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In Sports from United Press International

  |   Jan. 13, 2003 at 3:10 PM
Capriati out at Melbourne

MELBOURNE, Australia, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- Jennifer Capriati suffered a stunning loss Monday in the first round of the Australian Open.

Capriati, the two-time defending champion, was topped by Marlene Weingartner of Germany.

The third-seeded Capriati became the first defending champion ousted in the first round of the Australian Open with a 2-6, 7-6 (8-6), 6-4 loss in the first evening match at Rod Laver Arena.

Steffi Graf was the last women's title holder to lose in the first round of a Grand Slam when she fell to Lori McNeil at Wimbledon in 1994.

Second seeds Andre Agassi and Venus Williams recorded straight-sets victories earlier in the day.

Capriati came into the season's first Grand Slam in poor form, having lost her only match of the year at the warm-up event in Sydney last week. Her preparations for the new season were restricted by operations to both her eyes a week after the 2002 season-ending WTA Championships in Los Angeles.

"I would have to say the recovery time wasn't enough, and I feel like I just didn't give myself enough chance to fully prepare," she said. "Probably, if I wasn't the defending champion, I wouldn't have shown up. I probably should have considered that."

Capriati had pterygium removed. Pterygium is a growth of scar tissue and blood vessels on the sun-exposed surface of the eye.

The condition is caused from excess exposure to the sun, and makes vision cloudy.

"I think they're OK now," Capriati said of her eyes. "I'm getting back to feeling normal again. I would say a few weeks, maybe a month. I had the procedure done a week after I played in LA. I had pterygiums removed in both eyes and had stitches in both eyes. For two weeks, basically, I was in the dark because I couldn't be in the sunlight because my eyes were too sensitive. I'm not trying to make excuses, that's for sure, but I have to say it had a lot to do with my preparation for coming here."

Capriati has not won a tournament since the Australian a year ago, when she overcame excessive heat and Martina Hingis to win her third Grand Slam crown. She became the first woman to save four match points in a final of a major.

"In a lot of ways, I'm disappointed of course, but I've got to look on the positive side," she said. "I came here as defending champion and maybe I didn't feel quite myself, but I put myself on the line anyway, and I have to give myself credit for that, even if I went out the loser."

Capriati looked to be in charge against the 90th-ranked player in the world. She won the first set easily and owned a 4-2 advantage in the second, but soon wilted in the heat and humidity.

"Physically, I felt I started to get a bit tired (in the second set) and she just got on a roll there," Capriati said. "I felt the momentum swing and physically and mentally I wasn't quite there I guess."

Weingartner won the second set in a tiebreaker, and broke serve in the final game to record her first victory over Capriati in two meetings.

Other men's seeds in the top 16 winning on day one were No. 2 Andre Agassi, No. 4 Juan Carlos Ferrero, No. 5 Carlos Moya, eighth-seeded Albert Costa, No. 11 Paradorn Srichaphan, No. 12 Sebastien Grosjean, 14th-seeded Sebastien Grosjean, and No. 16 Sebastien Grosjean.

Joining them among the top 16 on the women's side were second-seeded Venus Williams, No. 5 Justine Henin-Hardenne, No. 7 Daniela Hantuchova, ninth-seeded Lindsay Davenport, No. 12 Patty Schnyder, No. 13 Sylvia Farina Elia, and 16th-seeded Nathalie Dechy.


Sullivan promoted by Cardinals

PHOENIX, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- Jerry Sullivan Monday was named offensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals.

He has been receivers coach the past two seasons.

Sullivan replaces Rich Olson, who was fired last week as part of a shakeup that also included the dismissal of General Manager Bob Ferguson.

"This is a great opportunity and I thank coach (Dave) McGinnis and the Cardinals' organization for putting their confidence in me," Sullivan said. "I like and trust the people in our organization, and I like our players."

Wide receiver David Boston blossomed under Sullivan's guidance, leading the NFL with 1,598 receiving yards in 2001, but Sullivan takes over a unit that was just 27th in the NFL in total offense last season.

Sullivan, 58, was the receivers coach of the Detroit Lions for four seasons before landing with the Cardinals. He also was receivers coach at San Diego from 1992-96.

Arizona was 5-11 this past season and has missed the playoffs in each of the last four years.


Conley to transfer out of VMI

LEXINGTON, Va., Jan. 13 (UPI) -- Jason Conley, who led the nation in scoring last season, has decided to transfer from VMI to Missouri.

The sophomore guard, who averaged 29.3 points per game as a freshman last winter, said he "needs to play at a higher levels." The Keydets play in the Southern Conference; Missouri in the Big 12.

Conley was the first player in Southern Conference history to lead the nation in scoring, and also was the first freshman to lead the league, and was an honorable mention All-America.

"We regret that Jason has decided to transfer," said Athletic Director Donny White. "We wish him the best in his future plans. Our coaches and team are working hard to prepare for the remainder of our conference season."

"I wish Jason the very best as he continues his education, and I am very proud of the kind of player he developed into while he was at VMI," said Coach Bart Bellairs.

Conley was the 28th player in school history to score 1,000 points, and finished 26th on VMI's all-time scoring list with 1,029 points.

This season, is numbers were 22.2 points and 7.3 points per contest. He missed two games because of a strained tendon in his right foot.

During his visit to Columbia, he attended the Tigers' contest against Centenary.

"I've been a fan of Coach (Quin) Snyder's ever since he was at Duke, and when I made my decision to transfer, Missouri was one of the schools that I had in mind from the start," Conley, a native of Chevy Chase, Md, told the Columbia Daily Tribune. "I really enjoyed my visit (to Missouri). I loved the coaching staff and the players, and I love their style of play. "As I was watching the game the other night, I could just picture myself fitting in on that team. I didn't feel the need to drag it out any longer. I knew I wanted to be a Tiger."

"It's hurting for us that he's gone," said freshman guard Levar Joseph. "We've got to pull it together. He was a big part of our offense."

The Roanoke (Va.) Times said Conley made his decision after a visit to Missouri last week. When he returned to VMI after that visit, he told his coaches and teammates he was transferring.

"We don't hold any grudges," forward Radee Skipworth told the paper. "I figured he would stay all four years because that's what he told me, but people change their mind and they feel they have to go their separate ways to make themselves feel better."

Under NCAA transfer rules, Conley, who redshirted at VMI, will be forced to sit out for two semesters, meaning he'll be able to play for the Tigers after the first semester next season and will have 1½ seasons of eligibility remaining.


Bynum going to Georgia Tech

CHICAGO, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- His mother says former Arizona guard Will Bynum will transfer to Georgia Tech.

Rose Robinson told the Arizona Daily Star that her son chose the ACC school over Oklahoma State. Initially, she told the paper that he would be heading to Stillwater, but he told her in a phone conversation late last week that he still had another school in mind.

That school was Georgia Tech, who Robinson said her son got comfortable with when he was recruited by the school as a senior in high school.

Meanwhile, Bynum told the Chicago Sun-Times that he thought all the speculation about where he would go was funny.

"I just sat back and laughed," Bynum told the paper. "I thought it was rather funny that no one talked to me, but everybody knew where I was going. I took my time in making this decision, and this is my decision, not what somebody else says."

The Daily Star reported that it was unable to contact Bynum, and the Sun-Times quoted Bynum as saying he chose Georgia Tech because he was impressed with Coach Paul Hewitt.

"We went there (Atlanta) to see Georgia Tech and he liked their program," Robinson told the Star. "He really decided and thought about it. Both Oklahoma schools wanted him."

The 5-11, 193-pounder, who was given his release from Arizona on Jan. 6., averaged 7.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in eight games (16.6 minutes per game) this season.

He shot 35.6 percent from the field and 35.1 percent from three-point range this season. In 39 career games, including 11 starts, Bynum averaged 6.6 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 1.4 assists. He shot 34.6 percent from the field and 28.1 percent from three-point range.

As a freshman, he averaged 6.4 points and 1.4 assists after an All-American scholastic career at Crane Tech Prep in Chicago, and was listed as one of the top 50 high school players in the country before being tabbed as one of the five recruits landed by Arizona Coach Lute Olson for 2001.


Sabres file for bankruptcy

NEW YORK, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- The Buffalo Sabres Monday became the second NHL franchise in two weeks to file for bankruptcy.

The Sabres' operations were run by the NHL after their previous owner John Rigas ran into financial trouble. Team officials filed a petition under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

The Sabres have been financially troubled for the past few seasons.

"This filing is another step toward the resolution of Buffalo's issues," said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. "It will enable the Sabres to secure financing that will allow them to continue to operate in the ordinary course, subject to League supervision, while the sale process was complete."

The sale of the team was necessitated when Rigas and two sons were indicted on fraud charges following the collapse of Adelphia Communications. The NHL has been supervising the financial operations of the Sabres.

Mark Hamister, a businessman who owns the Buffalo Destroyers of the Arena Football League, headed a group that submitted a bid to purchase the Sabres. The bid was accepted by the NHL in November, but the group had to secure financing. According to a report in the Buffalo News, the Sabres have more than $238 million in debts, with assets of less than $70 million.

Last Thursday, the Ottawa Senators filed for bankruptcy protection in the United States and Canada.


Lightning gets Grahame from Boston

TAMPA, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- Tampa Bay Monday acquired goaltender John Grahame from Boston for a fourth-round pick in the 2004 draft.

Grahame, 27, went 11-9-2 with a 2.71 goals-against average in 23 games. Apparently, that wasn't good enough for Bruins General Manager Mike O'Connell.

"We felt that it was time to make a change for the team," O'Connell said. "We gave John an opportunity, but we thought that we needed to try to get better at the position."

After failing to re-sign Byron Dafoe, the Bruins have used both Grahame and Steve Shields in goal this season. Shields is 9-7-2 with a 2.70 goals-against average in 18 games.

This trade will fuel rumors that the Bruins are on the brink of making a deal for a goaltender. Roberto Luongo of Florida and Rick DiPietro of the New York Islanders are among the goalies who reportedly may be headed to Boston.

The Lightning will use Grahame to ease the workload on Nikolai Khabibulin, who has played in 40 of Tampa Bay's 43 games.

"We believe that John Grahame is a quality NHL goaltender who provides us with stability and enhancement of the goaltending position," said Lightning President and General Manager Jay Feaster. "As we make the stretch run, both to stay atop our division and to qualify for the playoffs, it will be critical that we get outstanding performances from our goaltenders. John has proven that he can contribute quality starts and quality wins in this league."

Grahame, a ninth-round pick in 1994, has a career NHL record of 29-30-9 with a 2.77 goals-against average in 76 games.

Tampa Bay is currently the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, but is just one point behind first-place Washington in the Southeast Division.


Thrashers activate Smehlik

ATLANTA, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- The Atlanta Thrashers Monday activated defenseman Richard Smehlik from the injured reserve list.

Smehlik, 32, has missed the last 14 games with a contusion of his chest wall.

He has one goal and three assists and a minus-6 rating in 19 games for Atlanta (11-25-2-4), which is last in the NHL with 28 points and 159 goals allowed, and may be on the verge of hirin a new coach.

Smehlik also missed eight games from Nov. 21-Dec. 8 with a groin strain.

On Saturday, the RDS Cable Network of Canada reported that Bob Hartley is the leading candidate to replace Curt Fraser as head coach.

General manager Don Waddell has been serving as interim coach since Fraser was dismissed on Dec. 26.


Cajanek suffers leg injury

ANAHEIM, Ca., Jan. 13 (UPI) -- Rookie center Petr Cajanek of St. Louis is recovering from a fractured lower left leg.

He sustained the injury during the second period of Sunday night's 2-1 loss to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

Cajanek fractured his fibula in the second period when he collided with Mighty Ducks defenseman Vitaly Vishnevski behind the Anaheim net.

The 27-year-old Cajanek from the Czech Republic will return to St. Louis to be re-evaluated by team physician Dr. Rick Wright, but is expected to be sidelined 4-6 weeks.

Cajanek, the Blues' eighth-round pick in the 2001 draft, has seven goals and 23 assists in 44 games this season.


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