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TENNIS

Davenport Planning Her Own Ring Ceremony

November 01, 2002|Lisa Dillman | Times Staff Writer

Days after the hot-house environment of the U.S. Open, Lindsay Davenport -- an Angel fan before the bandwagon became overcrowded -- was planning to go to a game. Jon Leach, her boyfriend, looked alarmed. Nothing against the Angels ... really.

"He said, 'No, you're not,' " Davenport said. "I was like, 'We're supposed to go.' Then he was just totally panicked. I said, 'What's going on?' "

Oh, only a marriage proposal. Yes, she skipped the game. And yes, she said yes.

Davenport retold the story at a press gathering Thursday for next week's Home Depot WTA Championships at Staples Center. She laughed and said of the missed Angel game: "I really wanted to go."

It has been an eventful year for Davenport. She had major knee surgery in January, returned to the tour in July and lost in four finals. At the U.S. Open, she went out in the semifinals to eventual champion Serena Williams. She still achieved one of her primary goals of 2002 -- qualifying for the 16-player singles field at the WTA Championships, which start Wednesday.

"I still think I'm a little ways off from where I'd like to be, or where I can be or where I think I was," Davenport said.

When the season-ending tournament moved to Los Angeles from Munich, Germany, Davenport was one of the biggest boosters. But she didn't want to be watching from the sideline during a major event a mere car ride away from her Laguna Beach home.

To land a spot, she played three straight weeks in Europe, reaching the finals in Moscow and Zurich and losing in the semifinals at Filderstadt, Germany. Leach, the younger brother of tour doubles specialist Rick Leach and the son of retired USC coach Dick Leach, accompanied Davenport to the European events. She said they have not set a wedding date.

There will be another change for Davenport in 2003. She will be playing doubles with Lisa Raymond at the Australian Open and Indian Wells, for starters. Raymond and longtime partner Rennae Stubbs, who won Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2001, are playing their last event together at the Championships.

*

WTA Championships

* When: Nov. 6-11.

* Where: Staples Center.

* Who: The top 16 singles players and top eight doubles teams over the last year based on points accumulated at tour events.

* Defending champion: Serena Williams.

* Top qualifiers: Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Jennifer Capriati, Justine Henin, Kim Clijsters and Monica Seles.

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