open by Elena Likhovtseva and in Paris by Petra Begerow _ two embarrassing defeats.

Looking back over the past year you could see Bollettieri's joy at times over Pierce's progress. He took her from No. 14 to top five.

She has had periods where she threw herself into her profession. Her training before the 1994 Australian was Pierce at her best. But she doesn't seem to have any interest in sustaining her commitment. Not like Steffi Graf or Monica Seles. And without the commitment, she's just another player on the women's tour.

Second serves

The men's ranking system is under heavy fire again and will get more heavy study this year. Once again, the debate centers on the "best-14" concept, in which players' top 14 tournament finishes are used and other results thrown out. This leads to a lot of matches in which players don't give their best effort because nothing is on the line, pros argue. But other systems have flaws, too. It would be surprising if there is any change. ...

It was the current ranking system that led to Thomas Muster being No. 1 for a week two weeks ago, but who would ever accuse Muster of not giving 100 percent? Muster isn't going to like John McEnroe's comment, when it gets back to him. "Not even Muster believes he's No. 1," Mac said. ...

Stefan Edberg says he may retire from the tour before his scheduled post-U.S. Open date if he continues to go out in early rounds. Lipton officials are planning a major fete for him when he arrives. He is ranked No. 33. ...

Patrick Rafter, recovered from wrist surgery, has a long road back from No. 76 and is no longer the hope of Australian tennis. That has fallen to Mark Philippoussis, 19, No. 24 in the world. ...

Monica Seles will stay on Grove Isle for the Lipton. Graf is on Fisher Island. Graf is going to have a tough time coming back from foot surgery. She probably will have to play Lipton cold turkey, since she isn't going to Indian Wells the week before and, in order to enhance the women's tournament in Indian Wells, the WTA has forbidden any exhibition matches during that week. ...

New UM coach Rodney Harmon has a chance next year to put together the 'Canes best team in years. He has a letter-of-intent commitment from Michael Russell, the top-ranked junior in the United States. ...

Four Ws top America's Red Clay tournament at Coral Springs in May - Mats Wilander, David Wheaton and the Woodies, Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge. Woodbridge won the tournament over Greg Rusedski a year ago. ...

Ivan Baron, son of Red Clay promoter Ivan Baron, has turned to politics. He is the Division II representative on the ATP Tour Players Council.
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post #11 of 1263 (permalink) Old Feb 25th, 2016, 04:14 PM Thread Starter
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Re: 1996

1.) What's wrong with Agassi? He hates tennis and has since he was a kid, but he feels like he's stuck with it, that's what.

2.) Capriati did not have the best groundstrokes in the game.

3.) An appearance by Graf at Sea Pines Racquet Club IS out of the question, because the women's Lipton final was on March 30, and Hilton Head began on April 1. Switching surfaces in less than a week is not a good idea, and just proves that the WTA schedule-makers hated the top players and/or certain tournaments and wanted them to fail.

What's wrong with Agassi?
The Post and Courier
Charleston, SC
February 25, 1996
JAMES BECK

Andre Agassi losing in the first round to Luke Jensen?

Something must be wrong.

Even playing at a 50 percent level, Agassi shouldn't have any trouble with the switching-hands Jensen, who has never been ranked higher than No. 168 in the world in singles.

He's been ranked in the 900s in the last three years and is currently in the 400s.

Jensen, of course, is half of the "rock n'roll" brothers doubles team. Younger brother Murphy is the other half. Some local fans might remember Luke when he played in a satellite tournament at Creekside Tennis and Swim a few years ago.

You wouldn't forget this guy. He's all forehand because he switches hands on strokes. He's obviously a great athlete and an excellent doubles player in tennis, but singles isn't among his bag of tricks.

If this guy beats anyone on the tour in singles, it's generally regarded as an upset.

But Agassi? And easily, as in Wednesday's 6-2, 6-4 decision in Memphis?

When a player who was No. 1 in the world just two weeks earlier starts falling apart so drastically, you've got to wonder what's going on.

Maybe there's trouble with girlfriend Brooke Shields.

Remember, Agassi became upset while watching Brooke's kissing scenes recently during the taping of TV's "Friends."

Capriati no surprise

Jennifer Capriati's successful return to the pro tour shouldn't be surprising. Prior to her departure from the tour nearly three years ago, her game had No. 1 written all over it.

No one on the tour hit deeper, better-paced ground strokes, not even Steffi Graf or Monica Seles.

Capriati apparently has picked up just about where she left off. If so, she's going to be awfully tough to beat on hard courts.

Maybe there is another contender for future No. 1 other than Seles and Iva Majoli.

Steffi uncertain

There's still no word on whether Graf, still sidelined by foot surgery, will play in the Family Circle.

But, there's hope, especially since the WTA Tour confirmed Friday by telephone that Graf is scheduled to return to the tour March 18 for the two-week Lipton Championships.

That's the tournament just prior to the Family Circle, and the Lipton is on hard courts.

Since the Family Circle is the initial clay-court event of the season and almost all of the world's big guns are entered, an appearance by Graf at Sea Pines Racquet Club isn't out of the question.
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post #12 of 1263 (permalink) Old Feb 27th, 2016, 12:23 AM Thread Starter
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Re: 1996

And between Steffi's ambivalent feelings at the time toward Germany and the German Tennis Federation and her love of a good epic match (win or lose) against an opponent with a worthy fighting spirit, a diplomatic solution was found to Billie Jean's and Monica's belly-aching. But part of me would like to know how this would have played out if Germany had beaten Japan, because, at least in theory, a Germany vs. USA Fed Cup tie could have been a fairly common occurrence in the late 90s.

U.S. would balk at playing in Germany, says King
February 26, 1996
Reuter Information Service

NEW YORK - U.S. Fed Cup captain Billie Jean King said Monday the United States would balk at playing in Germany with Monica Seles on the team if the two nations advanced to a showdown in the semifinals this summer.

"I don't think we should go to Germany because of Monica," King told Reuters.

"If we have to play (against) Germany, we should have a neutral place," said King. "Definitely. There is not even a question."

Seles, sidelined for more than two years before coming back last summer after being stabbed in the back during a match in Hamburg in April 1993, has vowed not to play in Germany. Her attacker, Gunther Parche, was not sentenced to jail time for the crime [sic].

Seles began her comeback by winning the Canadian Open last summer. Since then she has reached the 1995 U.S. Open final and won this year's Australian Open.

The U.S. Fed Cup team must win in Austria, and Germany prevail against Japan in opening-round matches April 27-28 to set up a semifinal clash July 13-14.

"We are on a collision course," King said of the two teams, who are both heavy favorites in the opening round.

With that in mind, talks with Fed Cup officials have already been initiated by U.S. officials, according to King, who appeared at a news conference to promote HBO's Wimbledon coverage team of King, Martina Navratilova and Mary Carillo.

"We have already put in a request a long time ago that we want to work through this," said King. "I really do not want to go to Germany. I would hope we could resolve this."

King is counting on having Seles as the United States seeks its first Cup title since 1990 and 15th overall. Last year the U.S. team, without Seles, lost in the final in Spain.

"We need her if we are going to win the whole thing," King said. "From everything that Monica tells me, and she has told the world, she wants to play."

Seles has stated her interest in playing Fed Cup so she could be eligible to play in the Olympics this summer. She had been on the team for last year's final, but withdrew with a knee injury just days before the first match.

King said she is also eyeing Jennifer Capriati, who has not played regularly since 1993 as she battled personal problems and undergone drug rehabilitation, as a possibility for the U.S. team's first-round tie in Salzburg.

"I think she will want to play," King said of Capriati, who reached the quarterfinals last week at Essen, Germany, in her first tournament in more than a year.

"I hope both (Seles and Capriati) are available because we have to have our best team," said King.
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post #13 of 1263 (permalink) Old Feb 29th, 2016, 01:12 AM Thread Starter
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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, but it's time for women's tennis to stop ranking its players on a curve and rank them on an absolute scale. The competition has become so thin that the women should be graded against past champions and former top 10 players

The sad state of affairs has been brewing since Monica Seles returned from a two-year absence. First, she wiped out everyone at last summer's Canadian Open, and then she raced through the U.S. Open to the final, where she was beaten by Steffi Graf in three sets.

The kicker came last week in Essen, Germany. There, Jennifer Capriati proved the lack of depth when she trounced No. 32 Kristie Boogert, beat No. 56 Barbara Schett and pushed No. 12 Jana Novotna to three sets before losing in the quarterfinals. Capriati did this after playing just one match in the past 2 1/2 years.

Further evidence comes from the recent WTA Tour rankings, which find Iva Majoli ranked No. 4, Magdalena Maleeva ranked No. 5 and Chanda Rubin ranked No. 10. While I'm all for a changing of the guard, these players don't deserve the distinction of these lofty positions just yet.

A No. 4 player should be the caliber of Pam Shriver in 1985 or Hana Mandlikova in 1986; a No. 5 in the league of Wendy Turnbull in 1984 or Sylvia Hanika in 1983, and a No. 10 as threatening to the top five as Kathy Jordan in 1984 or Barbara Potter in 1981.

By comparison, in men's tennis, the No. 4 player is Boris Becker, No. 5 is Michael Chang and No. 10 is Wayne Ferreira, all of whom can challenge Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras.

Hence, the need for a ranking system with historical perspective. As for seedings in tournaments, only players who have proved themselves like Seles, Graf and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario would be seeded.

The new rankings system would work similar to the way a grumpy old English teacher might grade high school students. There wouldn't be a certain number of A's, B's and C's. If every student turned in a terrible writing assignment, then there would be only D's and F's. In other words, you competed against the teacher's standards, not the rest of the class.

Make Graf, Seles, Conchita Martinez and Sanchez Vicario be ranked Nos. 1-4, Majoli be ranked, say No. 14, with Rubin approximately No. 22.

John Korff, a tennis promoter since the early 1980s, agrees. He runs the controversial, star-packed Mahwah, N.J., exhibition, and he says that most of the women's players don't sell tickets.

"If Iva Majoli were to play well for four more years that would be great, but you shouldn't get to be fifth in the world just because there are only four people better than you," Korff said. "That's how it is in the consumer's mind. Just because women's tennis had a player ranked fourth in the world doesn't mean they will line up to see her play. If a promoter wants to overpay in prize money because there are 10 players in the top 10 doesn't mean the consumer will follow along."

This is exactly what is happening. The Tier I women's events offer $926,250. For this, a promoter could get a player field of Conchita Martinez, Majoli, Anke Huber, Magdalena Maleeva, Kimiko Date, Mary Joe Fernandez and Rubin - and a lot of empty seats.

However, for some intangible reason, some promoters are willing to keep raising their prize money. Charlie Pasarell, who owns a piece of the WTA Tour event in Indian Wells, Calif., is raising the event's purse to $1 million in 1997 from $300,000 this year.

Perhaps Pasarell is hoping for a virtual reality tour that would morph Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Tracy Austin and Mandlikova in their primes into tournaments against Seles and Graf.
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Re: 1996

Quote:
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.

Quote:
but it's time for women's tennis to stop ranking its players on a curve and rank them on an absolute scale.
Any attempt to rank players on some "absolute scale" will end up being a subjective mess. Or demonstrate your lack of knowledge. Because choosing players like Shriver, Turnbull, and Hanika --particularly some of the years he chose as representative of their results and prowess-- is laughable.

Quote:
The competition has become so thin that the women should be graded against past champions and former top 10 players
I don't think that would work as well as he thinks it would for the past champs and former Top-Tenners. Women's tennis has always been less competitive than it should be. If you look back at the years he's referencing, you'd see much mention of how nobody, with the exception of Mandlikova when the planets were aligned just right, could give Navratilova and Evert a match.

Quote:
The sad state of affairs has been brewing since Monica Seles returned from a two-year absence. First, she wiped out everyone at last summer's Canadian Open, and then she raced through the U.S. Open to the final, where she was beaten by Steffi Graf in three sets.

The kicker came last week in Essen, Germany. There, Jennifer Capriati proved the lack of depth when she trounced No. 32 Kristie Boogert, beat No. 56 Barbara Schett and pushed No. 12 Jana Novotna to three sets before losing in the quarterfinals. Capriati did this after playing just one match in the past 2 1/2 years.
But not after only practicing one match in the past 2 1/2 years! It's the same thing as Seles' return in 1995: If you've been practicing against guys for six months, your game can certainly be very finely honed.

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Further evidence comes from the recent WTA Tour rankings, which find Iva Majoli ranked No. 4, Magdalena Maleeva ranked No. 5 and Chanda Rubin ranked No. 10. While I'm all for a changing of the guard, these players don't deserve the distinction of these lofty positions just yet.
So if half of the Top 10 and most of the Top 30 "deserves" to be empty in 1996, what about the days of the Evertilova hegemony? What was that supporting cast doing to earn their lofty positions?

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A No. 4 player should be the caliber of Pam Shriver in 1985
Pammy's 1985 results:

Tournament / Result / Defeated By, If Applicable

AO (64 draw) / R16 / Lindqvist
Brisbane / F / Navratilova
Filderstadt / W
New Orleans/ F / Evert
Chicago / QF / K. Jordan
USO / QF / Graf
Mahwah / QF / Sabatini
Manhattan Beach / F / Kohde-Kilsch
Newport / F / Evert
Wimbledon / QF / Navratilova
Birmingham / W
FO / DNP singles, entered the doubles / NA
Melbourne (carpet) / W
Australian Indoor / W
Orlando / R16 (had a R32 bye) / K. Maleeva
Hilton Head / QF / Sabatini
Palm Beach / QF / Mandlikova
VSC / QF / Navratilova
Princeton / QF / Tanvier

18 singles tournaments entered, 10 times lost before the semifinals; didn't make a semi at the Slams or the Slims Championships; entirely dodged red clay in singles; losing mostly to other Ladies-In-Waiting and New Kids. And that is supposed to be the epitome of No. 4 in the world? To me, that's ridiculous.

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or Hana Mandlikova in 1986;
He got ONE right! Yay!

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a No. 5 in the league of Wendy Turnbull in 1984
Turnbull lost before the quarterfinals almost 50% of the time in 1984. Also totally dodged all clay.

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or Sylvia Hanika in 1983,
Aside from some indoor finals early in the year, Hanika's 1983 was pretty mundane, with many pre-QF losses to middle-of-the-pack players and no tournament wins; the only topplayers she beat were Shriver and Turnbull. But at least she played on clay!

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and a No. 10 as threatening to the top five as Kathy Jordan in 1984
Ooh, Katty Jordan's wins over Top-Fivers in 1984 were: Turnbull and Shriver (Are you seeing a pattern here?) at Wimbledon; and the real biggie of Evert at Eastbourne (with Navratilova looming in the final), during Chrissie's big existential crisis after Martina walloped her even on French Open clay. Bonus points for playing on clay, though!

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or Barbara Potter in 1981.
In 1981, the only top player Potter beat was Turnbull (surprise!). In all other instances, as soon as she played anybody ranked in the Top 10 --or even somebody who would be ranked in the Top 10-- she lost, usually without much of a fight. BTW, she totally dodged clay, too.

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By comparison, in men's tennis, the No. 4 player is Boris Becker, No. 5 is Michael Chang and No. 10 is Wayne Ferreira, all of whom can challenge Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras.
Only because Sampras didn't care about non-Slams, and Agassi at the time often didn't care about tennis at all. Note how he completely ignores the "Muster the Mercenary is No. 1" controversy. There were men's Top-Tenners who racked up the ranking points at weaker tournaments but often lost early at the tournaments where the world is watching and everybody comes to play; likewise there were men's Top-Tenners who would collect a nice appearance fee (and/or maybe a match fixing pay-off ) at a smaller tournament, tank the first round match against an unknown, and spend the rest of the week golfing. That is not "depth." That is a systemic attitude problem and an obviously flawed ranking scheme.

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Hence, the need for a ranking system with historical perspective.
[SARCASM] Because, damn it, Navratilova should still be ranked No. 1! And No. 2! Maybe even No. 3, too! That pesky Graf is getting dangerously close to the weeks at No. 1 record! Martina's plot to thwart her with the Seles return ranking deal was itself thwarted, so this is the only option! [/SARCASM]

What he's doing is taking former Top-Tenners' best results from their entire careers --and probably even counting their doubles results toward their singles-- and pretending like it happened all in one year, and/or that they were sustaining their sporadic good showings. A true historical perspective would show that after the Top Two or Three, there was a bunch of players who were evenly matched amongst themelves but who also stood almost no chance against the Top Two or Three and were prone to being upset by someone lower down the rankings. Just like in 1996. Just like in 2016.

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As for seedings in tournaments, only players who have proved themselves like Seles, Graf and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario would be seeded.
Which would make for some very unfair possible first round matches, even for Seles, Graf, and ASV.

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The new rankings system would work similar to the way a grumpy old English teacher might grade high school students. There wouldn't be a certain number of A's, B's and C's. If every student turned in a terrible writing assignment, then there would be only D's and F's. In other words, you competed against the teacher's standards, not the rest of the class.
How on earth can you compare tennis with a writing assignment? It's entirely possible for every student to turn in a wonderful paper and then everybody gets an A. But, in the spirit of Sham the racehorse, there are situations in sports when "great" is only second best. Yes, we the fans and the pundits sometimes acknowledge and remember a fantastic losing effort, but all too often we are too quick to dismiss the efforts of the non-winners. When combined with the Only-Slams-Count fever, it creates a lot of problems for tennis.

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Make Graf, Seles, Conchita Martinez and Sanchez Vicario be ranked Nos. 1-4, Majoli be ranked, say No. 14, with Rubin approximately No. 22.
So Majoli, who had just beaten Seles and ASV, only deserves No. 14; and Rubin, who had just beaten ASV and had Seles on the ropes, only deserves No. 22. But Shriver, who didn't beat Evert until 1987 and had won only two sets during her 17 consecutive losses, totally deserves No. 4! Potter is a totally legitmate No. 10 in 1981 with a lone USO semi, some semis at small indoor tournaments, totally dodging clay, but Huber with finals at the tour championships and AO just doesn't derserve to be on the map.

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John Korff, a tennis promoter since the early 1980s, agrees. He runs the controversial, star-packed Mahwah, N.J., exhibition, and he says that most of the women's players don't sell tickets.
Largely because the promoters don't know how to promote tennis as a sport, independent of "stars" and "personalities." And sometimes not even the "stars" and "personalities."

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"If Iva Majoli were to play well for four more years that would be great, but you shouldn't get to be fifth in the world just because there are only four people better than you," Korff said.
If there are only four people IN THE WORLD better than you, I think that makes you fifth in the world. What else should she do to earn fifth in the world? Majoli should not be forced to "wait her turn" for No. 4 just because she's relatively new to the scene and the fans and promoters haven't "noticed" her yet.

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"That's how it is in the consumer's mind. Just because women's tennis had a player ranked fourth in the world doesn't mean they will line up to see her play. If a promoter wants to overpay in prize money because there are 10 players in the top 10 doesn't mean the consumer will follow along."
Promoting tennis as a sporting event should not be that hard, because tennis is a great sport. Unfortunately, the promoters are often just clueless and/or lazy, and potential consumers end up going elsewhere.

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This is exactly what is happening. The Tier I women's events offer $926,250. For this, a promoter could get a player field of Conchita Martinez, Majoli, Anke Huber, Magdalena Maleeva, Kimiko Date, Mary Joe Fernandez and Rubin - and a lot of empty seats.
If you cater to people who are less interested watching the sport than they are in celebrity watching and arguing/complaining, you will get "fans" who are only interested in celebrity watching and arguing/complaining. Don't blame the players for the promoters' marketing mistakes. Target the right demographics and price your product correctly, and you can have 450,000 visitors in 2015. Just like the Tennis Garden.

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However, for some intangible reason, some promoters are willing to keep raising their prize money. Charlie Pasarell, who owns a piece of the WTA Tour event in Indian Wells, Calif., is raising the event's purse to $1 million in 1997 from $300,000 this year.
It's called vision and believing in your product. Or maybe more correctly: Understanding your product.

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Perhaps Pasarell is hoping for a virtual reality tour that would morph Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Tracy Austin and Mandlikova in their primes into tournaments against Seles and Graf.
The punditry would find something to gripe about then, too. And with major changes coming up in 1996 and 1997, this was not a good time for those who needed familiar faces. 1996 would be Graf's last "full" year on the tour. Seles' return would fizzle in 1996 and turn into fiasco in 1997. ASV would sink after one too many losing-side collisions. Martinez was already as good as useless. Sabatini would retire at the end of the year. And there would be a whole new crop of brash up-starts to take the place of the Not-So-New-Anymore New Kids.
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Re: 1996



Seles getting her game and finances ready
Ashley Browne
January 4, 1996
The Age

Perth -- Monica Seles and Steffi Graf won't be locking horns in Australia this summer. Graf's recent foot operation put paid to that.

Nevertheless, Seles couldn't help herself from taking a gentle dip at her great rival yesterday.

Speaking from her Florida home as she finalised her preparations for next week's Peters International and the Ford Australian Open, which immediately follows, Seles said she could not understand how Graf's financial affairs degenerated into such a mess.

"When you put your signature on tax returns, you have to know what you're signing," Seles said. "After you turn 18, you have to know what's going on in every part of your life for when you stop playing tennis. It was something I learnt very early on."

Ladies and gentlemen, Monica Seles is back and, hopefully, this time, for good. Granted, there were those cameo appearances in New Jersey and at the Canadian and US Opens in August and September of last year. But next week at White City will mark what she hopes will be the start of her first uninterrupted season on the tour since 1992.

She nearly wasn't going to come. Seles revealed yesterday that she received the all-clear to travel to Australia only a fortnight ago because of a hitherto unannounced illness.

"I've had this virus and my blood hasn't been very good," Seles told The Age. "I've been really too tired to do anything and it's still not back to where it should be. I've taken all sorts of anti-biotics, so hopefully I'll get back to normal."

Her appearance at Flinders Park is eagerly awaited, not the least because of her flawless record there. Three of her eight grand slam titles were won in Australia and she has yet to taste defeat in Melbourne.

"I like to play down there. Probably one of my best memories, apart from the US Open last year, is of Australia in '93. I love the stadium and I love the court," Seles said.

So far, her experience of Sydney has been restricted to a stopover at Mascot, and while the Peters International is intended to serve as match practice for the Open, Seles fans can nevertheless take heart. The Canadian Open last August was designed to serve a similar purpose for Seles in the build-up to the US Open, yet she finished all but one match in less than an hour and conceded one game, to Amanda Coetzer in the final.

"I think I played some great tennis and both tournaments were special," Seles said. "Canada was a great surprise, because I didn't play for such a long time. I also played very well at the US Open, although afterwards I was a little disappointed. I didn't react as well as I should have in the final - I should have displayed more experience - but I think that was from not playing any more matches."

Courtesy of torn ankle ligaments received on the eve of a late-season tournament in San Francisco, and the mystery virus, Seles has not played since and this remains her only question mark in the lead-up to the Open.

It's something she hopes to correct by playing for four straight weeks for the first time in her career. Following her Sydney and Melbourne appearances comes a tournament in Tokyo.

"I want to try it because I've felt in the past that playing one week and not the next never gave me the time to work on anything. It's worth a try, even though its probably not the best time right on the eve of the Australian Open," she said.

Her father is aghast at the idea. But apart from making her run on the practice court, there is nothing he can do to stop her. Now that Seles is ready to play again, she and she alone will shape her destiny.

It will be a busy year. Apart from the grand slams, the Fed Cup and the Atlanta Olympics, there will be appearances at the perennial favorites such as Palm Springs, the Lipton Championships and the Canadian Open.

And there will be the continued devotion to off-court pursuits such as reading, travel, languages and computers, the sorts of which helped her keep her wits during the trauma that followed the Hamburg stabbing.

"I want to play and to do well in the grand slams. That's what I want to try and keep doing. If there are no improvements to my game, I won't be too happy with myself," she said. "But I also want to find more of a balance off the court, combining day-to-day tennis with being with my friends. But I'm doing OK."

Probably even better than Steffi.
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