Thursday, July 8, 2004

Being on Tour leaves little practice time

Roddick's trainer, Spreen, ousted early

By Colleen Kane
Enquirer staff writer

Doug Spreen went from Centre Court at Wimbledon to Clay Court No. 1 at Lunken Playfield.

And he left both disappointed.

Spreen is the head trainer for top American tennis player Andy Roddick. After watching Roddick lose his Wimbledon final Sunday, Spreen flew from London back home Monday to play in the Thomas E. Price Cincinnati Metropolitan Tennis Championships this week.

On Wednesday, he lost to Brian Bailey in a match that was carried over from Tuesday's rain-out. He fell behind 6-0 Tuesday, frequently hitting out of bounds, and then lost 6-2 Wednesday.

Juggling two tennis careers isn't easy.

"I played horrible. I've hardly hit any balls the last two months," Spreen said. "You can't expect to play well without any practice. ... When I'm on the road, I'll go weeks without a chance to touch a racket."

Spreen became Roddick's trainer in January after several years with the ATP Tour. He said he occasionally gets some practice when Roddick is warming up but doesn't get a lot more than that.

"We were at Roland-Garros (in Paris), and I jumped out and said, 'You gotta give me a chance to hit a couple balls,' " Spreen said. "When he's practicing serving, I'll semi-retrieve balls and try to bunt one back."

Roddick's advice for Spreen in his fourth Met - the only chance he'll have to play competitively this summer - was to "go have fun." Now Spreen will head to Indianapolis, then Toronto and back to Cincinnati with Roddick before going to the U.S. Open.

"We'll get everything in order to overcome his Wimbledon loss," Spreen said. "He'll re-energize, refine and get rest."

Bailey, in his "fifth or sixth Met" didn't know Spreen was Roddick's trainer but said he "felt pretty comfortable out there." He advances to play 22nd-seeded Evan Webeler today.

So was beating Roddick's trainer just a step from beating the real thing?

"Not at all," Bailey said, laughing.

WOLF BACK IN SINGLES: Top-seeded Jeff Wolf began his first Met singles tournament in three years with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Sathya Varadachari Wednesday. Wolf, a multiple Met doubles and singles champion who is also the top doubles seed with partner Dan Kronauge, said he has returned for several reasons.

"(Tournament director) Karen Montavon told me it would mean something to the tournament if I played," Wolf said. "Two, I'm still competitive, and I wanted to do it before I turned 40. And lastly, I've played with a couple juniors and lost a couple sets and won a couple sets, and some acted poorly when they lost. It kind of irritated me. I guess I wanted to prove something to myself."

UNSEEDED UNSEATS SEEDED: In the only other seeded match of the day, Chris Pray defeated 19th-seeded Aaron McDowell 7-5, 7-6 (12-10).

UP TODAY: All of the matches originally scheduled for Wednesday that were not played because of Tuesday's rain-out will be played today, as will all of today's scheduled matches. Most of the seeded players will begin action today.

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