The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on March 29, 1998 · Page 808
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March 29, 1998

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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 808

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West Palm Beach, Florida
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Sunday, March 29, 1998
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. im i ri n i i ri T-rt-T t r" f r-m - m r m m mm m m m " m 9 m'm i mm m v l' 9 m m m m m m m " m m "mwm m mwt"' m " 9 u ww w 9mmm'm msl w THE PALM BEACH POST SUNDAY, MARCH 29, 1998 11C JIIP ('. r.. 1 f - ft counting off As he climbs rankings again, Agassi 'kind of a genius' the tournament WHAT: The world's largest non-Grand Slam tennis tournament, with $4.6 million in prize money. WHERE: Tennis Center at Cran-don Park, Key Biscay ne (14,000 seats) WHEN: Today. DIRECTIONS: Take 1-95 south to Key Biscayne exit. Head east and over Rickenbacker Causeway. Tennis center is on right. TICKETS: $20-$40. Call 305-442-3367. TV: 2 p.m., WPEC-12, WF0R-4 (tape delay). y - " " u j results I Lipton match played in the best : 1 3-of-5 sets format, which is I; used at all four Grand Slam ; tournaments. The men's final, after;' 1 0 days of best 2-of-3 sets, j switches to best 3-of-5. j jo years since an American ' woman won the singles title :; here. Venus Williams is the first !; since Chris Evert, also a South Floridian, won Lipton in 1986. j; 33 total previous doubles titles ' ', won by Rick Leach before Saturday. His titles matched his ;; age until he and partner Ellis ; ; Ferreira won the doubles final. It is Leach's second Lipton doubles title. cq approximate number of kids ; ; waiting more than an hour for ; Venus Williams to sign autographs after her win. She didn't sign any. ; j 14 000 seats 'n tne stadium court ' ' arena. Presumably, all ; ; 1 4,000 will be filled today because ; ; tickets to the match sold out : Friday. ; 235,000 fmount of money :; ' Venus Williams won ,; with the tournament title. It is the i; biggest payday of her career. Koumikova earned $ 1 20,000. ; ; Venus wasn't sure what she'd do ; ' with the money. "I'm going to put it '.' in the bank. Maybe buy my dogs a !! collar." ;: Agassi Rios Tale of the tape ANDRE AGASSI MARCELO RIOS Age 27 22 Hometown Las Vegas Santiago, Chile Year turned pro 1986 1994 Current ranking 31 3 Expected ranking, if win 1 7 1 Expected ranking, if lose 22 2 1998 record 24-3 24-3 Career hard court record 318-83 75-34 Career titles 36 7 Grand Slam titles 3 0 Plays. right-handed left-handed Aces this tournament 24 18 By Elizabeth Clarke Palm Beach Post Staff Writer KEY BISCAYNE For pride alone, Alex Corretja has to say Andre Agassi has a good chance to win the Lipton. Corretja, the eighth seed who got knocked around the court by Agassi in their Friday night semifinal, wasn't willing to go so far as to predict Agassi would beat third seed Marcelo Rios in today's men's singles final. But he is impressed with the way Agassi has been able to resurrect his career to such heights so many times. "He's kind of a genius in tennis," Corretja said. "Mentally, he's really good, and his ground strokes are really, really great." Agassi, like Rios, will not blow anyone away with his serve or end points quickly with a few well-placed volleys. Both players' strengths lie in their precise ground strokes and ability to move. "You can run (for) five hours on the court and (Agassi) has the power of the match the whole time," Corretja said. "It's a little bit (like) Marcelo. when he gets the rhythm, it's really difficult to just catch him and try to move him." Rios, 22, and -Agassi, 27, have never played each other. They are tied with the best match record in the game this year, 24-3. Agassi is seeking his fourth Lipton championship, which also would bump his ranking into the top 20. A victory for Rios would be the biggest title of his career, both in the size of the paycheck and the meaning of the win. Rios will move to No. 1 in the world if he beats Agassi. He moves to No. 2 if he loses. Agassi, then, bears the job of keeping Pete Sampras at No. 1, although he said that isn't a primary concern. "I don't think, to be quite honest, Pete is too concerned about it," Agassi said. "It's a long year, and Pete can score on any surface pretty well." Besides, as Agassi has said before, his concern is reaching No. 1 himself. He expects a baseline battle today. "When I'm playing baseliners (and) I'm playing well, every point is about establishing yourself," he said. "Then I'm pretty confident." Men Doubles Fhals Ellis FerreiraRick Leach (7) def. Alex O'BrienJonatan Stark (8) 6-2, 6-4. Women Singles Finals Venus Williams (11) def. Anna Koumikova (23) 2-6, 6-4, 6-1. Doubles Semifinals Arantxa Sanchez Vicario Natasha Zvereva (2) def. Julie Halard-DecugisRachel McQuillan 6-4, 6-2. today's matches Day session begins at 12 p.m. Stadium day sessions Andre Agassi (29) vs. Marcelo Rios (3). Martina HingisJana Novotna (1) vs. Arantxa Sanchez Vicario Natasha Zvereva (2). stargazing who won the 1992 Lipton doubles title with Ken Flach, has had a recurrence of the brain tumor that was removed in 1996. He is at home in Zionsville, Ind., but after the cancer returned, the doctors' prognosis has not been promising. Witsken, 34, and his wife, Lisa, have four young children. Women's doubles today: Top seeds Martina Hingis and Jana Novotna face Arantxa Sanchez Vicario and Natasha Zvereva in the women's doubles final, which will be played immediately following the men's singles final today. Sanchez Vicario and Zvereva are the defending champions. New doubles champions: Ellis Fer-reira and Rick Leach defeated Alex O'Brien and Jonathan Stark 6-2, 6-4 to become the first new doubles champions since Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde won their first Lipton title in 1995. Ferreira, no relation to Wayne Ferreira, and Leach are playing together for the first time this year. This is their first title together. Woodbridge and Woodforde withdrew from the first round here after playing one set. Woodbridge had the flu and also pulled out of the singles draw. Former winner ill: Todd Witsken, Early Open era champion Rod Laver and Pancho Segura, a pre-Open player, watched the women's final Saturday. court quirks HAIRY QUESTIONS Pete Sampras, clean-cut and ! never seen with an earring or even a controversial shirt, might be able ' to question Marcelo Rios' unusual long-on-top, short underneath , ; haircut and the way Rios wears the longer top part in a ponytail to play. But something seems amiss : when Andre Agassi questions any ; man's hair. "He missed a spot ; there with his haircut," Agassi ; joked Friday, indicating the long part on top. Not what you'd !' expect from the former long hair I who shocked the tennis world with his clothing colors and earring as T" a young player more than a decade ago. TIGER, SCHMIGER r Venus Williams isn't motivated by statements that she is the -4 Tiger Woods of tennis, but she ; thinks it's valid for comparison. "I think it gives a good analogy for", people who might not follow , ' tennis to feel or to understand " what I am for tennis." As a matter of fact, why not call him the Venus Williams of golf? COOL GIFT Somebody rewarded the fans", in the cheap seats Saturday. Fans sitting high above stadium court in the fourth section received what looked like tennis ball necklacesP f m WH w r JWmmmmmmmmmmmwnmM iu.ii i in n n y jmmamaannpmM ' ' ''', Kournikova's plan works for a set 'When I win, everyone wins. Serena wins, my mom wins. It's just good for all of us.' VENUS WILLIAMS Turns out the balls, which were : : adorned with a Nike swoosh and hung around people necks on a LIPTON From 1C to hug her mom and sisters. Her father, Richard Williams, had moved to the front row carrying his erasable marker board for the final point. He jumped up and down in circles with the board over his head when she won. The board carried different messages throughout the match, including "About now, Venus needs Lipton tea" when she was down early. "When I win, everyone wins," Venus Williams said. "Serena wins, my mom wins. It's just good for all of us." Even though Kournikova lost, she was laughing and happy afterward. She made history by becoming the first player to beat four top 10 players in this tournament, by far her best career performance, and will move to a career-high ranking of 16 in the world Monday. "I think I just got a little bit tired physically," she said. "But it's good. It shows me that she didn't beat me. I lost." Williams didn't disagree, necessarily. She said Kournikova won the first set with a good plan and aggressive play. Williams was down a set just 24 minutes into the match after managing just three winners in eight games, an uncommon ratio for her. in the third but Williams served out the match at love. "At that point, I was kind of tired and ready for the match to be over," she said. "But there was no way I was going to lose serve that game." Kournikova didn't blame her loss on exhaustion but wasn't resigned to the fact that Williams is unbeatable. "I think that it was a very long week for me," she said. "I've played a very tough job compared to Venus." Kournikova, ranked 25th coming in, beat up-and-comer Mirjana Lucie in the first round, followed by fifth seed Monica Seles, Con-chita Martinez (9), Lindsay Davenport (2) and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario (8). Williams, seeded and ranked 11th, played no one ranked higher than 29th until she met top seed and year-long world No. 1 Martina Hingis in the semifinals. Listening to her father and learning to adjust to other players' games over the past year helped Williams win, she thinks. "It was something my dad had told me before, and today also. If I was having trouble, then to do this, to do that," she said. "That's exactly what I did. If he hadn't told me that or if I hadn't listened, things might not have gone the way they had today." cord, opened to become binoculars. updates "Since I'm so tall, (and) I had the wrap on my knee, maybe she thought she should slice, keep it in play, let me rush," Williams said. "That was a good plan." Kournikova had made just nine unforced errors, plus nine winners, in that set. But she couldn't continue controlling the points. She finished with 53 unforced errors, compared with Williams' 38, but did make double Williams' winners with 20. "She started to play great in the second and third sets," Kournikova said. "All shots, she ran them down." Williams broke Kournikova back early in the second set, then won her serve. Kournikova took a bathroom break down 3-2 but lost her serve again when she returned. She got one break back at 5-3 but lost the next six games in a row. She eked one game out at 5-0 511: Call 51 1 and enter category 3861 for , frequent updates on The Lipton tennis tournament. 50 for up' - 5111 to 5 min. See page 2A for more details. INTERNET: For coverage of The - Lipton on line, go to Palm Beacn. . Interactive: ' " r.GoPBIxomSportsTown c- ALLFN EYESTONEStaff Photograph Venus Williams hit comer-to-corner to win a prolonged rally early in the second set that seemed to change the rhythm. Co-workers face off in Treasure Coast tournament finals Local tennis Martin Downs employees Larry Brown and Berend Van Toor will meet in today's inaugural men's championship at Monarch CC. By Julius Whigham II Palm Brack Post Staff Wnter PALM CITY One thing will be certain today at the Monarch Country Club. the first men's Treasure Coast Tennis Singles Championship trophy will belong to a Martin Downs Country Club employee. Martin Downs tennis director Larry Brown will meet head tennis pro Berend Van Toor for the inaugural men's championship title after both earned semifinal victories on Saturday at Monarch. In the women's competition, Sewall's Joint's Natalie Humes, who defeated Karifn Bradley 6-3, 7-5, will face Elizabeth Froelmg. who beat Megan McGarvock Friday, for the women's championship. right hand in a skiing accident "Right now, for me, it's purely a fitness deal" Van Toor said after his 6-1, 6-2 win against Jeff Wilson. "I'm hitting the ball as well as I can, I just don't have a lot of energy. A lot of the things that I want to do, I still can't do." What Van Toor could do in his semifinals match was enough to impress Wilson, who is also the tournament's director. "He's just too good a player," Wilson said. "Maybe ten years ago I would have given him fits, but not now." In all, a total of 197 doubles and singles players have participated this week, chairman Lee Abraham said. Prior to this year, the tournament, which raises money for the Martin County Chapter of the American Red Cross, has existed solely as a doubles competition. "It's by far the latest tournament in the area," Abraham said. "We hope it will continue to get bigger in the future. The hope is perhaps that we can bring more professionals for next year's tournament." y at 11:30 a.m. "I might have to fire him if he beats me too bad," Brown, who resides in Port SL Lucie, said about his upcoming match with Van Toor. Brown advanced to the finals by defeated Jensen Beach's Bill LaTour 6-2, 6-2. "He made a few more errors than he normally does," Brown said. "His forehand is a big weapon and he doesn't miss often. I think it was a matter of who had a little more consistency with his ground strokes." "He kept the ball in play and I made some mistakes," said LaTour, an instructor at North River Shores. "He's a smart player. He knew if the ball was in play, I would make a mistake. I did a lot to beat myself." v For Van Toor, the No. 3-ranked player by the Florida Tennis Association, the tournament has been an opportunity to get back into plavine shape. Six weeks ago. he broke his Port St. Lucie's Larry Brown served: a straight set semifinals win against Jensen Beach's Bill La-Tour at the Treasure Coast Tennis Champi onships. Brown n I" will face Ber end Van Toor I L IZ 1 in today's final. The men s and women s f nvs bo nn toriv

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