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In Sports from United Press International

Jan. 16, 2003 at 3:15 PM   |   Comments

Kuerten, Seles both lose at Melbourne

MELBOURNE, Australia, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- Serena Williams Thursday rolled to a 6-4, 6-0 win over Els Callens of Belgium in a second-round match at the Australian Open.

Williams had 13 of her 19 unforced errors in a sloppy opening set.

Meanwhile, Gustavo Kuerten, the 30th seed in the men's draw at the Australian Open and a former world No. 1, failed to get past the second round for the seventh straight year, falling to unheralded Czech Radek Stepanek, 5-7, 6-3, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.

In the biggest second-round upset on the women's side, sixth-seeded Monica Seles, a four-time Australian Open champion, wasted a one-set lead in a 6-7 (6-8), 7-5, 6-3 loss to Czech qualifier Klara Koukalova.

Local favorite Lleyton Hewitt of Australia, the men's top seed, had a much easier time of things in his second-round match, coasting to a 6-1, 6-0, 6-1 rout of fellow Australian Todd Larkham.

On Tuesday, Williams came within three points of defeat before overcoming Emilie Loit of France, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 7-5, in the first round. Williams, the winner of the last three Grand Slam events, committed 55 unforced errors.

She is looking to become the first woman to win four consecutive Grand Slam events since Steffi Graf in 1993-94. Graf also is the last player to win all four majors in the same season.

Kuerten lost to Stepanek for the second time in as many career meetings. The Czech rallied past the three-time French Open champion in the first round of the Paris Open indoor event last year.

Kuerten failed to hold up his end in setting up a potential third-round meeting with Hewitt.

Seles appeared in good form after surrendering just one game in her first-round rout of Lubomira Kurhajcova, but in this match, she was unable to overcome a sprained left ankle and 62 unforced errors.

Seles, 29, was making her eighth appearance at Melbourne, where she captured her last of nine Grand Slam titles in 1996. Her Australian Open record slipped to 43-4.

Hewitt required only 74 minutes to record a second-round win after qualifier Magnus Larsson of Sweden extended him to five sets in the opening round.

Hewitt appears to have bounced back after coming close to a second straight first-round elimination at Melbourne. Last year, while recovering from chicken pox, he became the first No. 1 in the Open Era to lose in the first round.

In an upset on the men's side, No. 13 Fernando Gonzalez of Chile could not overcome 59 unforced errors and suffered a 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 6-1, 7-6 (7-4) setback at the hands of Alberto Martin of Spain.

Also, third seed and 2002 runnerup Marat Safin of Russia converted half of his 16 break point chances on the way to a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 win over Albert Montanes of Spain.

Safin's sore right shoulder withstood yet another test Thursday. He had withdrawn last week from the quarterfinals at Sydney because he was unable to serve at full strength. He received treatment over the weekend and declared himself fit after practicing Sunday.

Safin was considered the favorite in last year's final against Thomas Johansson, but squandered a one-set lead and failed to capture a second career major.

Also winning in the top 16 were No. 6 Roger Federer of Switzerland, No. 7 Jiri Novak of the Czech Republic, ninth-seeded Andy Roddick, and No. 10 David Nalbandian of Argentina.

On the women's side, fourth seed Kim Clijsters recorded her 200th career singles match win in emphatic style, crushing Petra Mandula of Hungary, 6-0, 6-0, in just 33 minutes.

Clijsters dropped just 17 points to Mandula after losing only three games in the first round.

In addition, No. 8 Anastasia Myskina, No. 10 Chanda Rubin, 11th-seeded Magdalena Maleeva, No. 14 Anna Pistolesi, and 16th-seeded Nathalie Dechy also advanced.


Phelan to call it quits

EMMITTSBURG, Md., Jan. 16 (UPI) -- Jim Phelan, the long-time basketball coach at Mount Saint Marys, said Thursday he will retire at season's end.

Phelan, one of the most popular coaches in the country, is in his 49th year at the tiny Emmittsburg, Md., school, an NCAA record for tenure. He is third all-time on the NCAA Division I career win list with 824, behind North Carolina's Dean Smith (879), Kentucky's Phog Allen (876), and Clarence "Big House" Gaines (828). He has coached an NCAA record 1,339 games.

"The decision to step down was made much earlier," Phelan said at a news conference. "I had discussed it with several of my close friends and decided that the time was right. Certainly, healthwise I feel fine, but the energy needed for the virtual year-round recruiting just isn't there."

When Phelan, 73, a native of Philadelphia and a 1951 graduate of LaSalle, left his hometown in 1954 to become head coach at Mount St. Mary's College, he did so with one thought in mind -- he was only staying a couple of years. Forty-nine seasons later, he has guided 16 Mount teams to NCAA Tournaments, including five trips to the NCAA Division II Final Four, and the College Division national championship in 1962.

Nineteen of his teams have reached the 20-win plateau, one more than UCLA's John Wooden.

Phelan also can boast of two NCAA Division I tournament teams and one NIT bid. In 1967, Phelan also became an administrator as he was named Director of Athletics.

He served dual roles over the next 22 years, helping to lay the groundwork for the school's move to Division I in 1988.

Once the move was made, he resigned as AD to devote his full attention to the basketball program.

He assumed the title of "Winningest Active Coach" in the NCAA when Dean Smith retired in 1997. In the Northeast Conference championship game on March 1, 1999, Phelan became the third person in NCAA Division I to coach 800 college basketball victories, and put his team into the NCAA Tournament.

With the win, he joined Smith and Rupp on that exclusive list.

"I do not have to tell you the truly unique record Jim has established at the Mount," said Mount St. Mary's President George R. Houston. "I think it is safe to state it has never been accomplished before and will not be repeated again. This is a record, not only at the Mount, but also for the game of basketball itself."

His 1981 squad had a school-record 28-3 mark, losing to Florida Southern in the NCAA Division II Championship game, and Phelan earned the national Coach of the Year honors.

The 1986 and 1987 teams each logged 26 victories, and it was this surge that led to the Mount's move to Division I in 1988.

In 1991, Phelan served in the Korean War and played for the Philadelphia Warriors in the NBA and the Pottstown Packers of the defunct Eastern League. He was one of 15 nominees to pass the screening committee for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, and now is the only college basketball coach ever to reach 800 wins without a plaque in Springfield.

"It is an honor to have worked with Jim since I arrived at the Mount," said current Athletic Director Dr. Harold "Chappy" Menninger. "What he has accomplished here is truly incredible, and as the season progresses, we can reflect upon his numerous achievements."

Milan Brown, currently an assistant under Phelan, is the front-runner to succeed the legendary coach.


Rookie Challenge teams set

NEW YORK, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- Yao Ming of China and Pau Gasol of Spain are among a record six international players selected for the 2003 Rookie Challenge.

The game will be played on NBA All-Star Saturday on Feb. 8 in Atlanta.

Yao, the first overall pick in the 2002 draft, would miss the game if All-Star voting holds true to form and he is selected as the starting center for the Western Conference in the weekend's marquee event.

Yao is one of three international players on the rookie team, while Gasol, the reigning Rookie of the Year, heads the squad of second-year players. Each team was selected by a panel of 14 former NBA players and broadcasters that cover the league.

Joining Yao on the rookie team are Gordan Giricek, a native of Croatia who plays for Memphis, and Denver's Nene Hilario of Brazil. International players teaming with Gasol on the sophomore squad are Utah's Andrei Kirilenko of Russia and San Antonio's Tony Parker, who hails from France.

Other players on the rookie team are Chicago's Jay Williams, Miami's Caron Butler, Drew Gooden of Memphis, Amare Stoudemire of Phoenix, and Cleveland teammates Carlos Boozer and Dajuan Wagner.

Golden State's Jason Richardson, who captured MVP honors last year when the Rookies beat the Sophomores, 103-97, joins Gasol on the second-year players' squad. Other players on the second-year team are Chicago's Tyson Chandler, Richard Jefferson of New Jersey, Indiana's Jamaal Tinsley, and Gilbert Arenas and Troy Murphy, both of Golden State.

This is the fourth year of the current rookies against sophomores format. The rookies have won twice. The game consists of two 20-minute halves.

Other events on All-Star Saturday include the dunk contest and the three-point shootout.

The All-Star Game is slated for Sunday, Feb. 9 at 8 p.m. Eastern time.


Beebe resigns as Ohio Valley head

BRENTWOOD, Tn., Jan. 16 (UPI) -- Dan Beebe, Commissioner of the Ohio Valley Conference since 1989, has resigned.

Beebe has been named Associate Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer of the Big 12 Conference.

He was instrumental in helping the OVC host the first and second rounds of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament in 2000, and of helping the conference secure a bid to host the first and second rounds again in 2005.

Beebe improved the experience of the league's student-athletes by moving several conference championships to neutral sites in larger media markets, and has also enhanced the reputation of the OVC by taking strong positions on sportsmanship and fair play.

Under his leadership, the league developed and adopted a landmark sportsmanship policy, and he oversaw its implementation.

"The Ohio Valley Conference has been strengthened tremendously under Dan Beebe's leadership," said Dr. Kenneth Dobbins, President of Southeast Missouri State University and President of the OVC Presidents Council. "His many major accomplishments, including conference expansion and increasing television visibility, have been a benefit to all of the men's and women's programs in our league. In addition, Dan has ensured that the OVC was on the cutting edge in terms of sportsmanship, and he has represented the conference well on NCAA national committees."

According to Dobbins, OVC presidents will meet via conference call Friday, Jan. 17, to appoint an interim commissioner and develop a timetable for selecting a permanent replacement.

Beebe begins his new duties at the Big 12 on Feb. 10.


Phillies sign Houston

PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- The Philadelphia Phillies Thursday signed veteran infielder Tyler Houston to a one-year, $1 million contract.

Houston has made a career of being a valuable utility player, and has played for several clubs. He spent 2002 splittimg time between Milwaukee and Los Angeles, batting .281 with seven home runs and 40 RBI in a career-high 111 games.

Originally selected by Atlanta with the second pick in the 1989 draft, Houston came up as a catcher, but also has played first base and third base the last two seasons.

Houston, who turns 32 Friday, has a .265 average with 61 home runs and 239 RBI in 646 games.

His best seasons were in Milwaukee the last three years. He hit 18 homers in 2000, including three in one game. In 2002, he combined for seven homers and 40 RBI with the Brewers and Dodgers.

Philadelphia has been very active this offseason, and made one of the game's biggest coups by signing free agent first baseman Jim Thome on Dec. 3. Less than three weeks later, the Phillies acquired righthander Kevin Millwood from Atlanta for catcher Johnny Estrada.

They also have inked free agent third baseman David Bell.


Marlins re-sign Encaenacion

MIAMI. Jan. 16 (UPI) -- Outfielder Juan Encarnacion, who finally began putting living up to his enormous potential last season, Thursday re-signed with the Florida Marlins.

Financial terms of the one-year deal were not disclosed.

Encarnacion, 27, is considered among the most physically-gifted players in baseball. After starting the season with the Cincinnati Reds, he was traded to the Marlins in July.

Overall in 2002, he hit .271 with 24 homers and 85 RBI in 152 games, and also stole 21 bases. He hit .319 with six homers and 23 RBI in his final 35 games, and enters spring training as a starter in a revamped Marlins' outfield.

The Marlins refer to Encarnacion as a five-tool player because of his power potential combined with his speed and strong throwing arm. He had four assists as a Marlin and nine overall last season.

Earlier this offseason, Florida traded away Preston Wilson and placed Kevin Millar on waivers.

Encarnacion broke in with Detroit in 1997. He is a career .270 hitter with 77 homers and 309 RBI in 596 games.


Montreal brings Czerkawski back

MONTREAL, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- Montreal right wing Mariusz Czerkawski Thursday was recalled from Hamilton of the American Hockey League.

Czerkawski, who struggled in his first 25 games this season, had two goals and eight assists before being assigned to Hamilton on Dec. 28. With the Bulldogs, he had six goals and nine assists in nine games.

Czerkawski, 30, spent five seasons with the New York Islanders before being acquired for right wing Arron Asham last June. He has 179 goals and 193 assists in 611 career games.

Montreal (18-18-5-4) visits the Philadelphia Flyers Thursday night, and Czerkawski is expected to play.


© 2003 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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