Tennis: Coaches' opposite views on Capriati: American's future under scrutiny

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The Independent Online
JENNIFER CAPRIATI'S former coaches are divided on whether she will resume her tennis career.

The 18-year-old left the WTA Tour last autumn and has given no indication when she might rejoin the circuit. But Rick Macci, who coached Capriati from the time she was 10 until she turned professional just before her 14th birthday, said: 'There's no doubt she's going to play again. There's no doubt she can be at the top of the mountain.'

The American Olympic gold medallist was arrested on Monday for possession of marijuana at a motel in Coral Gables, Florida.

Macci said: 'She has grown up in front of the whole world - what you eat, who you date, what you drive. Sometimes it's easier to turn that button off. Obviously this doesn't help it. But when it's all said and done, we'll look at this as just part of her growing up.'

The June issue of Tennis magazine includes a story about Capriati's absence from the tour. Among those quoted is Tom Gullikson, who was Capriati's coach when she first turned pro.

'I think she's got a lot of work to do if she's ever to come back,' Gullikson told the magazine. 'And she has to want to do it for herself; she can't be coming back because of others' expectations.

'I honestly never got the sense that she really loved the game, the way you sense that a Pete Sampras or a Jimmy Connors really loves it. To be great for a long, long time, you've got to love it.'

Capriati is staying with her parents in Boca Raton, Florida, since the arrest. She could not be reached for comment, but her agent issued a statement on behalf of the family thanking the public for its 'good wishes during this difficult time'.

Her arrest came five months after she was cited by Tampa police for allegedly shoplifting a ring worth dollars 15 ( pounds 10).

'It's been a very unfortunate mix of a lot of things,' Pam Shriver, the president of the WTA Tour Players' Association, said. 'Unfortunately, somebody with that much talent and that wealthy in so many ways should have the world by the tail. But as we know, it's never an automatic.'

Capriati recently said she was completing her senior year of high school at a private school in Boca Raton while taking a college entrance exam preparation class at Florida Atlantic University.

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