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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old Apr 19th, 2002, 01:27 PM Thread Starter
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1996:Back on Tour

Jen returned to the tennis world in 1996-and struggled to regain form.

Year won-lost 16-11. Played 9 tour events.

Essen, Germany
February 19, 1996
Surface: Indoor Carpet

R32 Kristie Boogert (NED) 6-1 6-2
R16 Barbara Schett (AUT) 7-6 6-1
QF LOST TO Jana Novotna (CZE) 6-7 6-2 3-6

Indian Wells, California, USA
March 04, 1996
Surface: Hardcourt

R64 Rita Grande (ITA) 6-4 6-1
R32 Shi-Ting Wang (TPE) 6-0 6-0
R16 LOST TO Chanda Rubin (USA) 3-6 3-6

Key Biscayne, Florida, USA
March 18, 1996
Surface: Hardcourt

R128 Lea Ghirardi (FRA) 7-5 6-1
R64 Elena Likhovtseva (RUS) 7-6 6-4
R32 Amanda Coetzer (RSA) 6-4 0-6 6-1
R16 LOST TO Gabriela Sabatini (ARG) 1-6 4-6

Fed Cup (WG-QF) AUT vs. USA in Austria
April 27, 1996
Surface: Clay

LOST TO Barbara Paulus (AUT) 2-6 4-6
LOST TO Judith Wiesner (AUT) 1-6 1-6

Roland Garros at Paris, France
May 27, 1996
Surface: Clay

R128 LOST TO Jing-Qian Yi (CHN) 3-6 5-7

Montreal, Canada
August 05, 1996
Surface: Hardcourt

R64 Irina Spirlea (ROM) 6-4 6-2
R32 Lori McNeil (USA) 7-6 7-5
R16 LOST TO Magdalena Maleeva (BUL) L 2-6 2-3 ret

U.S. Open at Flushing Meadows, New York, USA
August 26, 1996
Surface: Hardcourt

R128 LOST TO Annabel Ellwood (AUS) 4-6 4-6

Filderstadt, Germany
October 07, 1996
Surface: Indoor Hardcourt
R32 Natasha Zvereva (BLR) 7-6(8) 6-3
R16 LOST TO Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario (ESP) 4-6 4-6

Zurich, Switzerland
October 14, 1996
Surface: Indoor Hardcourt

R32 Gabriela Sabatini (ARG) 6-3 6-4
R16 Katerina Maleeva (BUL) 6-3 6-3
QF LOST TO Jana Novotna (CZE) 4-6 2-6

Chicago, Iliinois, USA
October 28, 1996
Surface: Indoor Carpet

R32 Lisa Raymond (USA) 7-5 7-6(1)
R16 Magdalena Maleeva (BUL) 6-3 5-7 6-1
QF Meredith McGrath (USA) 5-2 ret
SF Monica Seles (USA) 6-3 6-3
F LOST TO Jana Novotna (CZE) 4-6 6-3 1-6
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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old Apr 19th, 2002, 01:29 PM Thread Starter
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Still Caught in a . . .; Whirlwind; Jennifer Capriati, Once Happy at 13, Now Sullen at 19 With Tennis Career on Hold
The Los Angeles Times Jan 19, 1996; JULIE CART;

It is an inescapable adjective when discussing the intriguing and confounding career of tennis player--or is it former tennis player?--Jennifer Capriati. The word is dysfunctional, and it applies to Capriati, her family, her business handlers, the leaders of her sport and, finally, a life that metamorphosed from fairy tale to horror story.

Long before her dream spun out into drugs and despair, Capriati was marketed as that uniquely American phenomenon, a "can't-miss kid." Although no one has missed the opportunity to profit from her, Capriati has thus far missed out on happiness.

Her story began so well. She turned pro in 1990, when she was 13, and reached the final of the first tournament she entered. The next year she went on a "youngest-ever" binge in the Grand Slam tournaments. At 16, Capriati beat Steffi Graf for the gold medal in the 1992 Olympics.

Capriati's appeal, though, was never wholly dependent on how well she played tennis. Even when her court success was modest, her impact as a cash cow was significant. After only one year as a professional, Capriati was named by Forbes magazine as one of the 40 highest-paid athletes in the world. At her commercial peak, she was pulling in $4.5 million a year. She is believed to have earned $20 million in her abbreviated career.

That money machine has been dismantled. Now 19 and living in seclusion, Capriati is the subject of tennis' special form of hysterical speculation. As when stabbing victim Monica Seles was poised to return to the sport, the tennis world is clamoring to know what Capriati has been doing since she played her last match 14 months ago--and if she plans to play again.

No one is talking. Barbara Perry, Capriati's agent, would not comment for this story, but when speaking on a conference call last week she relented. Her terse response was in keeping with the tight-lipped approach of those around Capriati.

"She is practicing, but she is not making any decisions yet," Perry said. "No one is putting any pressure on her. I wait for her phone call, if and when it comes."

Capriati's situation has inadvertent eccentric overtones. She is said to go about in disguises. There are fleeting glimpses and brief sightings. There have been surprise appearances, the latest last summer at a Hall of Fame dinner where Chris Evert, Capriati's onetime role model and the teen queen of her day, implored Capriati to "come back to the game."

Why in the world should she? The game and the greed of those in it were at least partly responsible for her slide from cover girl to Just Say No poster girl.

The world at large got its first inkling of Capriati's decline in December 1993, when she was accused of stealing a $15 ring from a department store in Tampa, Fla. Capriati said she had been trying on rings and inadvertently walked away from the store with it. But she was cited for shoplifting.

Six months later, she was arrested in a cheap hotel room in Coral Gables, Fla., where she and others had allegedly been using drugs. Capriati was charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana. Two teenagers arrested with her were charged with possession of crack cocaine and heroin.

The next day, the world gawked at an entirely different Capriati when her police mug shot was reproduced, showing a spaced-out teenager with a puffy face, raccoon eyes and a nose ring.

Her parents' response to their daughter's arrest on the shoplifting charge had been to send her to a psychiatric hospital for a two-week evaluation. She emerged from her involuntary stay bitter and angry.

After the marijuana arrest she underwent a court-administered drug rehabilitation program for 23 days. Capriati told the New York Times that she had considered suicide.

So what had happened to change a smiling, engaging 13-year-old into a surly, distrustful 19-year-old?

Here's Stefanie Tolleson, a player agent from the International Management Group, speaking before the age eligibility commission of the WTA Tour:

"We all have responsibility to create a healthy environment in which players can perform to the best of their ability without sacrificing normal physiological, psychological and sociological growth.

"It is that responsibility that we believe is necessary to solving one of the key problems facing women's tennis today--that a child of 13 or 14 years has a physical ability to compete effectively on the women's professional tennis circuit. With that ability comes interest {also known as pressure} from the media, manufacturers, agents and most importantly, whether they realize it or not, from the parents."

Tolleson, a former pro, knows whereof she speaks. She represents Seles, who was signed by IMG at 16. IMG also recruited Russian prodigy Anna Kournikova at 10 and signed her when she was 12.

Capriati and other teenage tennis stars have been thrust from cradle to crucible with little guidance, other than advice on stroke selection. Capriati's parents weren't the first to quit their jobs and make their child the family breadwinner.

Ultimately, tennis became a chain around Capriati's neck, pulling her deeper into an abyss in which self-esteem was equated with winning. Before her "comeback" at Philadelphia, Capriati's last match was a defeat in the first round of the 1993 U.S. Open. She threw her rackets in a trash can after that, retreated to a darkened room and stayed in bed for a week. And out of tennis for a year.

Her first match back was in November 1994, a tour event at Philadelphia. Capriati arrived to great curiosity, not quite the grunge queen, but still looking like any other flannel-shirted teenager. Her hair was dyed purple and orange, her fingernails were painted blue. She affected a deer-in-the-headlights posture with reporters and the public.

She was beaten by Anke Huber in the first round but said afterward, "I learned I really love this game and it doesn't matter to me if I win or lose."

Just the same, she walked away from the game that night and those three sets are the only professional tennis she has played in more than two years.

That a professional athlete made a much-ballyhooed comeback at 18 is remarkable. So is the fact that a sport can use up and discard one so young, so swiftly.

If there is to be another comeback, no one can say other than Capriati herself.

Her parents, Denise and Stefano, have divorced, and in September, Capriati moved out of her mother's home in Rancho Mirage. Capriati and her younger brother, Steven, are living with their father in the residential area of the Saddlebrook Resort at Wesley Chapel, Fla., near Tampa.

Stefano Capriati could not be reached for comment. Denise Capriati, who is engaged and has also moved back to Florida, did not return telephone calls.

Tommy Thompson is the director of coaching at the Harry Hopman Tennis Academy at Saddlebrook. He said Capriati practices at Saddlebrook two or three times a week, hitting against local male college players. She also hits with brother Steven, but because Steven was banned from Saddlebrook two years ago for bad behavior, he and Capriati hit at Hunters' Green, a private club near Tampa.

Thompson said stories of an out-of-shape Capriati are not true. She is in excellent condition and is physically ready to return to the tour, he said.

As before, Capriati practices under the tutelage of her father, whose domineering presence has always prompted cutting remarks by other players and coaches.

"He obviously wants her to play," Thompson said of Stefano Capriati. "I don't think he knows what to do. It frustrates him. She looks likes she wants to try to come back, then she goes off on a trip or something. If you are going to be a professional, there are some things you have to give up and sacrifice."

Others say Capriati's practices are erratic and there are days she simply decides she doesn't feel like playing.

"She loves to compete, but I'm not sure she loves the game," said one insider.

Billie Jean King, Fed Cup captain, said she heard from Capriati last year when the player asked to be considered for the Fed Cup team. The one tennis goal that does seem to interest Capriati is defending her Olympic Gold medal. To be eligible for the Atlanta Games, however, Capriati must first be available to play Fed Cup.

"She told me she had been practicing," King said. "I told her I wanted to see her in tour events before I could evaluate her level. It's not fair to the other {Fed Cup} players. I told her she's got to put herself on the line.

"She definitely seems on the edge of thinking about coming back. I think she may miss the game, but she doesn't miss all that goes with it. The media. But as a professional player, you have obligations. You can't expect not to get interviewed. She's apprehensive."

King said she has given up trying to stay in contact with Capriati, but feels bad about how things turned out.

"I would have liked it to have been different for her," King said. "I don't know Jennifer anymore. I talk to her about three times a year. I let her know that I'm here, that she can call. That's all I can do. You can't make people accept help. I just hope she finds what makes her happy. If she's happy in the tennis world, she should come back. If not, don't. It's as simple as that."

Capriati's image may not be fully intact, but it is still emblematic. When she played and won her first pro match at 13, her bubbly cheerfulness seemed to define the youth and vigor of the women's tour. She symbolized the carefree spirit of pure sport. Not so many years ago, being compared to Capriati was high praise for up-and-coming youngsters.

It's different for young players today. Being compared to Capriati now carries an insinuation of a singed psyche and potential trouble. Not only do players not seek the comparison, they preempt it by declaring how their fledgling careers will not mimic hers.

Martina Hingis of Switzerland had already perfected an I-am-not-Jennifer defense when she turned pro at the end of 1994 as a 14-year-old.

"I think in the USA that things are very different because there's a great deal of pressure on the players, especially by the companies who sponsor, and there's more money at stake," Hingis said, explaining her comparatively low-profile career.

Mary Pierce, who also turned pro at 14, now says that wasn't the right decision.

"I was able to compete at 14, but I think it would have been better if I'd stayed in school," she said. "It's one thing to be able to play professional matches, but it's another to be a professional player."

It was Capriati after all, whose compelling presence persuaded Women's Tennis Assn. officials to adopt the so-called "Capriati rule" that allowed children to turn pro at 13. As the Capriati bandwagon gained speed, the WTA amended its rules again to allow her to play more events.

Capriati's awful example also served as the impetus for the WTA to raise its eligibility age last year. Thus has Jennifer Capriati's career held influence far beyond those of more celebrated players.

"I think people are really pulling for Jennifer," said Karen Feldman, executive director of the WTA Players Assn. "She has so much talent, it would be tempting to see her put that to use. It helps our sport. But she needs to do whatever makes her happy. I'd like to see her get some goals and some direction. But will people ever forget the arrest and everything else? I don't know if that reminder will ever go away."

Said one person close to the situation, "The chances of Jennifer coming back are the greatest if she wants to come back for herself. It could happen if she surrounds herself with people who are positive, who can guide her and support her if she loses, not tell her she's worthless.

"Stefano is in control. That should tell you all you need to know. I'm worried about her. If she doesn't come back, what will she be doing at this time next year? She's pretty far gone."

Lindsay Davenport, musing on Capriati's return at Philadelphia in 1994, may understand the situation better than most. Davenport, who waited until she graduated from high school before turning pro, is having a successful top-10 career. But she remains one of the most relentlessly normal persons on the women's tour and happy in her anonymity.

As she stood watching Capriati and the bizarre scene of photographers and international media representatives, Davenport said, "I guess I was lucky. I wasn't supposed to be very good."
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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old Apr 18th, 2003, 07:55 PM
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Capriati back on the court
Straight-set win in Germany
By Tony Czuczka, Associated Press writer
ESSEN, Germany -- Jennifer Capriati said it wasn't easy. But she almost made it look that way with her strong comeback to the tennis circuit she quit in despair in 1993.
Capriati emerged from a slide into tennis burnout, teenage rebellion and drug rehabilitation to beat Kristie Boogert of the Netherlands 6-1, 6-2 Wednesday in her first tournament match in 15 months.

In an aggressive performance, the 19-year-old willed herself to her first victory in 2 years. Boogert, seeded seventh in the WTA tournament and ranked 32nd in the world, was overwhelmed.
Capriati's on-court tension melted away into a broad smile when she claimed victory after 51 minutes. Elated, she seemed intent on putting her past behind her.
"It means a world to me," she said. "I just couldn't wait to get back to playing. It was fun.
"I felt happy and I was happy with my playing. I'm not sure it was all easy."
Also smiling was Capriati's father, Stefano, who watched his daughter's long-awaited triumph from the side of the court.
Capriati, who began training for a comeback last summer, made up for a tentative serve and occasional easy misses with precise returns and double-fisted backhand winners.
Though Capriati's forehand was sometimes as hard as Steffi Graf's, "sometimes I had the feeling that she had no clue where she was hitting, just hitting everything hard," Boogert said.
It was only the second match for Capriati since dropping off the tour in 1993 after a first-round loss at the U.S. Open and headed into drugs and brushes with the law.
Boogert was no serious measure of Capriati's form. But clearly Capriati showed promise in her attempt to restart a career that began at age 13 in 1990.
In Thursday's second round, she will face Barbara Schett, a 19-year-old Austrian ranked 56th in the world.
Capriati had planned her return last week at the Paris Open but withdrew at the last minute, citing a pulled muscle. The $450,000 Essen indoor tournament then offered her a wild-card invitation.
In November 1994, Capriati aborted an earlier comeback after losing in three sets against Germany's Anke Huber at Philadelphia.
A long struggle seems ahead for the former teen-age sensation once ranked No. 6 in the world but now unranked. Unlike Monica Seles upon her return, Capriati got no special treatment from the WTA and will have to work her way up through the rankings.
Capriati had the element of surprise on her side.
"I had no clue what to expect," Boogert said. "The first three games I was more looking at her and how she was playing. Then I finally knew how she was playing, because she was hitting winners all over the place.
"She was hitting the ball great. I think she's going to make a very good comeback. I played a few top players last year and she made me run more than anyone else."
As snow fell outside, about 2,000 fans in the Grugahalle stadium provided a relatively low-key backdrop for Capriati's return.
Still, she said, "I was quite nervous because it's been a long time since I've been out playing in front of a lot of people."
Capriati started by breaking Boogert's serve at love and took a 3-0 lead. After dropping serve to mAKE IT 3-1, Capriati flashed her powerful backhand to win the next three games and the first set.
"I hit two good backhands at the start and that gave me confidence," she said. "I'm very pleased."
Capriati took a 3-0 lead in the second set. Bogert then scored her only break of the match, making it 3-2.
But Capriati settled down without dropping another game, winning on her first match point when Boogert sent a return wide.
Meanwhile, fourth-seeded defending champion Jana Novotna of the Czech Republic defeated Sweden's Maria Strandlund 0-6, 6-4, 6-1.
In other second-round matches, Sweden's Asa Carlsson upset fifth-seeded Czech Helena Sukova 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 and Barbara Rittner of Germany defeated Sabine Appelmans of Belgium 6-4, 6-4.
Capriati has won six tournaments, including the Olympic title. Her last victory was in August 1993 at the Canadian Open, where she defeated Arantxa Sanchez Vicario in the semifinals before losing to Graf in the final.
At 14, she became the youngest Grand Slam semifinalist in history at the 1990 French Open.
She peaked with a gold medal at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, beating Graf in the final.
In 1993, Capriati left the tour after a first-round loss at the U.S. Open and went into a skid.
She was cited by police for shoplifting a cheap ring, arrested on marijuana possession charges in the spring of 1994 and admitted twice to drug rehabiliation therapy.
A teen-ager arrested with her claimed Capriati also had used heroin, a charge she never denied.
Now, she seems happy not to look back.

and where they produce desolation, they call it peace
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