PARIS, JUNE 5 -- The second most intriguing game at the French Open is entourage-watching. There are some large ones here, but none larger than that of Andre Agassi, who takes six people with him.
They are his brother Phil, coach Nick Bollettieri, a friend from Bollettieri's tennis camp, agent Bill Shelton, a representative from Nike sportswear and trainer Gil Reyes, who is the latest addition.
Reyes is the strength coach at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. He was initially mistaken for a bodyguard because of his size and his mysterious looks, favoring sunglasses indoors, and outdoors regardless of clouds. "He just happens to be very strong, so he could do both if he needs to," Agassi said.
Agassi's legion is just slightly larger than that of 14-year-old Jennifer Capriati.
Capriati has her parents, her younger brother, agent John Evert and a coach. Retired mentor Chris Evert and her husband, Andy Mill, often join in as well. Since Evert sometimes has her own entourage, the question becomes whether cross-entouraging should be counted.
Paris? Totally Awesome
Capriati's youthful frame of reference is continually startling. She has taken in the Paris sights with an eighth-grader's wide eyes, and unschooled mind.
She was taken aback by the Notre Dame Cathedral. "I thought we were going to a football field," she said.
Perhaps it shouldn't be forgotten that a year ago Capriati was just another outwardly unremarkable kid. The hosts of autograph seekers swarming her here reminded her of the day she tried to get Martina Navratilova's signature. Capriati was a largely unknown junior player at the time, and Navratilova overlooked her outstretched pen in a crowd.
"She bagged me, big time," Capriati said.
Champion for the French Cause
The French have enjoyed one of their most successful tournaments in recent memory, largely thanks to Thierry Champion. He is the first qualifier to reach the quarterfinals here in the open tennis era that dates from 1968, and will meet fourth-seeded Andres Gomez of Ecuador Wednesday.
His presence coupled with that of Henri Leconte, loser today to Jonas Svensson of Sweden, was a good omen. The last time two Frenchmen made it this far was in 1983, when Yannick Noah and Christophe Roger-Vasselin excited the city by meeting in the semifinals. Noah went on to win. . . .
Michael Chang was introspective after his four-set loss to Agassi in the quarterfinals. Since becoming the youngest French champion at 17 last year, Chang has suffered a hip fracture and a 2-9 record before this tournament.
"I don't think it changed my life so much. It wasn't like all of a sudden I was wearing a mink coat," he said. "But it changed the perspective of people towards me, they were more curious to find out what this 17-year-old was about, what makes him laugh, what makes him smile, what makes him tick.
"Every week is a new week, every month is a new month, every year is a new year. I hopefully have a long career ahead of me and I'll have many more chances to win the French Open." . . .
The loss of top-seeded Stefan Edberg of Sweden and No. 2 Boris Becker of West Germany has made the men's tournament a free-for-all, with some odd facts resulting: There were four unseeded men among the eight quarterfinalists for the first time since 1946; there were four left-handers among them.