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Roddick to play Blake in Shriver benefit feature
Harkelroad, Sharapova meet in Future Legends
By Sandra McKee
Sun Staff
Originally published September 8, 2003

NEW YORK -- U.S. Open finalist Andy Roddick and the popular James Blake will be the featured match for Pam Shriver's annual benefit tennis event, the Mercantile Tennis Challenge.
Shriver will make the official announcement today in Baltimore. The event is Dec. 4.

"I went to Pam's event two years ago," Roddick said. "It was a good event. We raised a lot of money for kids. Unfortunately, I couldn't come back last year, but now, I'm going to get to play there again against James.

"I think it's going to be a lot of fun for us and the fans who come to help a good cause."

For her part, Shriver said she can't believe her good fortune this year. In a year in which businesses are cutting costs at every opportunity, she went seeking a new sponsor and found Mercantile Bank Corp. They've signed a two-year contract for the event, which benefits children's charities.

Then, in May, she called Roddick, hoping to get him to sign on for another appearance.

"When I talked to Andy, I had no idea I'd be bringing the hottest player in the world to my hometown," Shriver said. "He's been the next predicted champion for a while, and I don't think we've ever been more excited. To have Andy and James Blake, who isn't a Top 10 player right now, but who has the charisma and personality of a Top 10 player, that's a great match."

After 18 years, Shriver has tweaked the classic's lineup a bit. Gone is the Legends Match, and in its place is the Future Legends Match. On this first outing, young American Ashley Harkelroad and young Russian Maria Sharapova will share the court for a singles match.

Those two also will play a mixed doubles match with Roddick and Blake.

Shriver said that while she knows the Orioles Challenge match has always been a fan favorite, she is not sure where or if it will be on this year's program.

"We haven't ruled it out yet," she said. "But after all these years, we are looking at at least making some changes with it."

Tickets go on sale this afternoon at Ticketmaster or by calling the tournament office, 410-296-2929.

That is going to be fun! :banana:
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