1996 Olympic Tennis Notebook
The 1996 Olympic Tennis Competition will be held at Stone Mountain Park, just outside of downtown Atlanta. The facility features a stadium court, two grandstand courts and 17 other courts with a potential for nearly 27,000 spectators.
For the first time, a bronze medal match will be contested in menís and womenís singles and doubles competitions. Menís singles and menís doubles matches will be shortened from best-of-five set matches to best-of-three sets, except for the gold medal matches.
Tom Gullikson and Billie Jean King, the U.S. Davis Cup and Fed Cup captains, respectively, were named U.S. Olympic tennis coaches for the Centennial Olympic Games by United States Tennis Association President Les Snyder on March 18.
Gullikson has been captain of the U.S. Davis Cup team since 1994 and helped the United States win its record 31st title with a 3-2 win over Russia in the 1995 final. Born and raised in LaCrosse, Wis., and a graduate of Northern Illinois University, Gullikson resides in Palm Coast, Fla. He is also a coach in the USTAís Player Development Program. Gullikson won 15 career doubles titles and one career singles title on the professional circuit. He was a quarterfinalist at the 1982 U.S. Open and reached the doubles final at Wimbledon in 1983 with his twin brother, Tim.
King led the United States to the final of the 1995 Fed Cup in her first year as captain since 1976. Born in Long Beach, Calif., and now a resident of Chicago, King attended Los Angeles State University for three years. Regarded as one of the greatest womenís tennis players of all time, King won 71 career singles titles, including 12 Grand Slam singles titles. She holds a record 20 Wimbledon titles in singles, doubles and mixed doubles and was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1987.
Olympics Tennis History
Tennis in the Olympics dates back to the first modern Olympics in 1896 in Athens, Greece. Tennis was a fixture on the program through the 1924 Games in Paris. The International Tennis Federation--the international governing body for tennis--and the International Olympic Committee saw differences on the definition of amateurism, which led to the exclusion of tennis from the Olympic Games as an official medal sport until 1988 in Seoul, South Korea. Tennis, however, was a demonstration sport in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City and the 1984 Games in Los Angeles.
At the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain, 16-year-old Jennifer Capriati of the United States was an upset winner of the gold medal in women's singles, defeating heavily favored Steffi Graf of Germany 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the gold medal match. Americans Mary Joe Fernandez and Gigi Fernandez (no relation) captured the gold medal in the doubles competition. In the men's competition, Marc Rosset of Switzerland captured the gold medal in singles, defeating Barcelona-native Jordi Arrese in the final. The German tandem of Boris Becker and Michael Stich won the gold medal in the men's doubles competition.
Contenders for Gold in 1996
Leading candidates for the U.S. Olympic tennis team in 1996 include Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Jim Courier and Todd Martin for the men. Monica Seles, Lindsay Davenport, Mary Joe Fernandez, Gigi Fernandez and Chanda Rubin lead the women's draw.
Two Generation Olympians
Olympic tennis hopefuls Andre Agassi and Lindsay Davenport are attempting to become the second members of their families to participate in the Olympic Games. Agassiís father, Mike, was a member of the Iranian Olympic boxing team in 1948 and 1952. Davenportís father, Wink, was a member of the 1968 U.S. Olympic volleyball team.
A maximum of four men and four women may be nominated by any one country for the Olympic tennis competition. A maximum of three men and three women may compete in the singles competitions, while a maximum of one menís and one womenís team may compete in the doubles competitions.
The 48 highest-ranked eligible men and women (according to the ATP tour and WTA tour singles rankings as of April 29) who have been selected by their national associations and national Olympic committees, will be accepted directly in the menís and womenís singles events. Any player nominated for the singles event will be automatically eligible for selection for the doubles event. The International Tennis Federation will select doubles pairs from doubles nominations received from national associations for direct acceptance, taking into account the playersí ATP tour or WTA tour doubles rankings as of April 29, and the number of players already accepted into the singles event.
National associations and the respective national Olympic committees will advise the International Tennis Federation of their selections to their Olympic teams by May 31.
U.S. Players of the Past
The first Olympic tennis competition in the modern era of tennis occurred at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles. The competition was a demonstration event and was composed of simply a 32-player menís and womenís singles tournament. Professional and amateur tennis players under the age of 21 were eligible for the event, which was won by Stefan Edberg and Steffi Graf. Beginning in 1988, full-fledged professional players were admitted into the tennis competition in its first year as a recognized medal sport since 1924.
U.S. Olympic Tennis Rosters Since 1984
||Mary Joe Fernandez
||Zina Garrison Jackson
Athletes of the Month
Chanda Rubinís comeback victory over Jana Novotna at the French Open and her historic 58-game match against Patricia Hy-Boulais at Wimbledon gained her acknowledgment not only in the tennis world, but in U.S. Olympic circles as well. In June of 1995, Rubin was recognized as the first tennis player to be named U.S. Olympic Committee Athlete of the Month. In March 1995, Rubin, along with her six American teammates, skipped the important Lipton Championships to represent the United States in the Pan Am Games in Mar del Plata, Argentina. Rubin left Argentina with a bronze medal in singles and a silver medal in doubles with Ann Grossman. Rubin was also a member of the 1995 U.S. Fed Cup team.
In July of 1995, Pete Sampras became the first menís tennis player to earn USOC Athlete of the Month. The U.S. Davis Cup team member became the first American to win three straight menís singles titles at Wimbledon, when he defeated Boris Becker in the singles final. Sampras, a member of the 1992 U.S. Olympic Team, was also a gold medalist at the 1987 U.S. Olympic Festival.
The USOC Athlete of the Month award was created in 1993 to recognize outstanding achievements made by athletes in sports recognized by the U.S. Olympic Committee.
Three Olympic tennis hopefuls--Chanda Rubin, Lindsay Davenport and Mary Joe Fernandez--converged on the United States Tennis Associationís Player Development Headquarters in Key Biscayne, Fla., on Feb. 8 for a video shoot for the ESPN show "Centennial Gold--Atlanta 1996." The three hopefuls were filmed working out on the facilityís courts and relaxing at nearby Crandon Beach and Miamiís Metro Zoo. All three hopefuls have trained extensively at the USTAís Player Development Headquarters, which is also home of the Lipton Championships every March.
With the world celebrating the 100-year anniversary of the first modern Olympiad held in Athens, Greece, it seems ironic that Pete Sampras, a Greek-American, is one of the favorites to win a gold medal in tennis. It is even more ironic when you consider that Peteís motherís name is Georgia. Both of Peteís parents immigrated to the United States from Greece.
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