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THE INSIDE TRACK | NEWSWIRE

Hingis Regains Her Cool, Wins to Become No. 1 Player

March 28, 1997|From Staff and Wire Reports

Martina Hingis retained her racket, her composure and eventually her lead Thursday, serving an ace to finish off Jana Novotna, 6-3, 2-6, 6-4, in a grueling semifinal match in the Lipton Championships at Key Biscayne, Fla.

Hingis improved to 25-0 this year, but not without difficulty, losing her cool in the heat and humidity of South Florida.

When she lost the first game of the final set, she sent her tennis racket skidding across the court and was booed and warned for racket abuse by the chair umpire.

"I got my first warning this tournament," Hingis, 16, said with a smile. "Still, not as bad as the other tournaments."

She regained the lead, then held on with no further outbursts and delivered the only ace of the match on the final point.

It took Hingis nearly two hours to eliminate third-seeded Novotna on a steamy afternoon in which a scoreboard reported the court temperature at 105 degrees.

"One-hundred-five," Novotna said. "It's like, 'Nice, frying, let's pour some olive oil over me.' "

Hingis will play the winner of Thursday night's match between Monica Seles and Barbara Paulus in Saturday's final.

Regardless of the outcome, the Swiss teenager will become the youngest No. 1 player in history when the new Women's Tennis Assn. Tour rankings are released Monday. She replaces Steffi Graf, who missed the Lipton because of a knee injury.

In the men's draw, Jim Courier advanced to the semifinals by beating fourth-seeded Goran Ivanisevic, 6-2, 7-6 (7-2). Courier, seeking his biggest tournament title since 1993, will face Thomas Muster or Jonas Bjorkman today.

*

Dorothy Matthiessen of Pasadena has been named to the U.S. Women's 60 team that will compete against teams for the Alice Marble Cup in Adelaide, Australia, April 5-11.

Matthiessen, ranked No. 1 among senior women 60s, joins Nancy Reed of Winterpark, Fla., and Doris DeVries of Orangevale, Calif., on the team. Janet Hopps Adkisson of Bellevue, Wash., is the team captain.

Football

The bowl alliance reportedly has decided not to include a Western Athletic Conference champion ranked lower than No. 6 in the nation, and the WAC representative to the NCAA board of directors, Nevada Las Vegas President Carol Harter, has been directed to protest to the board.

The WAC had proposed that its champion be included in the Alliance if ranked in the top 12.

The alliance is a group of four conferences, representatives of the Orange, Fiesta and Sugar bowls and the television networks.

WAC champion Brigham Young, which finished the 1996 season ranked No. 5, was snubbed by the alliance and accepted an invitation to the Cotton Bowl.

The Big West Conference, apparently shut out of the Las Vegas Bowl, which is seeking a new format, will pursue establishing a new postseason bowl game for the coming season in Boise, Idaho.

The Big West has sent its champion to Las Vegas for the last five years to play the winner of the Mid-American Conference.

But the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority said it plans to drop its current conference alignments in favor of a game featuring a team from the WAC and an at-large opponent.

Soccer

One of Europe's top soccer referees, Kurt Roethlisberger of Switzerland, has been banned for life for allegedly offering to have another referee fix a Champions Cup game last year.

UEFA, soccer's European governing body, said Roethlisberger had contacted the Grasshoppers of Switzerland and asked if they would be interested in having a referee favor them in a match with Auxerre of France. Vadim Zhuk of Belarus was the referee, and the sum of $70,000 was suggested.

Grasshopper officials contacted UEFA, prompting an investigation which includes Zhuk, who has not been charged, but who will not officiate until he is cleared.

Roethlisberger, who has said his conversations with the Grasshoppers described in theoretical terms how a game could be fixed, has threatened legal action.

Miscellany

North Dakota, which waited 10 years to return to college hockey's Final Four, got first-period goals from Kevin Hoogsteen and Jason Blake 33 seconds apart and beat Colorado College, 6-2, in a semifinal game in Milwaukee.

North Dakota (30-10-2) will face either defending champion Michigan or Boston University on Saturday for the 50th NCAA championship.

National champion UCLA has signed goalie Nick Hill of Long Beach Wilson and two-meter player Sean Kern of Honolulu Punahou High to letters of intent to play water polo.

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