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Garrison Selected U.S. Fed Cup Team Captain

From Staff and Wire Reports

Zina Garrison will replace Billie Jean King as captain of the United States Fed Cup team next season, the Associated Press learned Monday.

Garrison, the 1990 Wimbledon runner-up, was appointed for one year by the president of the U.S. Tennis Assn. Her hiring was to be announced today.

“I paid my dues,” Garrison told AP in a telephone interview. “I learned a lot each and every year working with Billie Jean.”

Garrison becomes the country’s first black Fed Cup captain in the event’s 40-year history.

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King is stepping aside after leading the U.S. to three Fed Cup titles since 1995, but her tenure was marked by conflicts with players. She will stay with the team as an assistant, the same position Garrison held since 1999.

“I did a sampling of players -- that would be one factor entering into it. And it’s my firm conviction that Zina is ready to take the next step,” USTA President Alan Schwartz said. “There comes a time when transition makes sense. Billie Jean herself said this was the time.”

The U.S. plays at Slovenia in the first round of the 2004 Fed Cup on April 24-25.

The Americans lost to France in the 2003 final. That U.S. team was depleted by injuries and player disagreements with King, leaving it without such stars as Venus and Serena Williams, Jennifer Capriati and Lindsay Davenport.

King’s most publicized flap involved Capriati. She was kicked off the team on the eve of a 2002 match, when King didn’t want Capriati to practice on her own with her father. The U.S. lost to heavy underdog Austria.

King also said Davenport wouldn’t be allowed to participate in a Fed Cup series this year because the player was going to arrive late after her mother had surgery.

“I’ve had a wonderful run as U.S. Fed Cup captain,” King said in a statement. “Women’s international team tennis competition is a passion of mine and one that requires a major commitment. It is with great pleasure that I fully support the USTA’s decision to select Zina, who I am convinced is the most capable person to lead the team to a championship.”

Garrison, 40, was ranked in the top 10 from 1983 to 1990, peaking at No. 4. She retired in 1997 with 37 titles -- 14 singles, 20 doubles and three mixed doubles.

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Miscellany

Elli Ochowicz and Casey FitzRandolph won 1,000-meter races to earn women’s and men’s sprint titles in the U.S. Speedskating Long Track Championship at West Allis, Wis.

Ochowicz and FitzRandolph, winner of the 500-meter race in the Salt Lake City Olympics, swept all four races in the sprint competition -- two 500- and two 1,000-meter races over three days.

It was the first national championship for Ochowicz. FitzRandolph won his fifth title and first since 2001.

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Washington softball Coach Teresa Wilson was reassigned by the school, the most significant fallout from a scandal involving a former team doctor who handed out narcotics to players.

Athletic Director Barbara Hedges said Wilson’s assistants Scott Centala and Steve Daily will run the team on an interim basis. Wilson, in her 11th season as coach, guided the Huskies to the College World Series six times.

State health investigators in October suspended the license of Dr. William Scheyer. Investigators determined that he improperly prescribed and dispensed large quantities of narcotics, tranquilizers and other prescription drugs to the school’s softball players in recent years.

The Washington State Patrol and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, under guidance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, have opened a criminal investigation.

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The U.S. paid $800,000 in dues to the World Anti-Doping Agency, avoiding penalties that might have included a ban on New York City’s bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics.

WADA President Dick Pound had accused the White House of showing no interest in the fight against performance-enhancing drugs in sports. But on Monday he called the payment a “very encouraging sign of the commitment this government is willing to make to the fight against doping.”

Pound previously said the U.S., Italy and Ukraine were among the major countries yet to pay annual dues to WADA, which is jointly funded by the Olympic sports movement and national governments. The agency was created in 1999 to spearhead global drug testing.

David Baker agreed to a contract extension and will remain as commissioner of the Arena Football League through 2007. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

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Former seven-time NBA rebounding champion Dennis Rodman has signed with the Long Beach Jam of the ABA and hopes to play his first game with the team Jan. 16.

The International Olympic Committee accepted Britain’s insistence that Prime Minister Tony Blair did not break ethics rules by promoting London’s bid for the 2012 Olympics at a Commonwealth summit.

The IOC’s ethics commission wrote to British IOC members suggesting that Blair had violated the ban on international lobbying during a meeting in Nigeria in early December.

The nine bid cities, including Paris and New York, are barred from engaging in international promotion until the candidates are officially accepted in May.

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Blair was the host of a “sports breakfast” in Nigeria, citing the success of the 2002 Commonwealth Games at Manchester, England, as having “inspired” London’s Olympic bid.

About two-dozen IOC members come from Commonwealth countries, a significant bloc of the committee’s 100-plus voting delegates.

Passings

Former Boston University player and Boston Celtic draft pick Steve Wright died because of complications from cancer, school officials said. He was 45.

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Wright scored 1,641 points, fourth on the school’s career scoring list. He was inducted into the school’s athletic hall of fame in 1988.


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