July 31, 1998


Former Champion Returns to Toshiba Tennis Classic

By J. Fred Sidhu



Steffi Graf


Steffi Graf, fresh from winning an exhibition tennis tournament in New Jersey, will return to San Diego to play in the 1998 Toshiba Tennis Classic, which begins tomorrow at the La Costa Resort & Spa, 2100 Costa Del Mar Road, Carlsbad.

Graf, who had reconstructive knee surgery last year, has been struggling with a variety of nagging injuries during her comeback.

Her ranking has dropped to number 57, but the women's tennis association has given her a special co-ranking of number 7 until the U.S. Open.

The former number one player in the world is a two time Toshiba Tennis Classic champion and has never lost a tournament match in San Diego.

When asked what memories she had from her previous visits to the San Diego area, Graf answered, "I always have a good time in San Diego. It's a beautiful place. My memories go back to spending a few days at Mission Bay."

Graf also enjoys the tournament location at the La Costa Resort & Spa.

"It's a beautiful place," she said. "It's one of the favorite of all the players; that's why they always have such a strong field because of it's perfect surroundings.

If Graf expects to win her third Toshiba Tennis Classic title, she will need to contend with the tour's teenage brigade which includes the tour's current number one player, Martina Hingis; Venus Williams of the United States and Anna Kournikova, the seventeen-year-old Russian.

"In general, it's great to see the young players out there. They seem to be enjoying themselves, drawing in spectators and making it more interesting," Graf said about her young rivals.

Can the older players on the tour compete a high level with the tour's young generation? Graf certainly thinks so.

"The so-called older players are still around and doing very well. I think we have the edge in experience. There's still a lot of time for us to be around tournaments and do well," Graf responsed.

One of the so-call "older" players Graf could possibly face at La Costa is Monica Seles, who has been a finalist twice at the Toshiba Tennis Classic.

"I have not been at enough tournaments to actually see her play, but she seems like she's doing better. Apparently she's in much better physical condition. If she's got her mind and her body in it, she will be really difficult to play against," Graf said.

Clearly, Graf is gearing up for the U.S. Open scheduled to begin Aug. 31. That is why playing the Toshiba Tennis Classic is important for Graf.

"It's very important for me to play tournaments and to get match tough. That's definitely my priority right now." she explained. "Physically I'm starting to feel really good about it."

"I felt I needed to play in as many tournaments as I can going into the U.S. Open," Graf added.

Qualifying rounds for the Toshiba Tennis Classic will be held tomorrow and Sunday, August 1-2. Tickets are $7.

The main draw begins Monday, Aug. 3. Tickets are $14-30.

For ticket information, call (760) 438-5683 or (619) 220-TIXS. Ticket and other tournament information is also available at www.toshibatennisclassic.com

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