1990-the Prodigy Arrives - TennisForum.com
Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 53 (permalink) Old Mar 13th, 2002, 06:33 PM Thread Starter
Moderator - BFTP
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Posts: 24,848
                     
1990-the Prodigy Arrives

I'm going to try and chronicle Jen's remarkable career-the pro part of which kicked off in 1990 at Boca Raton.
Rollo is online now  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 53 (permalink) Old Mar 13th, 2002, 06:35 PM Thread Starter
Moderator - BFTP
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Posts: 24,848
                     
Tennis Prodigy Capriati Making Pro Debut at 13
The Los Angeles Times; Los Angeles, Calif.; Mar 5, 1990;

Jennifer Capriati, a 13-year-old hailed by Billie Jean King as the best young player of any generation, makes her eagerly anticipated
debut in the world of professional tennis Tuesday.

Such is Capriati's reputation already that she has signed endorsement deals reportedly worth more than $5.5 million even before her
first professional match in a $350,000 tournament in her home state of Florida.

The tennis prodigy showed her promise by winning the junior French Open and U.S. Open titles last year and played alongside professionals in the U.S. Wightman Cup team, taking her debut match 6-0, 6-0.

"She is the best young player of this generation or any other generation, including when Tracy Austin and Andrea Jaeger came up,"
said King, winner of 20 Wimbledon titles, who has coached Capriati and will play doubles with her in Boca Raton.
"Her sense of the court, where to hit the ball, is almost as good as (world No. 1 Steffi) Graf's," she said.
Under Women's International Professional Tennis Council rules, a player cannot enter a professional tournament until the month of
her 14th birthday.

Capriati turns 14 on March 28 and says she is confident about coping with the pressure from a nation eager to find a successor to
Chris Evert.
"I'm looking forward to going out there and having a great career and having a lot of fun on the pro circuit," Capriati said. "I'm not
going to think about the pressure. I'm trying to blank it out. I am playing for myself."
Austin, almost 16 when she played and won her first professional tournament in Stuttgart, West Germany, said Capriati would have a tougher debut.

"There wasn't as much pressure on me as there is on Capriati because I had been playing and people knew who I was," said Austin, twice U.S. Open champion before injury forced her to quit.

"Everyone knows who Capriati is. She has all these contracts, and she hasn't played a match. That's pressure."
Capriati has her own clothing line and a racket contract, both set up by Evert's brother John.

Evert, whose father coached Capriati when she was younger, said she has spoken to Capriati on several occasions and believes she
can handle the pressure.

"She loves tennis, and that's the most important thing. For her it's not a business, it's a lot of fun and she is a great little player,"
Evert said.

Capriati said she would play no more than 12 tournaments this year, including Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, which she has
dreamed about entering since she first picked up a racket at age 5.

"I'm not expecting to win my first pro tournament, and I'm not expecting to lose in the first round. I just want to go out and play well
so I can get ready for Wimbledon and the U.S. Open," she said.

Capriati, still in junior high school, will be accompanied on the tennis circuit by a tutor and said she wants to have the option of going
to college.
Rollo is online now  
post #3 of 53 (permalink) Old Mar 13th, 2002, 06:38 PM Thread Starter
Moderator - BFTP
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Posts: 24,848
                     
Her first match as a pro---

Capriati's Coming Out Has Pros Looking In

By Sally Jenkins

It was a backhand. Jennifer Capriati, 13-year-old millionairess, Daddy's little treasure and the most awaited phenomenon in women's tennis, struck her first shot as a professional today. Then she went on to win her first-round match in the Virginia Slims of Florida and, just for the moment, fulfill her promise.

In what has been referred to here as the Virginia Slims of Capriati, the teenager from Wesley Chapel, Fla., defeated qualifier Mary
Lou Daniels of Chicago, 7-6 (7-1), 6-1, at the Polo Club. Thus Capriati joined that sorority of girls much like herself. They are named
Chrissie and Steffi and Gaby, and they hit their ground strokes as an assassin would draw a knife across your throat. Except that
Capriati is unprecedented, the youngest American girl to join the international circuit, and recipient of almost hysterical fanfare.

With endorsement contracts already totaling about $5 million, and the benediction of Chris Evert, to whom she is called heiress, the
anticipation and atmosphere for Capriati's debut was more befitting a circus. But she did not arrive by helicopter, nor was she shot to
center court from a cannon. She walked from the clubhouse with an armful of rackets, surrounded by a cordon of gawkers. Later,
before a battery of lights, a hush fell and, giggling, she spoke.

"I'm excited and I'm happy," she said. "But I think it's kind of out of control."

There was a restlessness about the occasion. Birds screamed, babies cried, planes droned and spectators milled about in their
Cozumel Yacht Club T-shirts. Capriati took the court just after 3:30-the perfect after-school special, some called it. "She has a great
future," said Ted Tinling, the international liaison for women's tennis, "if she doesn't fall in love with a ball boy."

Capriati led by 3-0 in each of her two sets against Daniels, a veteran ranked No. 110. She struggled just once in the match, when,
leading by 5-3 and serving at 30-all, she froze, dumbstruck by the moment. She lost 10 straight points (nine on unforced errors) and
three consecutive games to fall into a tiebreaker.

"I did get a little nervous," she said. "I shanked some of those balls. Maybe I stiffened up. I don't really know what happened."

But she won the tiebreaker easily, helped by four fluid winners from the baseline, and never looked back. She paused just once in closing out Daniels in the second set when she let two match points go by as Daniels served at 0-5. She then calmly held serve to complete her first professional victory.

At courtside was Capriati's family, father Stefano, mother Denise and 10-year-old brother Steven, accompanied by coach Tommy
Thompson. They experienced a tense moment or two when Capriati seized up in the first set, unable to strike a ball without mishitting it, before she collected herself.

"She completely froze," Thompson said. "You knew it had to hit her at some point. It was her first pro match and a big deal. But she got herself out of it. That's what you look for."

As overdone as today's match may have been, make no mistake about it, Capriati is wildly promising. If she suffered from the weight of expectations, she can be forgiven, because she has been called potentially the next great U.S. champion by no less than Evert, Martina Navratilova, Billie Jean King and Tracy Austin.

"Now I know a little bit of what it's like," Capriati said. "But not a lot."

Media came from places as far away as England and Australia to see her. She appeared on the "Today" show late last week and did
conference calls with an array of journalists. It is said that other players will not hit with her because they fear embarrassment and
her pace that dips over the net. But it is impossible to predict how Capriati will fare physically and mentally, as she is only an eighth
grader at Saddlebrook Tennis Academy, where she trains and goes to school. Navratilova said, "The answer will come when she
does it. Potentially, there's no telling how far she can go."

The swirl of attention has resulted from an irresistible convergence of facts and timing. She is American. She already is 5 feet 6
inches, 125 pounds of solid muscle who Daniels said hits the ball harder than any player on tour save for top-ranked Steffi Graf of
West Germany. She won the junior French and U.S. open titles last year, and the USTA Girls 18 hard court and clay titles at 12.

"Yeah, she's good," Daniels said. "And she'll be better. It was kind of mind-boggling what was happening here. But she deserves it."

She is also a wholesome-looking girl with reddened cheeks and a lustrous brown ponytail. She took lessons from Evert's father, Jimmy, at age 4. Evert's brother, John, is her agent at International Management Group.

Then there is all that money. Diadora, an Italian sportswear company, signed her to a shoe and clothing endorsement deal for $3 million, but could be closer to an estimated $5 million with incentive bonuses. The racket company Prince recently signed her to a contract worth an estimated $1 million. Those deals make her the third-richest commodity on tour behind only Graf and the Evert.

Only Graf turned pro at a younger age, just after turning 13. No American dared come out this early of all the darlings who have paraded across the courts-Stephanie Rehe, Kathy Rinaldi, Andrea Jaeger or Austin.

Partly in response to the disturbing injuries during Jaeger's and Austin's careers, the Women's International Tennis Association
decided in 1986 to bar girls under 14 from playing the pro tour. They are permitted to begin playing professionally in the same month
as their birthday. Capriati turns 14 on March 28.

Other more veteran professionals responded to Capriati's presence with frank amazement, curiosity and some apprehension. Pam
Shriver of Baltimore won her first-round match in straight and easy sets, and then said wryly, "I didn't want to hold up the main show."

Claudia Porwik, 21, of West Germany, becomes the next potential victim. Porwik had a measure of sympathy for the teenager, but
was puzzled by her and curious enough to watch her match against Daniels. "Everyone is watching her, talking about her immense
contracts and money," Porwik said. "I think that's a lot of pressure for a girl who's only 13 or 14."

Yet it appears Capriati was more than ready for this debut. As for others' expectations, she said, "I'm not going to think about them.
I'm not playing for them, I'm playing for me."
Rollo is online now  
 
post #4 of 53 (permalink) Old Mar 13th, 2002, 06:43 PM Thread Starter
Moderator - BFTP
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Posts: 24,848
                     
Capriati Shows Mettle in 3 set win
Washington Post, March 7 1990
Sally Jenkins

Jennifer Capriati skipped another grade today at the Virginia Slims of Florida. Capriati, unranked and 13 years old, passed a windy three-set test as she defeated No. 34 Claudia Porwik of West Germany to move into the round of 16 at the Polo Club. Then she won a doubles match with Billie Jean King.

Capriati, making her professional debut here and called potentially the next great U.S. tennis star, rallied for a 7-5, 0-6, 6-2 victory
over 15th-seeded Porwik. Shut out in the second set, she swung the match with a single shot in the third, an unforgettable two-fisted backhand winner off Porwik's overhead smash to break serve for a 4-2 lead.

"I think she hits the ball very, very hard," said Porwik, a relative matron at 21. "And I think that very soon she will be very good."

Capriati, a sturdy 5 feet 7 and 125 pounds, already has proven a great deal. On Tuesday she defeated No. 110 Mary Lou Daniels,7-6 (7-1), 6-1. Now she has done exactly what was predicted of her and can relax. Her next opponent will be eighth-seeded, 16th-ranked Nathalie Tauziat of France on Thursday and victory no longer is expected.

"I've learned it's different now," Capriati said. "I've learned that's how it's going to be, it's going to be tougher. I'm not really surprised. I
just came here to play as well as I can. . . . I'm happy to have won two matches already. I'll just keep playing."

Capriati's glamor in this tournament is enhanced by playing doubles with King, the 46-year-old tennis matriarch. Capriati and King
won their first-round match over Porwik and Laura Golarsa of Italy, 6-2, 6-4. King said it was only her second competitive match
since 1983. The two played an exhibition together at last year's Wightman Cup.

"I'm three and a half times her age," King announced, covering her face.

But Capriati's leggy power and King's still-nimble volleying made them an amusing pair. They high-fived and made secret
handshakes. Capriati told King in the locker room before the match she had to snap her fingers three times for good luck. "It's
hysterical," King said. "It's a lot of fun for me." On the court, King mugged, mocked her age and yelled at Capriati, "Go, go, go!" on
any ball she couldn't reach. She also conducted an on-court tutorial.

"I changed her positioning," King said. "I needed her to cover more of the court for me."

Capriati displayed some vulnerabilities in her singles match. She had trouble digging out Porwik's drop shots and slices, often
sending them deep or in the net. But she made up it for it with five aces, aggressive volleys and flowing groundstrokes.
Rollo is online now  
post #5 of 53 (permalink) Old Mar 13th, 2002, 06:47 PM Thread Starter
Moderator - BFTP
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Posts: 24,848
                     
Old Hat Just Like That, Capriati a Quarterfinalist

Forget everything that's been said about Jennifer Capriati. It's wrong. She isn't just promising, she's already here. Capriati, 13, made
the quarterfinals of the Virginia Slims of Florida tonight with a straight-set defeat of 16th-ranked Nathalie Tauziat of France, 6-4, 6-2.

Capriati, wielding ground strokes that drew gasps at the Polo Club, rallied from a 4-1 deficit in the first set to sweep the next seven games from Tauziat, seeded eighth, and never glanced back. The Frenchwoman could win just two games of the remaining 13.

"I'm surprised a little bit, but I'm really excited," Capriati said. "I thought I had a chance and I was confident and I just came here to do my best."

Capriati, of Saddlebrook, Fla., already had defeated the No. 110 player, Mary Lou Daniels of Chicago, and the No. 34, 15th-seeded Claudia Porwik of West Germany, in making her professional debut. While an upset of Tauziat was conceivable, such a rout was far from expected. But with each match victory, Capriati, a well-muscled, 5-foot-6 125-pounder who Chris Evert predicts will make the
top 10 this year, has been increasingly relaxed, her strokes lengthening and gaining in power.

"After I lose the first set, she was really confident and played like she was on the moon," Tauziat said.

Capriati's quarterfinal opponent is Helena Sukova of Czechoslovakia, ranked 10th. Sukova advanced with a struggling, three-set victory over Halle Cioffi of Knoxville, Tenn., 6-4, 4-6, 6-1.

One of the real pleasures of this tournament ended when Capriati suffered her first professional loss, in doubles with 46-year-old Billie Jean King. She and King, a talkative, entertaining pair, were defeated by Andrea Temesvari of Hungary and Brenda Schultz of the Netherlands, 6-3, 6-2.

Capriati's singles match was the event of an active day. Seventh-seeded Pam Shriver of Baltimore fractured her left big toe when she
became upset and kicked a chair in the first set of her third-round loss to Dinky Van Rensburg of South Africa, 7-5, 6-1.

The door to the final opened wider for Capriati when her projected semifinal opponent second-seeded Monica Seles of Yugoslavia,
was upset by Laura Gildemeister of Peru, 6-1, 7-5. Seles, the 16-year-old who shot to No. 6 last year as a tour rookie, has started her sophomore season slowly. She has won just two matches in her first three tournaments.

"I'm a little concerned," Seles said, "but not really. I just have to work to figure out what's wrong."

Shriver, playing on an outer court plagued by swirling wind and milling crowds, was angered by a line call as she served at 5-6 in the
first set. Her volley was ruled out for 15-30 and Van Rensburg went on to break and take control of the match.

"I was in a foul mood," Shriver said. "I saw this empty chair and I gave it a kick. I didn't think I kicked it that hard."

Shriver will need three to six weeks to recover, but said she had planned to take most of the next two months off anyway. "It came
at a good time, if it had to happen," she said. "Next time I hope I'll take my frustration out in a different way."

Pammy sure did let her temper get away from her that day! Wonder if she's kicked any chairs since!
Rollo is online now  
post #6 of 53 (permalink) Old Mar 13th, 2002, 06:51 PM Thread Starter
Moderator - BFTP
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Posts: 24,848
                     
Her first win over a top tenner

TENNIS;4-0 and Putting on a Show, Capriati Rips Sukova to Gain Semifinals

The Washington Post Mar 10, 1990; Sally Jenkins;

Jennifer Capriati has gone from promising to impressive to inspired in the Virginia Slims of Florida. Today the 13-year-old defeated 10th-ranked Helena Sukova, 6-1, 6-4, to make the semifinals of her first professional tournament.

Capriati, a 5-foot-6 monster child from Saddlebrook, Fla., won the first set in blinding fashion and recovered from a service break in
the second, which was interrupted by a 30-minute rain delay. They left the Polo Club court on serve with Capriati trailing, 4-3. When they returned, Capriati swept three games and 12 of the last 15 points, including eight straight.

"I'm just really excited to be in the semifinals," she said. "I didn't come here expecting it. I just came to do my best. It's been a lot of fun."

Capriati's debut now ranks among the most impressive ever, perhaps behind only Chris Evert's, Tracy Austin's and Kathy Horvath's,
the three winning their first pro tournaments. And the teenager appears to have an open door to the final.

Her semifinal opponent is Laura Gildemeister, the 10th seed who is ranked 19th. Gildemeister made the semifinals with two upsets in two days, over second-seeded Monica Seles Thursday and No. 5 Jana Novotna this afternoon, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.Gildemeister and Capriati have met once before, in an exhibition won by Capriati in straight sets.

"I got really excited when I thought about that, because I have a chance to be in there," she said.

In Saturday's other semifinal, top-seeded and third-ranked Gabriela Sabatini meets third-seeded and eighth-ranked Mary Joe Fernandez.

On her way to the semifinals, Capriati has left a trail of established professionals: No. 110 Mary Lou Daniels was the first to fall, followed by No. 34 Claudia Porwik and No. 16 Nathalie Tauziat. But this was something entirely different.

Sukova, 25, is not just 10th in the world, she is major championship caliber. She has been a U.S. Open finalist, twice an Australian Open finalist and ranked as high as No. 4. This year she has taken sets from Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova. Moreover, she is 6feet 2 with a serve like a spear.

"I knew she could hit hard and places the ball well," Sukova said. "But I didn't expect her to be able to do it the whole match."

Capriati won the first set in a grand total of 19 minutes. She served notice with a resounding ace on the first point of the match and
went on to hold at love.

"When I hit that I got more confidence, and I thought, `I'm going to play well this match,' " she said. "I just got more confident and
played better and better."

Any hope Sukova had of rescuing herself was lost in the fourth game, when Capriati broke for a 4-0 lead on a shot that may have
been her most memorable of the tournament. Sukova stabbed a forehand volley at an angle, but Capriati was already running. She
launched herself into a forehand pass down the line that sounded like breaking glass. It cleared the tape by a mere fraction and
landed so hard it almost didn't bounce.

Sukova's only game was the fifth, when she delivered four magnificent aces. But Capriati replied in what has become typical fashion,
as she held serve at love to slam the set shut. She swept a forehand winner cross court for set point, and then kicked a service
winner to Sukova's backhand in the net.

Sukova is a notoriously slow starter, and she raised her game to an altogether different level in the second.

"I found my rhythm in the second set. I felt I was coming back in the match," Sukova said. "Then the rain delay came and I couldn't
keep up the pressure. She was still coming up with good shots."
Rollo is online now  
post #7 of 53 (permalink) Old Mar 13th, 2002, 06:54 PM Thread Starter
Moderator - BFTP
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Posts: 24,848
                     
Into Final, Capriati's at No Loss as Pro

The Washington Post Washington, D.C.; Mar 11, 1990; Sally Jenkins;

Jennifer Capriati can't get any more for real than this. The 13-year-old eighth-grader today reached the final of the Virginia Slims of Florida to justify every wild promise made on her behalf, and thus could become the youngest player to win a pro tournament in the open era.

Capriati, a 5-foot-6, 125-pound revelation from Saddlebrook, Fla., defeated Laura Gildemeister of Peru in the semifinals at the Polo Club, 7-6 (9-7), 7-6 (7-4). She is 5-0 and has eliminated four seeded players in her professional debut, while dropping just one set.

Capriati will meet top-seeded and No. 3-ranked Gabriela Sabatini in Sunday's final, when she could make history. She already is the youngest finalist, surpassing Andrea Jaeger's feat at 15 years 2 months at the U.S. Clay Courtchampionships in Indianapolis in 1980. The youngest player to win a tournament is Jaeger, who prevailed in Tampa in 1980 at 15 and 4 months. Capriati is 13 and 11
months.

Only three players, Austin, Chris Evert and Kathy Horvath, have won their first pro tournaments.

"I really can't believe I'm in the finals," Capriati said. "I mean, this is a dream come true for me."

Capriati has demonstrated a different quality in each of her matches. Today she showed pure stubbornness as she somehow overcame a 4-2 deficit in each set against Gildemeister, ranked No. 21. Her normally deathly strokes were scattered and dull, but she killed three set points in the first-set tiebreaker before she finally won it, then gradually wrested the remainder of the match.

"She plays very well when she's down,"Gildemeister said. "She's down all the time, and she just keeps fighting. Some people just give up."

Sabatini reached the final when Mary Joe Fernandez pulled her left hamstring with the score 4-4 in the first set. The Argentine's
heavy topspin against Capriati's bruising ground strokes should be an intriguing match, and Gildemeister said of the Floridian, "I
think she has a good chance."

Capriati's debut has been widely awaited since December, when she signed a $3 million endorsement contract with Diadora, an Italian clothing and shoe company. With her performance she has lived up to predictions such as one made by Evert, who has said she could be a top 10 player in her first year.

On Friday Capriati accomplished a breathtaking upset of 10th-ranked Helena Sukova, 6-1, 6-4, to reach the semifinals. She also beat No. 16 Nathalie Tauziat, No. 34 Claudia Porwik, and No. 110 Mary Lou Daniels.

Gildemeister came into today's match playing some of the best tennis of her career. One of only three working mothers on the tour,she has achieved a career-high ranking since taking a sabbatical to have a child two years ago.

Gildemeister has a poisonous forehand that is among the best in the women's game, but her backhand was unstable and ultimately betrayed her, as Capriati cannily hacked away at it. All three set points in the first set got away on the backhand side.

Four unforced errors by Capriati allowed Gildemeister to seize double set point in the tiebreaker, 6-4. But Capriati drove a big
backhand down the line that Gildemeister pushed into the net. The second set point was more a matter of a line call, Gildemeister's
angled backhand volley called wide in the alley, arousing her fury. "A terrible call," she said.

Capriati finally gained a set point with a memorable forehand winner, a running retrieve pass of Gildemeister's drop shot for an 8-7
lead. She then clinched it with a high-kicking service winner.

"I was just thinking, `Come on,' " Capriati said. "I really didn't want to lose that set."

In the second set, Capriati yielded another service break with three unforced errors for another 4-2 deficit. But she broke back with
emphasis, doing so at love.

In the tiebreaker Capriati gained triple match point with a high forehand crush that came off her ear. A shaky backhand into the net
was only a momentary interruption. She closed out the match when she kicked a serve high to Gildemeister's backhand, drawing a
floater deep.

Afterward, Capriati couldn't explain where she got her talent for a comeback. "I think it's something I was born with, or its natural,"
she said. "Always when I've been down, I've come back like that."
Rollo is online now  
post #8 of 53 (permalink) Old Mar 13th, 2002, 07:00 PM Thread Starter
Moderator - BFTP
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Posts: 24,848
                     
Defeat but No Agony, Capriati Runner-Up to Sabatini
The Washington Post Mar 12, 1990; Sally Jenkins;


Tennis will remain a woman's game for the moment, not a schoolgirl's.

Jennifer Capriati was too young, too small and too tired to upend the tennis world today, the 13-year-old being defeated in the final of
the Virginia Slims of Florida by that veteran of nearly 20, Gabriela Sabatini.

Sabatini a few seasons ago was an apparition very much like Capriati. So it was fitting the Argentine, grown into a wide-shouldered
topspin artist ranked No. 3, should meet Capriati, an eighth-grader who stunned the tennis world by becoming the youngest known finalist yet, in her pro debut. The match was a matter of Sabatini's muscular resourcefulness against the desperate lunging of Capriati, of groans and squeals and points fought to the brink of exhaustion before Sabatini won, 6-4, 7-5, on a hard court at the Polo Club.

"I learned a lot," Capriati said. "I learned that it's going to be fun. If this is what it's going to be like, I'm going to enjoy it."

Their match was laughingly called "The Gabe vs. the Babe," and it was perhaps a harbinger that Sabatini had such difficulty against this adorable child who already has endorsement contracts worth $5 million and is a protege of Chris Evert.

She wears a gold bracelet given to her by Evert, was coached at age 4 by Jimmy Evert, whose daughter called Capriati Saturday from her home in Aspen, Colo., to say how "proud" she was and offer a tutorial in strategy. "Be patient, bring her to the net and move her around," Evert told her.

Capriati struggled back from service breaks down in both sets, and actually led in the second by 4-2. But, heavy limbed and winded,she could not hold out against the relentless, punishing strokes of Sabatini, who broke right back in the decisive game of the match. They played a series of spectacular points, side to side, up and back, before Sabatini broke with some acrobatic volleying, Capriati hurling herself to the corners of the court but unable to pass her.

Sabatini collected a first prize of $70,000 with obvious relief at avoiding a mortifying loss. "It was a lot of pressure for me today," she
said. "I just wanted to get out of this match."

Match point was illustrative of Capriati's failing strength. Sabatini hit a weighty forehand to the corner, which Capriati could only loft
back with a high backhand that the Argentine slammed away with a forehand at the net. Capriati smiled, loped to the box seats for an embrace from her parents and cheerfully accepted her first paycheck, $28,000.

"It's been the greatest week of my life," she said. "It was exciting just to make the finals. . . . I was tired at the end."

Capriati is believed to be the youngest player to make a final on the major pro circuit in the open era, surpassing the feat of Sabatini at Hilton Head in 1985 at 14 years 11 months. The youngest player to win a tournament is Andrea Jaeger, at a Tampa event in 1980, at 15 years 4 months. The open era dates to 1968, when tournaments became open to professionals and prize money was offered.
Only three players have won their pro debuts, Evert, Tracy Austin and Kathy Horvath.

Capriati's coming out has to rank among the most impressive. To reach the final she upset a series of highly ranked players: No.110 Mary Lou Daniels, No. 34 Claudia Porwik, No. 16 Nathalie Tauziat, No. 10 Helena Sukova and No. 21 Laura Gildemeister. She had lost just one set before today.

Her reward is that she will take two days off, do the homework that has been sent to her by FAX machine, and go to a mall. "We'll go shopping to this nice place I know," she said. She will take Monday off from school. Next week she will make her second tournament appearance, at the Lipton International in Key Biscayne, Fla.

Capriati will play only a limited number of tournaments, eight to 10, including the Italian Open and the remaining Grand Slam events
(French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open). She cannot assume a ranking until she has played three events, but is projected at about No. 83 based on her performance here.

It is impossible to guess how Capriati will develop, but at the moment she is a revelation with slugging ground strokes and signs of
good volleying. While she has inevitably been compared to Evert with her two-handed backhand, she is stronger and more aggressive at 5 feet 6 and 125 pounds. Evert has said she could be in the top 10 by year's end, and Sabatini concurred.

"She could be there, sure," Sabatini said. "I'm sure she'll be in the top very soon. She already has good tennis, she needs to work more on the net and do more things. But she will be there."

Capriati's vulnerabilities are the predictable ones for her age: She is not particularly quick; she became impatient or overanxious on
crucial points, overswinging for 38 unforced errors to 26 winners; and she occasionally was hesitant, unsure when to attack and
when to retreat. Sabatini played her intelligently, swinging her back and forth across the court and wearing her down with laborious
topspin. Capriati would retrieve a series of miraculous shots, but then Sabatini would hit one more unreachable ball.

"She has all that heavy topspin and she kept the rallies going," Capriati said. "It was a lot of long points and it was tiring."

Despite the loss, Capriati could leave secure in the knowledge that she has not only vaulted into the upper professional echelons,
but also has become a great star.

She is a pretty, unpretentious girl with a constant smile, who afterward refused to speculate on her future and the label she has acquired as potentially the next American champion. "I don't know. I'm not going to say," she said. "I don't know if I'm the next champion."

All she knows is, "Personally, I'm still going to be normal."
Rollo is online now  
post #9 of 53 (permalink) Old Mar 13th, 2002, 07:02 PM Thread Starter
Moderator - BFTP
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Posts: 24,848
                     
and so ended the "Virginia Slims of Jen", as one wag termed it. Already we can notice how close the relationship to the Everts was. Do you think she REALLY stuck to a sensible schedule in 1990? Stay tuned. Next up-the Lipton, also in her state of Florida.
Rollo is online now  
post #10 of 53 (permalink) Old Mar 13th, 2002, 07:10 PM Thread Starter
Moderator - BFTP
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Posts: 24,848
                     
Prophetic words form Bilie Jean King-an assessment of her first event as a pro--


Thirteen With a Racket That's Mean; The Smashing Pro Debut of Jennifer Capriati

The Washington Post Mar 17, 1990; Sally Jenkins;


Somewhere in this terrifying crush of attention and demand, Jennifer Capriati is happily oblivious, a 13-year-old made of a lustrous
brown ponytail, slightly knock-kneed legs and a lopsided smile. She is this season's version of "The Girl," a beguiling child and your
basic Teenage Ninja tennis nightmare.

She chases a ball with the affectionate joy of a Labrador retriever that has not quite grown into its limbs, awkward but with imminent athletic possibility. She is unbothered. She squeals at bugs and boys, which are all the same to her-slightly distasteful if curious creatures that you mash beneath your sneaker.

Her unprecedented youth (she'll be 14 on March 29) and talent are already worth at the very least $5 million, though she scarcely knows it ("Doesn't it go in a trust fund or something?" she said). At first she was a quaint apparition, the youngest U.S. girl to turn professional, and a photo opportunity. But when Capriati last week justified her wild promise by reaching the finals of her first pro tournament, the Virginia Slims of Florida, the word of mouth of her coming grew into hysteria. Then, playing a similar field at the
International Players Championships at Key Biscayne, Fla., yesterday, she won her first-round match over Luanne Spadea. Corporations covet her, autograph seekers swarm over her, cameras are thrust inches from her face.

"Everyone wants a piece of her," Billie Jean King said. "They all want to claim her. It's scary."

Already, legends have sprung up about her. About the gold bracelet she never takes off that says "Love, Chrissie," from mentor Chris Evert, who was so besieged she had to release a statement. About how no one wants to practice with her because she hits too hard and too fast. About how she supposedly could do sit-ups when she was 6 months old. And how when Capriati was 4, her father,
Stefano, took her to see Evert's father, Jimmy. After a session with this girl who was scarcely bigger than a racket, Jimmy Evert returned home and told Chris he had just seen the most talented child "since you."

Amid this frenzy, Capriati lopes cheerfully around the court, bobs her head and grins almost sideways, until her mouth is parallel with her barrettes. By day she plays matches with pure, flowing strokes. By night she does the homework that is sent to her by fax machine, then faxes it back to a private tennis academy in Saddlebrook, Fla.-English, history, science, math, Spanish. Her bedtime is 9:30 p.m. So far she hasn't missed it. She wins fast.

"I think I'm just a kid and I just have this talent, and I don't know why everyone is going just crazy over this," she said.

That is answered by Capriati's mother, Denise, who has given her daughter over to the world with a heart-rending expression made of inexpressible love, yet also a kind of sympathy.

"There's this greatness in her," she said.

The Endorsements

Capriati's stunning debut allowed some corporate executives to remove their hands from their loudly beating hearts. In December,
long before Capriati had ever struck a ball as a pro, the Italian clothing and shoe company Diadora signed her to an endorsement contract worth $3 million over five years, with performance incentives that could give her closer to $5 million. Shortly afterward, the Prince racket company signed her to a $1 million contract.

At a tennis trade show in Atlanta two weeks ago, it got around that Capriati would make a brief appearance at the Diadora booth to sign posters. Though she had never hit a ball as a pro, crowds lined up 30 minutes in advance to see the prodigy. The crowds were larger than those for Bjorn Borg, the Swedish former champion, at the same trade show last year.

Capriati is the first female the company has signed, and is viewed as an entree into the North American market. She was initially regarded as more of an investment for the future. The firm would have been content if she had won even two matches in Florida. Instead what it acquired was an explosion.

"I've never experienced anything like this," said Diadora America advertising manager Anne McIntosh. "I think it has snowballed, partly because of the amount of the contract. And she's just got a lot of charisma. She was thanking people for asking her for her autograph."

Capriati possesses three invaluable qualities: She is American, she is pretty and she has great timing, a natural successor to theretired Evert as the game's darling. "I wouldn't be surprised if she ends up in the top 10 this year," Evert said from her home in Aspen, Colo., while allowing Capriati the use of her second home in Boca Raton last week for her coming out. Capriati has been
regularly beating boys and 18-year-old women since she was 12, winning the prestigious French Open and U.S. Open junior titles last year over players five and six years her senior, and with affable expectancy.

"I like to whip the boys," she said. "They say, `Man, no 13-year-old girl is going to beat me.' That drives me crazy. If it's a boy and I
beat them, it feels good."

Those impeccable credentials and a year of anticipatory buildup to her pro debut made her an endorsement bonanza. The Diadora and Prince agreements ended what her agent, Evert's younger brother John of International Management Group, called "a bidding war." Several companies were involved, among them Adidas, Ellesse, Nike, Wilson Sporting Goods and Yonex.

"They are all looking for something," he said. "The next great American, the next Chris. Jenny answers those questions."

`The Girl'

There have been several versions of "The Girl," from Andrea Jaeger to Tracy Austin to Evert herself. They are younger than any before them, and more splendidly talented, and frequently they pass like summer rain.

"Let's face it, she's an exception," King said. "This is an exceptional child."

Capriati's entree poses once again the dilemma of exposing children to the stresses and fears of competition. It has become an almost cliched question on the women's tour. "Who was that girl who was The Girl a few years ago?" the saying goes around tour. In 1986 the Women's International Tennis Association barred girls under 14 from playing the circuit, partly in response to injury
proneness shown by former child stars Austin and Jaeger, now retired with broken-down bodies.

The Capriatis, Stefano an Italian immigrant and former real estate businessman turned supervisor of his daughter's career, and Denise, a Pan Am flight attendant, would have preferred that her first tournament was less of a circus. Stefano had petitioned the WITA last year for permission to enter her in a couple of pro tournaments and allow her some quiet experience, but was denied.

"We didn't throw her into anything," Denise Capriati said. "She wants this. It was her choice. As long as I see her having fun . . . I
mean, she does. She smiles, she glows. It's real."

Everyone from John Evert to the Capriatis to King agrees that the teenager should be permitted to play professionally only so long as it does not tax her unduly, physically or otherwise. Diadora, which is also represented by Borg and Boris Becker of West Germany, apparently has cooperated in not pressing for early victories.

"We're in it for the long term," McIntosh said. "Two {winning} matches would have been great, three too much to hope for." So her relaxed, frolicsome performance on and off the court was a major relief, the potential for embarrassment tremendous in light of her
contracts and publicity.

"You make all these decisions according to how far along you think she is," said her coach, Tom Thompson. "But what if you're wrong?"

The Capriatis have prepared meticulously for this season, both to make sure she was ready, and in hopes of preserving some vestige of normalcy. A year ago she underwent a thorough physical exam by training specialists who pointed out areas where herbody was weakest and needed improvement. She has a series of preventive calisthenics.

She lives and trains at Harry Hopman's Saddlebrook Academy, which is secluded enough that she and her family can avoid some of the gawking. She was attending public school but switched to the Palmer School, affiliated with the academy, when she decided to turn pro. She goes to school from 7 to 11 a.m. and again from 6:45 to 8:45 p.m.

The Capriatis also have sought advice from sources like the circuitwise Everts and King, who have become informal advisers. Stefano requested King be brought in to work with Capriati as part of the USTA junior training program, determined to give her an all-court game as opposed to the limited baseline game so many of the short-lived young stars bring to the tour. King, who has helped 33-year-old Martina Navratilova in recovering from burnout, sat Capriati down and asked her why she played tennis.

"Because it's fun," she said.

It was the right answer. King observed, "She wants it, she wants to see how well she can do. That attitude is great. It's when it gets
overwhelming, the `Oh God, am I letting my parents down? Am I letting the tennis world down?' I'm sure those questions are there.
She's got to play because it's fun."

Capriati would not appear to be a pressured child. She is an indefatigable clotheshorse whose favorite thing is "shopping." Her
favorite actor is Tom Cruise, her second favorite actor is Tom Cruise. She is a straight-A student who comported herself maturely
before the world's press corps, including newspapers from England and Australia that came for her debut. When she is not in school
or on the court she spends hours in front of the mirror with the radio blasting, practicing dance steps.

"I'm doing things other kids are doing, just not as much," she said. "Tennis is just first for me. I'm learning to make sacrifices.
Except they aren't really sacrifices. I don't mind doing it, because I'm playing tennis."

Clearly, it was Jennifer Capriati's decision to turn pro, bored with her race through the junior ranks. She begged to, plainly ambitious,
if disarmingly so. "When you're in the pros, and you win Wimbledon, everyone knows," she said simply. "It's written down on a
plaque."

Even so, it is impossible to predict how Capriati will fare in the long term. She is comfortingly sturdy at 5-foot-6 and 125 pounds of
muscle.

"She really looks more like 17," said Pam Shriver, who turned pro at 16. "Some 14-year-olds you wouldn't want to send on a mile
run. There have been a lot of players of her body type in the top five in the world."

She also appears to have the right mental makeup for the game, an imperviousness in competition with no choke or brat in her.
Asked what she is most afraid of in her first year on tour, she shot back, "I don't have fear. Not any." She plays with thoughtless
exigence, throwing it up and hitting it before the ball boys have run back to their places.

"She doesn't think, she plays," said 16th-ranked Nathalie Tauziat of France, one of her victims last week. "In a year we will see."

The ultimate authority on longevity is Evert, 35, who played the U.S. Open in 1971 at 16, and retired at last year's Open after 18
years as a pro, uninjured and still No. 4 in the world. "Her parents really understand the ropes of being on the tour, and they have a
normal life and keep it fun for her," Evert said. " . . . If anyone can handle the media attention, it's Jennifer. She's very oblivious to the
stress and tensions of the game."

Comparisons are irresistible, yet also irrelevant and invalid. "I love Chris and she's my friend but I don't want to be compared with
anyone," Capriati said. "I don't want to be the next Chris Evert, I want to be the next Jennifer Capriati."

Even if she wished it, Capriati is not likely to be compared with Evert much longer. Evert was a product of the baseline era and
wooden rackets, and only developed herself physically in her 20s. Capriati is a creation of the era of force, in which every kid has a
whiplash forehand and rackets are built like race cars.

Racket technology allows a child to be competitive at a much earlier age by giving him or her a game like a backboard, turning
opponents' pace against them. It has produced other startling apparitions like 17-year-old Michael Chang, who won the French Open
last summer, and Monica Seles, the 16-year-old who hits two-fisted on both sides and was a French Open semifinalist last year at
15. So Capriati may be merely the latest and most talented of an inevitably encroaching set of youngsters.

These children have growing entourages of coaches, agents and hitting partners accompanying them, in contrast to Evert or Austin's
early years when they were accompanied only by their mothers.

But it seems that even with better training and new knowledge about how to preserve a young player's health, disturbing injuries and
problems adjusting crop up. Chang has since suffered a hip fracture that is mysteriously slow to heal. Seles has won just two of her
first five matches this year, and is struggling to get used to the rapid changes in her physique.

More difficult to ascertain is the effect on them of becoming world travelers and public figures at an age when everyone else is at the mall or in high school as opposed to a specialized academy. There is the sense that it could create idiot savants, versed in the courts of the world but little else.

As Shriver observed, "Tennis matures you a lot in some ways, but in other ways it doesn't at all."

There is the also the real possibility that Capriati could simply lose interest in tennis. Steffi Graf of West Germany is now 20 and to
date is the youngest international player ever to turn pro, at 13. She won a Grand Slam (the Australian and French Opens,Wimbledon and the U.S. Opens) at 19, and has said she probably will not play beyond 25. That is merely something else
impossible to predict.

"And it's stupid to try," said Ted Tinling, the international liaison for women's tennis and a historian of the game. "She has all the
ingredients, she can have a great future. If she doesn't fall in love with a ball boy."

But for the moment Capriati genuinely burns to play tennis, hitting the ball with the desperate, creative enjoyment of a soldier on furlough. There is something in her that reminds observers of the possessed way Graf plays, and also the way Evert once did. As Evert remarked at the U.S. Open shortly before she retired, "I think it was a need. I needed it."

So Capriati plays, with her tilted, needy smile, while everyone watches and waits. "You have to listen to the laughter," King said.
"What kind is it? Is it nervous, is it happy? You have to listen to it closely."
Rollo is online now  
post #11 of 53 (permalink) Old Mar 13th, 2002, 07:13 PM Thread Starter
Moderator - BFTP
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Posts: 24,848
                     
The "goddess" quote id funny, considering jen said much the same thing about Venus last year at this event

Capriati Wins Opener in Straight Sets
The Washington Post Mar 17, 1990;


Jennifer Capriati, the 13-year-old who finished second in her first professional tennis tournament last week, scored a straight-setvictory in the opening round of the International Players Championships yesterday in Key Biscayne, Fla.

Capriati was a 7-5, 6-3 winner over fellow Floridian Luanne Spadea, 17.

Winners in men's singles on the opening day of the $2.5 million tournament included Jakob Hlasek and Amos Mansdorf. Seededplayers received first-round byes and will begin competition today in the 10-day event, which has attracted 17 of the top 20 men and 11 of the top 20 women.

Capriati was the center of attention for reporters and photographers. Having lost just three sets in her seven professional matches, she needed only 79 minutes to beat Spadea.

Capriati and Spadea are both from the Fort Lauderdale area, but they had not played each other before and had practiced together
only once.

"She's an extraordinary player," Spadea said. "But there are a lot of other girls out there who have as much potential as she does . .
. . The media has been hyping her up like she's a goddess. She's a human being, just like we are."
Rollo is online now  
post #12 of 53 (permalink) Old Mar 13th, 2002, 07:17 PM Thread Starter
Moderator - BFTP
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Posts: 24,848
                     
Helena must have had NIGHTMARES about Jen

Capriati Shows No. 10 Sukova Instant Replay
The Washington Post Mar 18, 1990;


KEY BISCAYNE, Fla., March 17

Jennifer Capriati won for the seventh time in eight professional matches today, the 13-year-old again mowing down 10th-ranked Helena Sukova, this time by 6-3, 6-2, in 51 minutes in the second round of the International Players Championships.

"Now I know it wasn't lucky the first time, you know?" said Capriati, a straight-set winner over Sukova last week in her first pro event.
"And that the second time I can play as well and beat her again."

Capriati committed just 11 unforced errors, while the Czechoslovak struggled with her serve and ground strokes. "I just started to play so bad; I don't know why," Sukova said. "I felt I almost gave it to her."

Capriati, who next faces Patty Fendick, said, "She did give me some free points, but I thought I pressed her a lot by being
aggressive."
Rollo is online now  
post #13 of 53 (permalink) Old Mar 13th, 2002, 07:19 PM Thread Starter
Moderator - BFTP
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Posts: 24,848
                     
Capriati Gains Fourth Round Via Default
Washington, D.C.; Mar 19, 1990;


KEY BISCAYNE, Fla., March 18

Jennifer Capriati won her third-round match today at the International Players Championships when Patty Fendick had to default after
suffering a knee injury while leading, 4-2, in the first set.

Fendick, seeded 31st and ranked 48th, said her right knee locked as she hit a backhand approach shot. She stumbled while retreating for Capriati's lob, then collapsed at the baseline.

A tournament doctor said the extent of the injury wouldn't be determined for about 24 hours.

Fendick saved three break points in the first game, closing it out with an ace, then broke Capriati's serve at love and held for a 3-0
advantage.

They stayed on serve into the seventh game. The injury occurred after Capriati had won the first two points.

"I'm really sorry," said 13-year-old Capriati, 8-1 since turning pro last week. "I never want to win like that. I feel sorry for her because she was playing so well. It was tough for me in the beginning, and I was just beginning to pick it up when she fell."
Rollo is online now  
post #14 of 53 (permalink) Old Mar 13th, 2002, 07:21 PM Thread Starter
Moderator - BFTP
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Posts: 24,848
                     
Capriati, 13, Suffers First Upset of Her Young Career
The Los Angeles Times Mar 19, 1990;

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla.




Jennifer Capriati suffered the first upset of her young career today, falling to qualifier Nathalie Herreman of France 6-2, 6-4 in the fourth round of the International Players Championships.

By winning, the left-handed Herreman, ranked No. 113, reached the quarterfinals of a tournament for the first time since 1987.

The 13-year-old Capriati fell to 8-2 since starting her professional tennis career this month. Her only other loss was to third-ranked
Gabriela Sabatini in the finals of the Virginia Slims of Florida.

"I made a lot of errors and she played well," Capriati said. "I think it was a good tournament for me, I beat (sixth-seeded Helena)Sukova and made the fourth round, and I think that's pretty good."

Herreman said she took the match in stride.

"I didn't feel the pressure at all today. I was pretty cool," Herreman said. "I think there was more pressure on her than on me. Everybody wants her to win. It's difficult. You can't win every game."

Although unheralded, Herreman had been playing well, losing just nine games in her previous three matches.

Herreman's strategy was to keep the ball in play until Capriati made a mistake. The plan worked, as the teen committed 53 unforced
errors to 33 for her opponent.

Capriati also fell behind in her third-round match Sunday. But she won by default when Patty Fendick suffered a knee injury while
leading 4-2 in the first set.
Rollo is online now  
post #15 of 53 (permalink) Old Mar 13th, 2002, 07:28 PM Thread Starter
Moderator - BFTP
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Posts: 24,848
                     
On to event #3 the Family Circle Cup, where organizers hope and pray Jen will make it an ingenue vs. old vet final with Navratilova


She beats Angeliki Kanelloupoulou of Greece 6-1 6-3 in the first round.

Capriati Routs Sanchez Vicario
Washington, D.C.; Apr 6, 1990;

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C., April 5


Jennifer Capriati played perhaps her finest match today, pounding French Open champion Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, 6-1, 6-1, in 45 minutes to reach the quarterfinals of the Family Circle Magazine Cup.

Capriati, now 14, was both precise and powerful in beating fifth-ranked Sanchez Vicario on clay.

"I thought this was one of the best matches that I've played," said Capriati, in her third event as a pro. "I mean, it wasn't so easy. . . . I think I just didn't give her a chance to come back into the match."

Capriati lost just eight points on her serve.

"She played pretty well, and I had a very bad day," Sanchez Vicario said.

Asked about their next meeting, she said, "It isn't going to happen the same as today-for sure."
Rollo is online now  
Reply

Quick Reply
Message:
Options

Register Now



In order to be able to post messages on the TennisForum.com forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.

Password:


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:
OR

Log-in










Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page



Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

 
For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome