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Professional tennis comes to Burbank

Jeff Tully

BURBANK TENNIS CENTER -- In Southern California, to see some quality

professional tennis, a fan would usually have to travel to places like

Orange County or Manhattan Beach.

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But beginning next week, tennis enthusiasts need not travel further

than McCambridge Park to take in some pro action.

The United States Tennis Assn. Tennis Championships of Burbank kicks

off Monday at the Burbank Tennis Center and features world-ranked men’s

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players.

The event is just one in a Challenger circuit where players earn

points that go toward their Assn. of Tennis Professionals world ranking.

“This is the last big challenger event of the year, so we are able to

get some very good players,” said Tim Stallard, the tournament’s

director. “In fact, this is the biggest event of this type in the world

this week.

“It is great venue for people to come out and witness some great

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tennis.”

Featured in this year’s tournament is defending champion Cecil

Mamitt from Eagle Rock. Mamiit -- a former NCAA singles champion at USC

-- recently reached the finals of an ATP tournament in San Jose,

defeating Andre Agassi and Michael Chang in the process.

Also playing will be Alex O’Brien, the 1999 U.S. Open Doubles Champion

and member of the U.S. Davis Cup Team. He was also an NCAA singles

champion at Stanford.

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Another player who could be in the running for a singles title is

Australia’s James Sekulov, a member of his country’s Davis Cup Team. He

reached the finals of the 1999 Mercedes-Benz Cup of Los Angeles last

July, losing to Pete Sampras and defeating Chang and Thomas Enqvist en

rout to the title match.

Other players of note at the event will be Bob and Mike Bryan, Paul

Golstein, Marcos Ondruska, Ronald Agenor and Mark Knowles.

Although the main draw of the tournament doesn’t begin until Monday --

with admission ranging from $5 to $15 -- there will be tennis played this

weekend, and admission is free.

All day today and Sunday, the BTC will be hosting qualifying rounds

for the challenger event. Also on Sunday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., there

will be a pro-am event.

A portion of the proceeds from the tournament will go to benefit the

Burbank Center for the Retarded.

The BCR is a nonprofit agency that provides day and extended-day

programs -- as well as monthly evening dances -- for moderately to

severely developmentally disabled adults and children from Burbank and

surrounding areas.

“BCR is a neighbor of the Burbank Tennis Center and an important

citizen of Burbank,” said Burbank Tennis Center Executive Director Steve

Starleaf.

“We decided to donate a portion of the proceeds ... to help them

provide a safe, structured and supportive environment where participants

are valued, accepted and understood.”

Along with outfitting BCR individuals with sweatshirts, the tournament

will also sponsor demonstration matches for some BCR members on

tournament finals day -- Dec. 12 -- at 11 a.m.

The event is also sponsored by drkoop.com and America Online and is

hosted my Murad.


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