July 30, 1999


Biggest Names in Women's Professional Tennis Headline TIG Tennis Classic

By J. Fred Sidhu

A new sponsor and one of the strongest player fields in the sixteen-year history of the event will highlight the 1999 TIG Tennis Classic.

The tournament, which begins Saturday at the La Costa Resort & Spa, will feature 18 of the top 20 tennis players in the world. "It has never been this strong," said Raquel Giscafre', co-promoter of the event, as she spoke about the depth of the field.



Venus Williams

Among the players scheduled to play in the $520,000 tournament, are defending champion Lindsay Davenport; four-time winner Steffi Graf; Venus Williams; Mar-tina Hingis; Mary Pierce; Monica Seles; Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, Conchita Martinez and Anna Kourni-kova.

This year's tournament will see a few changes. The most significant is the new sponsorship. Technology Integration Group (TIG), one of the nation's leading computer resellers, has replaced Toshi-ba as the official title sponsor.

The stadium court at La Costa has been enlarged to a capacity of approximately 6,300 seats. A tennis skybox, which is still available for several sessions, has also been added to the stadium.

Courts one and two, which are used mainly during the early rounds, have increased seating for a total of approximately 1,200 seats.

"If I were a tennis fan," said Giscafre, "I would try and attend the tournament Monday through Wednesday, because you can see matches not only on Stadium Court, but on court one and two as well?"

 

QUALIFYING NEWS

Once again, one of the best bargains of the tournament will be the qualifying rounds, which will be held at 10 a.m. tomorrow and Sunday. Four players from the qualifying event will advance to the main draw.

With the depth of the tournament, players such as former champion Jennifer Capriati; former French Open champion Iva Majoli; Anke Huber and Japan's Ai Sugiyama, who defeated Graf in last year's tournament, are expected to play in the qualifying event. Tijuana resident Angelica Gavaldon will also be competing in the qualifying tournament.

Admission to qualifying matches is $7, with 50 percent of the proceeds going to Youth Tennis San Diego. There will be no charge for parking during the qualifying rounds.

 

FUN FOR FANS

Kid's Day at the TIG Classic is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 2. Admission is free for all kids under the age of 16 when accompanied by an adult. Tickets must be purchased on that day at the Box Office window with both adult and child present. As part of the festivities, Kournikova will give a tennis clinic from 10 to 11 a.m. Fifty children will be randomly selected to go down on the court and hit a few tennis balls with Kournikova.

Fans attending the tournament will have an opportunity to play the popular "Match-It" game. A game where fans can guess the winner and score of designated matches during each day of the main draw until the semi-finals. Winners will receive prizes such as tennis racquets, computer software and even trips. Fans can enter the game by securing a computerized entry form from any Match-It staff member upon entering the tournament grounds.

In other professional sports, more and more athletes charge a fee for their autographs, but at the TIG Tennis Classic, fans can get them for free as the always popular autograph sessions take place in the TIG sponsor tent at 2 and 6:30 p.m. during the tournament beginning on Monday.

 

DOUBLES ACTION

In past years, many fans come and watch the singles matches, then leave when the doubles matches begin, but this year, fans might want to stay: Venus and Serena Williams will play doubles together, as will Kournikova and Hingis. This foursome met in the French Open doubles final and played a spectacular match before the Williams sisters pulled out a victory.

"A lot of the top players are playing doubles this year which should be an attraction for tennis fans. It will be a great incentive for people to stay," noted Giscafre.



Anna Kournikova

 

WILL GRAF RETURN?

Besides the action on the court, the tournament offers a variety of intriguing side notes.

This year's French Open champion, Steffi Graf, recently said she will retire from Grand Slam tournaments after this year, but she may play some of the regular tour events next year. Will this be her last San Diego County appearance? Only time will tell if she will return.

Martina Hingis will be playing her first tournament since her surprising first round loss at Wimbledon in late June. She comes to San Diego with a rare two match losing streak as she lost in the finals of the French Open prior to Wimbledon. She will be looking to regain the title she won here in 1997.

Teen sensation Anna Kour-nikova will be making her first appearance in San Diego County. She was scheduled to play in last year's event, but she pulled out with a thumb injury she suffered prior to Wimbledon. The 18-year-old Russian is one of the most popular and most photographed players on the women's tennis tour. In 1998, Kournikova was named at one of the "50 Most Beautiful People in The World," by People Magazine.

"Anna Kournikova is undoubtedly one of the most exciting attractions in women's tennis," said Gis-cafre. "her competitive drive and high-energy style make her a force to be reckoned with by every player on the tour. Our box office has been flooded with calls from fans asking if Anna will compete this year."

 

A TOUR FAVORITE

It's no secret the TIG Tennis Classic has become a favorite over the years among the players on the pro tour.

When asked about the tournament at La Costa, Davenport, the 1999 Wimbledon champion, said, "It's such a great atmosphere to play in. I love playing there because the crowd is really into it. I'm really excited about returning to play in San Diego. Last year I won it for the first time. It was great weather and great fans. I can't wait to get back."

Seles, a former number one player in the world, shared the same sentiments. "I'm very excited to be coming back. It's one of my favorite stops on the WTA Tour. They always get a great field and that's what the fans want. That's what is so exciting about women's tennis right now that we have so many exciting matches. I really just can't wait to be back."

Former singles finalist, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, also enjoys coming back to play at La Costa. "I think it's a great event. It's one of the tournament favorites for all the players. It feels like home and the atmosphere is great. The fans are always rooting and supporting you. I'm happy to be back."

 

GETTING THERE

Giscafre urges fans attending the TIG Tennis Classic to arrive at least one-half hour before the start of play each day during the tournament. She also advises fans to use El Camino Real as an alternate route to avoid heavy traffic on Interstate 5.

 

The 1999 TIG TENNIS CLASSIC

When: Tomorrow through Aug. 8.

Where: La Costa Resort & Spa, 2100 Costa Del Mar Road, Carlsbad.

Ticket Prices: Admission to qualifying matches (first two days of the tournament) is $7 per day. Tickets for the main draw, which begins Monday, range from $17 to $35.

Television: The semifinals will be televised on Fox Sports Net Saturday, Aug. 7 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. The finals will be shown nationally on Fox Network next Sunday, Aug. 8 at noon. Check your local listings.

Information: (760) 438-5683 or (619) 220-TIXS.

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