Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Dark Day for Amelia Tourney Kournikova, Seles and Capriati Out

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Dark Day for Amelia Tourney Kournikova, Seles and Capriati Out

Article excerpt

Byline: Gene Frenette, Times-Union sports writer

A public relations bomb dropped on the Bausch & Lomb Championships yesterday when three of the world's top eight players -- two-time defending champion Monica Seles, Australian Open champion Jennifer Capriati and Anna Kournikova -- pulled out of the tournament because of foot injuries or family-related reasons.

Capriati bowed out in the morning when she informed event officials that she was withdrawing to spend time with her mother, Denise, who just underwent hip surgery, and also had been undergoing chemotherapy. Around 3:30 p.m., Seles informed Bausch & Lomb that she hadn't sufficiently recovered from a foot injury suffered at Indian Wells three weeks ago to defend her title.

Approximately a half-hour later, Kim Bacon, a representative of Octagon, which serves as Kournikova's agent, called to say that the No. 8-ranked player was also pulling out. Kournikova suffered a stress fracture in her left foot in mid-February and has yet to return to competition.

"It's a big blow to the tournament when you lose three stars like that," tournament director John Arrix said. "It's the nature of this sport, which promotes individual stars, that you're occasionally subject to this kind of disappointment. The biggest positive is we still have Martina Hingis."

The tournament, which starts Monday at Amelia Island Plantation, has four of the world's Top 10 players. Besides the No. 1-ranked Hingis, who is making her Bausch & Lomb debut, the other top-10 players scheduled to participate are Conchita Martinez, Elena Dementieva and Amanda Coetzer.

After learning that Seles and Kournikova wanted more time to heal from their injuries, Arrix contacted Capriati's agent -- Barbara Perry of International Management Group -- in attempt to try and get her back into the tournament. But Capriati strongly felt the need to stay in south Florida while her mother is recuperating from surgery.

"We took our time to explore anything with Jennifer Capriati that would allow her to have quality family time and still get up here to play," Arrix said. …

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