Under the watchful eyes of a vigilant bodyguard, Martina Hingis calmly eliminated American Corina Morariu, 7-5, 6-2, yesterday in the quarterfinals of the Swisscom Challenge in Zurich.
Tournament organizers said Hingis's clan had called from Filderstadt, Germany, last week, asking that security be stepped up after the five-time Grand Slam tournament champion received bizarre calls and faxes from a fan who was possibly stalking her.
Despite being confronted by a member of Hingis's entourage, asking him to stop calling, the man turned up to watch her play in Zurich.
The WTA Tour confirmed Zurich police had questioned the man--a 42-year-old Yugoslavian--after he appeared at a VIP desk Tuesday requesting an interview with Hingis.
"After Seles, every tournament has to take precautions," said tournament spokesman Andre Glauser, referring to nine-time Grand Slam tournament champion Monica Seles, who was stabbed in the back by a disturbed Steffi Graf fan in Hamburg in 1993. "We are taking it seriously even if he has never threatened her. We are very present, and we know exactly where he is sitting."
If Hingis was calm about her stalker, second-seeded Venus Williams was unaffected by her feud with Irina Spirlea, winning, 6-3, 6-2, in a second-round match. It was the second time the two players had met since Spirlea bumped into the American during a changeover in the semifinals of the 1997 U.S. Open.
J. Thompson Joins Turner Sports
Former Georgetown coach John Thompson is joining Turner Sports as an NBA analyst. Thompson, who has not ruled out returning to coaching in the future, will work a full slate of games this season for both TNT and TBS. He replaces Doc Rivers, who left the cable network to coach the Orlando Magic.
Thompson might be teamed with Kevin Harlan.
"I'm totally committed to doing it," Thompson said. "I have been looking to do something that kept me close to basketball, but this isn't something that I planned. They called me to audition." . . .
The Michigan and St. John's men's basketball teams will join Maryland and George Washington in the 2000 BB&T Classic to be played at MCI Center, tournament organizers announced. This year's event starts Dec. 4, with George Washington playing Seton Hall at 1 p.m., and Maryland playing Illinois at 4. The next night, the third-place game will be played at 7 and the championship at 9:30. . . .
The WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks named former Lakers forward Michael Cooper their coach, replacing Orlando Woolridge. . . .
Detroit Shock Coach Nancy Lieberman-Cline will be back for a third season after the team exercised its option in the final year of her contract. . . .
The Miami Heat's WNBA expansion franchise received 6,190 season ticket deposits, exceeding the league requirement and ensuring the team will begin play next year.
Figure Skating Tickets for Sale
Tickets are on sale for the World Professional Figure Skating Championships Dec. 10 and 11 at MCI Center. Tickets can be purchased through TicketMaster outlets. . . .
Four baseball authors--Peter C. Bjarkman, Kevin Keating, Wilmer Fields and Bill Gilbert--will sign copies of their books at the National Sports Gallery at MCI Center Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.