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O.C.'s Dent to Face Agassi on Center Stage

June 23, 2000|DAVE McKIBBEN

Taylor Dent of Newport Beach, predicted by some to be the next great American men's tennis star, will play Andre Agassi in the first round of Wimbledon next week.

Dent, 19, ranked 226, lost only one set in three rounds of qualifying. Thursday, he reached his first Wimbledon main draw with a 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) victory over 199th-ranked Lars Burgsmuller of Germany.

Dent, who won the Southern Section singles title as a freshman at Corona del Mar High, has struggled since turning professional two years ago. But he has been playing well lately, especially on grass.

Last week, he reached the quarterfinals of the Surbiton Challenger in England. In the first round, he upset Sweden's Jonas Bjorkman, who 2 1/2 years ago was the world's fourth-ranked player.

Dent, who plays a serve-and-volley game, is coached by his father, Australian Phil Dent, who was a finalist at the Australian Open in 1974. Dent has played in the last two U.S. Opens, compiling a 1-2 record.

Dent might be catching Agassi at the right time and on the right surface. Agassi, 30, lost in the second round of the French Open to 61st-ranked Karol Kucera of Slovakia. He retired during the Queens Club, a Wimbledon tuneup, in the second round last week after tripping and injuring his back.

Wimbledon begins Monday, but match schedules haven't been released. The Agassi-Dent match will be played Monday or Tuesday, probably on Centre Court.

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