Friday, August 13, 1999


Red-letter day at the old tennis court

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MASON — Cincinnati Reds first baseman Sean Casey and outfielder Greg Vaughn attended Thursday's evening matches, along with pitchers Brett Tomko and Denny Neagle and catcher Eddie Taubensee.

        For Reds players, fresh off a road trip and set to begin a 10-game homestand tonight, Thursday was about their only opportunity to see any action at the Great American Insurance ATP Championship.

        Vaughn sat with his wife and two children in an end zone box, and Casey was also in a box.

        Reds limited partner Carl Lindner, who has an agreement in principle to buy the team, also was in attendance and was spotted sitting and talking with several players.

        AGASSI A LITTLE OFF: Andre Agassi didn't play world-beating tennis Thursday night. Just Novak-beating.

        Agassi's 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-5) victory over 42nd-ranked Jiri Novak was marred by his shaky backhand. Agassi made 34 unforced backhand errors yet persevered by winning the critical points in each tiebreaker.

        “It's not how great the great days are. It's how good the bad days are,” Agassi said. “Getting through tonight, when I was struggling, is big psychologically for me. Sometimes you need to know you can gut one out when you're off your game.”

        Agassi generally has been sharp the past few months, winning 22 of his last 25 matches, so he figured Thursday an aberration.

        “It's not fatigue,” he said. “It's more a matter of staying focused. If you're a little off, these guys are swinging for the fences. There's very little margin for error.”

        FULL SCHEDULE: Deciding on the time and location of the matches in the ATP is often a difficult task.

        After the day's results are in and pairings determined, ATP supervisor Mark Darby, assistant supervisor Weller Evans, Tournament Chairman Paul Flory and Tournament Director Bruce Flory hold a meeting.

        “The television people provide a wish list, but they don't attend the meeting,” said J. Wayne Richmond, ATP Tour executive director for the Americas. “Paul looks at what's best for the fans, and Mark and Weller at what's best for the players. If there's a disagreement, the final say is made by the ATP people.”

        Richmond knows of no major conflicts in Cincinnati over the years. “But whenever the weather becomes a factor, scheduling is very tough.”

        Although there have been two rain delays this week, the tournament is on schedule.

        ESPN will provide live coverage of Saturday's two semifinal matches and Sunday's championship finale.

        As a result, Saturday's evening match has been moved back an hour to 8 p.m. with Sunday's championship scheduled for 4 p.m., the lastest starting time in the history of the tournament.

        EXTRA TV: Because of the strength of Wednesday's afternoon schedule, ESPN decided to expand coverage from two to four hours.

        As a result, the all-sports network televised the Pete Sampras-Rainer Schuttler and Patrick Rafter-Nicolas Lapentti matches during the 1 to 5 p.m. time slot.

        Also, portions of matches on Court 3 and the grandstand court also were carried.

        ATTENDANCE: Attendance at Thursday's afternoon session totaled 10,305, bringing the total for the week to 107,134.

        Last year through the same period, 103,487 attended the tournament.

        Neil Schmidt and Dave Schutte contributed to this report.


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