Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Women's event sells future



By Neil Schmidt
Enquirer staff writer

MASON - OK, Maria Sharapova won't be playing here next month. But a future Sharapova might.

"Sharapova was ranked No. 32 at the end of last year," Western & Southern Financial Group Women's Open chairman Paul Flory said. "That (kind of breakthrough) could easily happen to someone in our draw."

This inaugural tourney, which begins Aug. 16, will sell potential. As a Tier III event that conflicts with the Olympics, there will be few marquee names.

But in the announcement Monday of 21 commitments for the 30-woman field, no one is ranked lower than No. 92. Russians Vera Zvonareva and Elena Bovina, ranked 13th and 22nd, respectively, are the top entrants. Perhaps the most well-known name is No. 26 Jelena Dokic, a former top-5 player. The top Americans are No. 25 Amy Frazier and No. 29 Meghann Shaughnessy. At Wimbledon, Frazier upset French Open champ Anastasia Myskina and gave Sharapova a tough 6-4, 7-5 match.

The tourney is holding three wild cards. Big names such as Lindsay Davenport and Kim Clijsters are possibilities.

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E-mail nschmidt@enquirer.com




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