Mike Tice named Vikings coach
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn., Jan. 10 (UPI) -- Mike Tice, who filled in for the departed Dennis Green at the helm of the Minnesota Vikings in their final game last Sunday, was named Thursday to succeed Green as head coach.
It appeared the Vikings made no serious inquiries about going outside the organization to find a successor.
"I think it's important that we maintain some continuity," Tice said. "Change is good, but too much change is not good."
Tice has been coaching the Vikings offensive line for the last five seasons and was in charge of the team in Monday's 19-3 loss to the Baltimore Ravens that concluded a 5-11 season.
There had been speculation that Vikings owner Red McCombs would consider waiting to see whether Tampa Bay Buccaneers Coach Tony Dungy would be available. Instead, McCombs chose a candidate with no previous head coaching experience but one who has the respect of his players.
Hornets appear ready to move
CHARLOTTE, N.C., Jan. 10 (UPI) -- The Charlotte Hornets of the NBA appeared Thursday to be headed for New Orleans. The Charlotte Observer said Hornets co-owner Ray Wooldridge said Wednesday night he is closing in on a deal to make the move.
The Observer reported Wooldridge told the New Orleans Times-Picayune that he was "very optimistic about concluding a successful deal."
.Wooldridge plans to spend the rest of the week in New Orleans, where city officials are reportedly offering a deal so lucrative that other cities might find it impossible to match.
The Times-Picayune Wednesday quoted a lawmaker as saying the state is willing to commit between $4 million and $5 million a year to the Hornets for at least 10 years.
Wells officially is a Yankee again
NEW YORK, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- The New York Yankees made their long-rumored deal with David Wells official on Thursday, bringing back the free-agent lefthander by signing him to a two-year contract.
Financial terms were not disclosed for the deal, which includes a club option for 2004. The Arizona Daily Star reported Dec. 28 that Wells is guaranteed $2 million this season and $3 million in 2003, with another $4 million a year available in incentives.
Wells, who recently underwent back surgery, was courted by the World Series champion Arizona Diamondbacks before heading back to the team that traded him away after the 1998 season.
"David Wells is a winner and he belongs in pinstripes," Yankees owner George Steinbrenner said. "I realize he is coming off back surgery, but I believe he will continue to devote himself
fully to his performance. People may say we're going out on a limb, but we'll see. We're betting on the Boomer."
Penguins' Lemieux returning to ice
PITTSBURGH, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- With the Pittsburgh Penguins floundering in his absence, superstar center Mario Lemieux will make his long-awaited return this weekend.
A hip injury has forced the owner and captain of the Penguins to miss the last 23 games, and he will sit out one more when Pittsburgh plays at Buffalo on Thursday night.
The Penguins announced Thursday that Lemieux, who skated with the team this week, will return for a home game Saturday against the St. Louis Blues.
Pittsburgh is 2-9-2 in its last 13 games and has fallen into last place in the Atlantic Division with a 15-20-5-2 record.
Lemieux had torn and damaged cartilage removed from his hip and has been out of the lineup since Nov. 14.
Top seed toppled in Tasmanian
HOBART, Australia, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- Spain's Anabel Medina Garrigues ousted top-seeded and defending champion Rita Grande of Italy Thursday, 6-2, 6-2, to reach the semifinals of the $110,000 ANZ Tasmanian international tennis tournament.
The win came one day after Medina Garrigues defeated former Australian Open champion Mary Pierce. The 19-year-old Spaniard's next foe will be seventh seed Amy Frazier, who outlasted doubles partner Janette Husarova of Slovakia, 6-2, 5-7, 6-2.
Eighth seed Nicole Pratt of Australia advanced with a 6-4, 7-6 (7-3) triumph over No. 5 Meilen Tu of the United States.
Slovakia's Martina Sucha nailed down the last semifinal spot by rallying for a 1-6, 7-5, 6-4 victory over Russia's Alina Jidkova.
Thai star reaches Canberra semis
France was upset Thursday at the $110,000 Canberra Women's Classic.
Tanasugarn swept past sixth seed Patty Schnyder of Switzerland, 6-2, 6-4, as she tries for her first career WTA Tour title.
Ranked 29th in the world and seeded 26th at next week's Australian Open, Tanasugarn will face Lilia Osterloh of the United States in Friday's semifinals.
Osterloh outlasted Dechy, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, in a 2 1/2-hour match.
Top seeds lose in Heineken Open
AUCKLAND, New Zealand, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- Sixth seed Greg Rusedski of Britain downed second seed Goran Ivanisevic of Croatia on a busy Thursday to reach the semifinals of the $357,000 Heineken Open.
Rusedski first had to complete a 5-7, 7-5, 6-4 victory over Michal Tabara of the Czech Republic in a match halted by rain Wednesday. Hours later, he defeated Ivanisevic, the Wimbledon champion, 6-2, 0-6, 6-3, in a battle of two of the ATP Tour's hardest servers.
Of the four players forced into double duty, Rusedski and Switzerland's Michel Kratchovil were the only ones to reach the semifinals. Kratchovil swept past local favorite Mark Nielsen of New Zealand, 6-3, 6-2, then outlasted Argentina's David Nalbandian, 2-6, 6-1, 7-5, in the quarterfinals.
Hingis, Clijsters advance in adidas
SYDNEY, Australia, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- Martina Hingis and Kim Clijsters advanced to the semifinals and moved closer to personal milestones on Thursday at the adidas International tennis event.
Hingis, the second seed from Switzerland, defeated seventh seed Sandrine Testud of France, 6-4, 6-2, while Clijsters, the third seed, outlasted fifth-seed Justine Henin, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2, in a
battle of players from Belgium.
Friday's semifinal will feature Hingis seeking her 500th professional singles victory. Clijsters will earn her 200th winif she can defeat Hingis.
Eighth seed Meghann Shaughnessy moved into the semifinals by topping fellow American Alexandra Stevenson 6-4, 6-1.
eldredge, Goebel in rare skating tie
LOS ANGELES,Jan. 10 (UPI) -- Veteran Todd Eldredge and defending champion Timothy Goebel try to break a rare tie when they compete Thursday night at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.
Elredge and Goebel concluded Tuesday's short program in the first tie for first place at the nationals since 1991, when school figures were abolished.
The free skate, worth two-thirds of the score, will be contested on Thursday night and determine the men's champion.
Thursday's schedule also includes the short program of the women's competition, which accounts for one-third of the final
score. The top three finishers will earn a berth to Salt Lake City.