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U.S. Names Olympic Tennis Team

There are no surprises as the Williams sisters, Capriati and Roddick top list of those who will compete at Athens.

June 27, 2004|Diane Pucin | Times Staff Writer

WIMBLEDON, England — It was an Olympics kind of day at Wimbledon. The Olympic torch started an eight-mile trip through London on the grounds of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. Then coaches Zina Garrison and Patrick McEnroe named the U.S. team.

It was about the only activity, because all play was rained out.

There were no surprises on the women's or men's team. Garrison, a two-time Olympian who teamed with Pam Shriver to win a doubles gold as well as a singles bronze in 1988, announced Serena and Venus Williams will play singles and doubles; Jennifer Capriati and Chanda Rubin will play singles and 47-year-old Martina Navratilova and Lisa Raymond will play doubles.

Defending U.S. Open champion Andy Roddick, who is ranked No. 2 in the world, will be joined by No. 20-ranked Mardy Fish, No. 30 Vince Spadea and No. 31 Taylor Dent, along with the top-ranked doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan from Camarillo. Roddick and Fish will be the second doubles team.

Lindsay Davenport, ranked fifth in the world, chose to skip the Olympics to give her sore left knee a break before the U.S. Open, and No. 9-ranked Andre Agassi, the 1996 singles gold medalist, told McEnroe several months ago he did not want to participate.

McEnroe said he went strictly by the computer rankings in choosing his team, which includes the 29-year-old Spadea, who is a first-time Olympian. Robby Ginepri, 21, an upset winner over Juan Carlos Ferrero on Friday, was ranked No. 34 and said he regretted missing the team. "It would have been great," Ginepri said. "If we had waited until after Wimbledon, I might have made it. Next time."

Dent, 23, of Newport Beach, said he was "thrilled and excited" to have made the team. His cousin, Misty May, will be representing the United States in beach volleyball. "It's cool," Dent said. "I've been dreaming about this. Misty told me it's a great experience."

He also said he felt bad for Ginepri.

"I feel bad for Ginepri," McEnroe said. "I feel bad for James Blake. He was close as well but got injured. But I let them know a while ago that my plan was to go strictly off the ranking."

In 2000, Venus Williams won a doubles gold medal with Serena to go along with her singles gold medal. The only other woman to win two golds in the same Olympics was Helen Wills in 1924.

Capriati, 28, won a singles gold medal at the 1992 Olympics but hasn't played since. She and 2000 coach Billie Jean King had a falling out and Capriati refused to play Federation Cup or Olympic tennis for King. "Jennifer has been awesome with me," Garrison said. "I think my personality is more suited for Jennifer. I'm kind of laid back but stern."

McEnroe, who has never attended an Olympics, and Garrison said tennis belonged in the Games, but McEnroe suggested a team competition might make more sense.

"To me it should be more of a team event," he said. "I feel strongly about that. I know the way they do it in gymnastics, there's individual competition within the team. So the whole team can win a gold, silver, etc., then maybe the players, based on how they do in their own matches. Maybe it's U.S. against Germany in Round 1, then there's some type of round-robin format.

"At the same time I'm impressed at how excited our guys are. Honestly, it's all they talk about."

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