The recent contretemps is the latest in a long-running, if petty, saga that resulted in Philippoussis skipping the previous Davis Cup tie (in which the Aussies were upset by Zimbabwe) and then Rafter dumping Philippoussis as a doubles partner. "Mark and I are starting to patch things up," Rafter said a week after the U.S. Open. "But it's hard to defend him when he offends a good friend."
Rafter, normally a preternaturally mellow fellow, is also agitated that Pete Sampras wasn't more gracious in defeat the last two times they played. Sampras attributed his loss in the finals of August's ATP Championships to a questionable line call on match point After losing to Rafter in the U.S. Open semis, Sampras noted that he was winning before pulling a quadriceps muscle, "He has become a bit of a crybaby" says Rafter, fanning the flames of a rivalry that men's tennis badly needs.
A Hot Prospect
Attention, Sergei Fedorov
Jennifer Capriati turned pro at 13, only to burn out within a few years, to be arrested on a drug-related charge and to become a walking, talking cautionary tale. But Rick Macci, who coached Capriati as a junior, has apparently learned little from her experience. Two weeks ago the Macci Tennis Academy in Fort Lauderdale issued a press release saying that Monique Viele, a top junior in Macci's stable, will turn pro after her 14th birthday this week. "We also are exploring the possibility of legally challenging the age eligibility rule of 14 that the WTA now enforces," the release adds. "We feel it inhibits Monique from making a living."
More disturbing than this announcement is the academy's breathless characterization of Monique, who's from Colorado Springs. At a time when the WTA vows to market its players as athletes and not underage sex symbols, the Macci release says of Monique, "She rivals a champion thoroughbred with her physical grace and beauty. Her long, lean, tanned, muscular legs are both an attribute to her good looks and her speed on the court. Her physique is astonishing...she looks more like a supermodel than a tennis player." Even her "sea green eyes" don't escape mention.
Monique's results are encouraging. By 11 she had a top 40 ranking in Florida's girls' 18 division, and this year she became the youngest player ever to win the 18 division of the Florida Open. But those credentials hardly mandate turning pro.
Macci sees it differently. "Her intensity level is scary," he says. "I see many Grand Slam tides in her future."