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W' 91 THE PALM BEACH POST FRIDAY, MARCH 27, 1998 9C the tournament; WHERE: Tennis Center at Crandon Park, Key Biscayne. WHEN: Through Sunday. DIRECTIONS: Take Interstate 95 south to Key Biscayne exit. Head east and over the Rickenbacker Causeway. Tennis center is on right. TICKETS: $20-$40. Call (305) ; 442-3367. ; TV: 1-3 p.m., ESPN. A diplomatic George Bush visits Lip ton Former President George Bush, secret service in tow, stopped by for a tour Thursday, but the avid tennis fan didn't have time to watch any of the tournament. Notebook ' .'V ALLEN EYESTONEStaff Photographer the year. He faces Alex Corretja tonight, and Marcelo Rios plays Tim Henman at 1 p.m. in the other semifinal. Andre Agassi wasn't pleased with his performance against qualifier Jeff Tarango, but it got him to his fourth semifinal of Agassi heads after 'getting to semifinals job done9 worried about winning or losing. That was a pretty good feeling for me." Orange Bowl changes: The Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships, a prestigious junior tournament, will move from its 51-year home on the clay courts at Flamingo Park in Miami Beach to the hard courts at the Tennis Center at Crandon Park, site of the Lipton. Butch Buchholz, Lipton's tournament director, will manage the event, which attracts more than 600 players from 80 nations, in a partnership with the USTA. The tournament will move up a week in the calendar (to Dec. 12-20 this year), and the boys' 16 and 18 singles draws will shrink from 96 to 64 players. well," Tarango said. "But not being able to convert on break points really killed me." Tarango had four opportunities but didn't win anf break points. Agassi wil meet eighth seed Alex Corretja at 7:30 jonight in the semifinal. Third seed Marceld Rios plays Tim Henman at 1 p.m. in the oher semifinal. Corretja jeat qualifier Steve Campbell of Detroit 8-3, 6-1 in the final men's quarterfinal Thursday. Campbells ranking will improve from 105 to 80 nekt week based on his career-best results in this tournament. "It's been a great week for me," Campbell said. "Every match that I played was just a bonus. I've just been so loose. I wasn't By Elizabeth Clarke Palm Beach Post Staff Writer KEY BISCAYNE Andre Agassi wasn't impressed with his own performance Thursday in defeating unseeded Jeff Tarango, but he was happy to get the job done and proceed to his fourth semifinal of the year. ' ; "I'd say (it was) efficient," Agassi said after the 6-4, 6-3 victory. "You know, just kind of hard hat, lunch pail, go to work, get the job done." Tarango, whose ranking will improve to a career-high in the 50s next week, made too many errors to beat Agassi, ranked 31 in the world. Tarango made 35 unforced errors to Agassi's 18. "I think I was hitting the ball pretty Bush got a personal tour from Tournament Director Butch Buchholz and did some diplomatic deeds along the way. In the player's center, he spoke with women's finalist Anna Kournikova, her (mom and her grandmother, who is visiting from Russia. He also spoke with Sandon Stolle, whom he met at Wimbledon last year, and chatted with Steve Campbell while he warmed up for his quarterfinal. Bush also visited with others throughout the park, including a former president of Costa Rica. Tournament officials said he bought T-shirts and a cap in the Nike tent. B Davenport inspired: Second seed Lindsay Davenport was moved when she went to buy a raffle ticket for a Mercedes-Benz car and heard the proceeds would be donated to two charities, the Ashe-Buchholz Tennis Center and the Community Partnership for Homeless of Greater Miami. She was moved so moved that she decided to buy 50 raffle tickets instead of one. At $200 a ticket, Davenport essentially donated $10,000 to the charities. results Men Singles . Quarterfinals I Andre Agassi def. Jeff , Tarango 6-4, 6-3. ; Alex Corretja (8) def. Steve Campbell 6-3, 6-1. ' Doubles Quarterfinals ' Jonathan Stark and Alex vO'Brien def. David Adams and 'Wayne Ferreira 5-7, 6-3, 6-3. Mark Knowles and Daniel 'Nestor def. Sandon Stolle and ' Cyril Suk 6-1, 7-6 (7-2). J Ellis Ferreira and Rick Leach 'def. Neil Broad and Piet Norval 6-3, 6-4. Women Singles Quarterfinals Venus Williams (1 1) def. Martina Hingis (1) 6-2, 5-7, 6-2. Anna Kournikova def. Arantxa , Sanchez Vicario (8) 3-6, 6-1,6-1. Doubles Quarterfinals - Conchita Martinez and Patricia Tarabini def. Alexandra Fusai and Nathale Tauziat 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5). Martina Hingis and Jana Novotna def. Elena Likhovtseva and Ai Sugiyama 6-4, 6-3. today's matches Day sessions begin at 1 p.m. Night sessions begin at 7:30 p.m. Stadium day sessions Marcelo Rios (3) vs. Tim rjenman (18) Anna KournikovaAarisa Nleiland (7) vs. Aranxta Sanchez flicarioNatasha Zvereva (2) Alex O'BrienJonathan Stark (fc) vs. Mark KnowlesDaniel Nestor (12) i Stadium evening session Alex Corretja (8) vs. Andre assi (29) Martina HingisJana Novotna (i) vs. Patricia TarabiniConchita Martinez (6) 511: Call 511 and enter category 3861 for frequent updates on The Lipton tennis tournament. 50 for up 511 fo 5 mir min. See page 2A tor more details. INTERNET: For coverage of The lipton on line, go to Palm Beach Interactive: www.GoPBl.comSportsTown counting off defending men's Lipton l champion left in the tournament. Andre Agassi won the title here in 1990, 1995 and 1996. aces Andre Agassi served against Jeff Tarango. He 8 converted just two of 10 break points but won 6-4, 6-3 in 1 hour, 1 1 minutes. Said Agassi: "I don't think Jeff was playing great. I wasn't." 9 straight times Andre Agassi L has traveled to Key Biscayne to compete in the Lipton Championships. That's every year since 1987. Only one other men's player, Javier Sanchez, has been here so many consecutive years, age of the oldest women's semifinalist. Arantxa Sanchez Vicario lost in the fourth round here last year, one of her toughest seasons in 12 years on the tour. oao men and women trying Z93 to sell T-shirts, hats and other souvenirs on the grounds of the Tennis Center at Crandon Park. O nnn approximate ,uuu number of beads in Venus Williams' hair. The blue, white and yellow beads match the Reebok dress she has been wearing at this tournament. mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm court quirks BEAD PLAY The chair umpire stopped play once during the first women's semifinal Thursday when Martina Hingis noticed several beads on the court. She said about 10 blue ones had fallen from Venus Williams' hair and were all in one area, near the service line. Three ball people rushed onto the court and collected the beads, which Williams said later are falling out because the rubber bands are breaking. "It doesn't matter," Hingis said. "You just put them away and you play. But it was kind of funny." stargazing Former President Bush, Brooke Shields and Miami Dolphins quarterback Craig Erickson were sighted at Crandon Park on Thursday. aces and faces SIGNING OFF Richard Williams, father of Venus and Serena, spent Wednesday night and Thursday morning with a pile of paper and a pen. He was making signs that he held up throughout Venus' match from his seat in the first row behind Venus. The signs said things like "I love my wife," "We thank the ball kids" and "I drink Lipton tea." Others, he said, thanked the Lipton volunteers and expressed the Williams' family's appreciation for the tournament. He did it, and plans to have improved signs for Saturday's final, because he wanted to do something nice for his wife, he said. After the Venus upset the top seed, Richard held court at the edge of an outdoor players' lounge. He chatted with reporters and smoked his skinny brown cigarettes while receiving continuous congratulations from friends and fans. He stopped talking long enough to thank all of the well-wishers, calling out "God bless you" to many. He also helped keep autograph-seekers abreast of his daughters' whereabouts. He told one little boy Venus was in the shower. And Serena? "She's hanging out with her sister celebrating her victory." Williams said, 'the one she should have had." Elizabeth Clarke i Williams sisters don't go away easily Venus keeps cool, notches second win against Hingis GEORGE From 1C She's too tall at 6-feet-l to miss, too powerful with her 118-mph serve to believe and too young at 17 to appreciate the potentially disastrous effect of three blown match points. Hingis seemed to have Williams set up beautifully Thursday, gaining a third-set opportunity because Venus ran out of gas in the second, but this was no ordinary semifinal pairing of a top seed and second banana. This was a preview of center-court classics to come, not Chrissie and Martina but Venus and Martina. It takes two to tango, you know, though Williams couldn't resist a brief finger-wagging snuffle step of her own at the net Thursday after chasing off the rival who denied her a U.S. Open title in September. "I don't do a full dance on court," Venus said. "Maybe after I win a (Grand) Slam or something of that nature." Clearly it would be something else to win at the Lipton, an 11-dav tournament that falls just short of Grand Slam status on both the men s and women s tours. How much better to be introduced at the French Open in May as the Lipton champion rather than simDlv as a winner at Oklahoma City, the site of Venus first and only pro victory three weeks ago. One more match. Saturday's final against Anna Kournikova, can make that happen, though Venus will be ranked No. iu next week either way. Serena, 16. isn't far behind. No. 30 or so depending on how the computer data kicks in over the weekend. The Williamses are giving everybody out here the willies, and it s only begun. A lot of times, said V enus, the eirls out here aren't at their best moving and hitting at the same time. I believe for Serena and I, it's a strong point. We can hit." Venus tossed away a 3-C lead in Thursday's second setgiving Hingis hope with an unexpected stream of unforced errors, but soon enough it was Martina playing mind games in a desperate attempt to defend her Lipton title. Hingis left the court early in the third set, her stated purpose being to change into a dry shirt, but Venus won the last set without breaking a sweat. Serena lost her concentration during a similar break by Hingis in Tuesday's quarterfinal. She led 5-4 in the third set when Hingis called a trainer courtside because of j leg cramps. Does that mean Serena is softer than Venus because she went on to lose the match? Hardly. j The difference is Seren has been a regular member of the women's tour since November. In Venus' first pro tournament in 1994, for instance, she led Arantxa Sanchez Vicario 6-3, 3- 0 but lost the match. Venus was 14 at the time and Sanchez was No. 2 in the world. No shame there, and no correlation whatsoever with the seasoned teenage tigers the Williams girls have become. j If you want mind games, how about Venus showin sympathy for Hingis, who is three months younger than Williams but already has won Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and couple of Australian Opens? "I think that sometimes it's probably not so easy tc be on top and you're only 17," Venus said. "It can probably take a toll on someone. Even if she's not as good as she was last year, I think she's doing real good. . . . 1 think that whatever shi does, I think everyone should accept that." Accept defeat? Not Hingis. Not Venus, either. As fo- Serena, she's just waiting to cut in. Maybe one day the men's tour will be this interesting again, but only if Andre Agassi has an evil twin. said. "She beat me now. She beat me in Sydney (in January). Of course, she's going to be a tough opponent." Although Williams doesn't consider this match a turning point, it was a tangible sign of improvement. "I was tired of losing in ridiculous ways," said Williams, who lost to Hingis 6-0, 7-6 two weeks ago in Indian Wells. The nature of Williams' play has been her biggest adjustment. "She got smarter," Hingis said. "She changes the pace. She doesn't hit every ball as hard as she can. She tries to change it up, mix it up. That makes her a better player." A year ago, Williams came to the Lipton ranked 211 in the world and left a third-round victim of eventual champion Hingis. The following week, Hingis replaced Steffi Graf as No. 1 in the world. Williams' celebration after the victory was controlled. She did a bit of a dance and jogged a few steps to her dad for a kiss and a hug. She knew she remained one win from her second title and that even if she won, wouldn't displace Hingis. "I don't have the ranking she has," Williams said. "But I believe I'm progressing." Her father agrees, despite admitting he thought Venus would have started beating Hingis earlier in her career. In three months, Richard Williams predicted, Venus will move to what he called "Phase 2" of her game. Phase 1 is the ground game she plays now. She has played this way, he said, to prove that blacks can win with groundstrokes. The plan continues. "Now we're going to allow Venus to go to Phase 2, which is the scrve-and-vollcy game," he said. "God knows, with that speed and that height she'll be able to take vou oft the court" LIPTON From 1C that's why she beat me. She was just a better player today." In the first set, Williams dominated with hard, well-placed balls all over the court. She won the set in just 29 minutes and looked like she would hand Hingis one of her worst defeats since she earned the top ranking the week after last year's Lipton. She broke Hingis' serve in the seventh game, aided by several Hingis errors, then got three match points in the next game. Hingis dispatched the first two with forehand winners off Williams' serve. Williams sent a backhand long on her third chance. "I was just much too tight and I was much too pumped," Williams said. "It was very sad that I had to do that, but in the end, I still prevailed." After the match points, Hingis finished the second set quickly, winning one game at love. Williams held serve easily to start the third set, then waited while Hingis took a bathroom break to change her shirt Hingis wasn't surprised that the crowd, quite supportive of Williams, jeered her when she returned. Unlike her sister, who got rattled when Hingis called for a trainer during their quarterfinal Tuesday, Williams " returned to the court relaxed and won three straight games. She faltered briefly at 4-0. Hingis went up 30-15 on a perfect lob, then 40-15 on a Williams double fault. Hingis won the game on the next point with a forehand down the line. Williams thought it was out and started getting upset From his front-row spot her father motioned for her to calm down. His advice seemed to work. Hingis held serve in the next game but won just two points in the final two games. "She is (my equal)." Hingis And they can take a punch.