Tennis: Capriati 'optimistic' as she begins drug abuse treatment

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JENNIFER CAPRIATI has already started treatment for drug abuse at a rehabilitation centre in Miami Beach.

A representative for Capriati confirmed yesterday that the 18-year-old tennis player had entered an addiction treatment programme at Mount Sinai Medical Centre.

'She's optimistic. She's very co-operative with respect to the programme she's in,' John Ross, Capriati's attorney, said. 'I'm hopeful and fairly confident that Jennifer will come through this, that her judgement will improve.'

He challenged allegations that Capritai had used other drugs during a two-day motel room party preceding her arrest on Monday for marijuana possession.

Police said they had no evidence that Capriati had used any hard drug. However, Capriati's arrest prompted the cancellation of her endorsement contracts with the Prince tennis racket company and Diadora, the Italian sportswear company. In Italy, an official for Diadora said the drug charge 'offends the image' his company was seeking.

The International Tennis Federation has formed a special committee to investigate burn-out, highlighted by Capriati's own case, with a view to raising the age at which girls can join the professional circuit, currently 14. The committee - made up of child psychologists, doctors and players - is expected to make recommendations to raise the minimum age to 16 by September.