Sports Briefs

Posted: Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Courier enters tennis hall of fame

Jim Courier loved baseball. As a teen, though, he took his ballcap and slugging skills to the baseline — and now he's headed to the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Courier joined Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and Michael Chang in dominating a decade of the men's game, and he was the first of that group to win two Grand Slam tournaments and the first to be ranked No. 1. Courier also was the first of those stars to retire, quitting tournament tennis in 2000, at age 29.

''I know I left the game at the right time for me. Physically, emotionally, I was just spent,'' Courier said in a telephone interview from California on Tuesday, when the hall announced that he, major champions Yannick Noah and Jana Novotna and tour administrator Butch Buchholz will be inducted July 9 in Providence, R.I.

''There's not room on our tour, on the tennis tour, for someone who's not passionate about it, someone who's just punching the clock. I felt that I was dangerously close to going through the motions.''

Courier, from Dade City, Fla., won 23 titles and earned more than $50 million in prize money and endorsements. He won French Open titles in 1991-92 and Australian Open championships in 1992-93, spent a total of 58 weeks ranked No. 1, and helped the United States win the Davis Cup in 1992 and 1995.

Facing deadline, Leinart still undecided

LOS ANGELES — With his self-imposed Thursday deadline approaching, Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart still doesn't know whether he will return to Southern California or go to the NFL.

''I have no idea. I'm just in a loop with all this,'' the junior quarterback said Tuesday. ''I don't know what to do.

''There have been certain times of the day when I think, 'Yeah.' Then my feelings will change and an hour later, I'll hear something or talk to someone and think, 'Aw, maybe not.' It's always back and forth.''

Chuckling, he added, ''I really have to get on the ball. I'm trying to delay everything but I realize I don't have much time.''

Leinart is one of three USC players facing the same decision. Linebacker Lofa Tatupu and punter Tom Malone, both juniors, also plan to announce Thursday whether they'll leave school. The NFL's deadline to declare for the draft is Saturday. Leinart has been bombarded with both information and opinions.

''It almost seems like an easy decision to people outside of USC, 'Why stay when you can be a top pick?' But it's really a lot harder than it seems to make the decision. There are so many pros and cons to both decisions,'' said Leinart, who started classes on Monday and could complete requirements for his sociology degree this semester.

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