The Week in Tennis

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The Independent Online

STARS

STARS

- Julien Benneteau and Nicolas Mahut led France to the ITF Sunshine Cup crown, beating Argentina at Key Biscayne, Florida.

- Nadezda Petrova and Lina Krasnoroutskaia teamed to give Russia the ITF Connolly Continental Cup title, besting Spain at Key Biscayne, Florida.

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SPEAKING

"This is an exciting day for tennis." - Mark Miles, ATP Tour chief executive officer, on changes in the men's tour.

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SEASON-ENDER

No longer will there be two year-ending men's events. The ATP Tour, the Grand Slam committee and the International Tennis Federation have agreed to run a joint season-ending tournament beginning next year. Named the Tennis Masters Cup, the event replaces the ATP Tour World Championships and the men's Grand Slam Cup. No decision has yet been announced concerning the women's Grand Slam Cup, which has been held the last two years in conjunction with the men's event.

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SWEETHEART DEALS

Britain's top player, Tim Henman, was married last week to Lucy Heald, just one week after the country's No 2 player, Greg Rusedski, also wed, getting married to childhood sweetheart Lucy Connor. While Rusedski had a lavish, celebrity-studded wedding, Henman and his bride, a television producer, opted for a low-key ceremony at a 12th-Century village church in Hampshire, southern England.

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SPECIAL AMBASSADOR

Nicolas Lapentti received the Medal of Congress and was declared an honorary ambassador of Ecuador earlier this month. The player received his medal from Ecuador's President Carlos Falquez.

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SUPER 9 SWITCH

The Super 9 tournaments on the ATP Tour have changed their name. Now they will be known as the Tennis Masters Series, which will culminate in the Tennis Masters Cup, formerly known as the ATP Tour World Championship. As before, there will be four tournaments in North America and five in Europe, while the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup will rotate through major world capitals, beginning with Lisbon, Portugal, in 2000. The 60 tournaments outside the Tennis Masters Series, which had been comprised of Championship and World Series events, will be combined as part of the new International Series.

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STARS OF THE CENTURY

Australian Rod Laver beat out American Pete Sampras as The Associated Press men's tennis player of the century, and Germany's Steffi Graf edged Czechoslovakian-born Martina Navratilova as the top women's player in a vote by a panel of experts. American Bill Tilden, who dominated men's play in the 1920s, finished third in the men's race, followed by Sweden's Bjorn Borg, American Don Budge, a tie between John McEnroe of the United States and Australia's Lew Hoad, a tie between Australians Roy Emerson and Ken Rosewall, and American Jack Kramer. In the women's poll, Graf and Navratilova were separated by a single point, 52-51, and were followed by Australian Margaret Smith Court, American's Billie Jean King and Chris Evert, Suzanne Lenglen of France, Americans Helen Wills Moody and Maureen Connolly, Yugoslavian-born Monica Seles, and a tie for No. 10 between Evonne Goolagong of Australia and Martina Hingis of Switzerland.

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SAN DIEGO-BOUND

Defending champion John McEnroe and three-time winner Jimmy Connors will return to San Diego July 13-16 for the 2000 Quality Challenge, the showcase event of the Worldwide Senior Tennis Circuit. With dlrs 370,000 in prize money, the Quality Challenge has the highest profile of the senior circuit's 22 events. Connors lost to McEnroe in last year's final, 6-2, 6-1.

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SIDELINED

Pat Rafter is expected to skip next month's Australian Open because of his injured shoulder. The two-time US Open champion from Australia was a notable absentee from the official entry list when nominations closed last week, although he has said he may apply for a wild card so that he can defend his doubles crown with Swede Jonas Bjorkman. The 26-year-old Rafter has not played since injuring his shoulder and pulling out of his first-round match against Cedric Pioline at the US Open in September.

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STEFFI TO JAPAN

Steffi Graf's farewell tour travels to Tokyo where she will play an exhibition match against Japan's Kimiko Date during the Toray Pan Pacific Open tournament in February. The match will be held on February 6 after the singles and doubles finals. Graf chose to play Date, who became the only Japanese player to win against a world No 1 player by beating Graf at the Fed Cup in April 1996 before retiring at the end of the same season.

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SITES TO SURF

www.itatennis.com

www.tennisnews.com

www.tennisfame.org

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