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Spadea chosen to play in Olympics

By DARRELL FRY, Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 10, 2000

NEW YORK -- Vince Spadea will replace Andre Agassi on the U.S. Olympic team for the Sydney Games, the U.S. Tennis Association announced Saturday.

Spadea, 26, ranked 133rd in the ATP Tour Champions Race standings, is quite a drop from Agassi, who withdrew last week to be with his mother and sister, who are battling breast cancer.

Spadea of Boca Raton was an Australian Open quarterfinalist last year when he reached a career-high 19th in the rankings. But he has struggled this season, enduring a 21-match losing streak that finally ended at Wimbledon.

He has some experience playing for the United States in international competition. He played Davis Cup in July, losing his only singles match to Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain.

"Vince is a dangerous floater who can beat anybody in the field," U.S. coach Stan Smith said. "The court surface is something he'll enjoy, so hopefully he'll do some damage there."

Spadea relished the news he will join Todd Martin, Michael Chang, Jeff Tarango, Alex O'Brien and Jared Palmer on the squad.

"This really means a lot to me," he said. "To be part of an event that is second to none is beyond my dreams."

GIVING HIS SEAL OF APPROVAL: As if "Super Saturday" wasn't big enough on its own, the day became even bigger when President Bill Clinton showed up for the matches. He was a guest in one of the box seats and stayed through both men's semifinals.

After Pete Sampras' win over Lleyton Hewitt, Sampras met briefly with Clinton.

"(He) just congratulated me, talked about the match a little bit," Sampras said.

Other notables in attendance included Spike Lee, Alec Baldwin, Ashley Judd, Gene Wilder, Ben Stiller, Judd Hirsch and Juwan Howard.

PETE HOPING TO STAY LOOSE: In the third set of his match against Hewitt, Sampras developed tightness in his left groin. Trailing 6-5, he summoned the tour trainer, who treated the problem.

Sampras said he planned to rest as much as possible before today's final. He didn't think the groin would cause him any problems today.

END OF THE ROAD?: Todd Martin hinted he might retire before next year's U.S. Open. Martin is 30 and a 10-year veteran. He has battled injuries this season but still managed to reach the semifinals. Asked after his straight-set loss Saturday if he would be back for next year's tournament, Martin said: "Yeah, maybe."

OUR OWN WORST CRITICS: Even though Martin lauded Marat Safin for his great play, Safin had a different perspective on his performance.

"I tell you, I was there. I was on the court and I said, "Come on, man. How can I play like this?' " Safin said. "I was playing horrible."

FUTURE STARS: Two Americans will play for the boys singles title for the first time in 15 years.

Andy Roddick, the No. 1 seed, defeated Mario Ancic of Croatia 6-4, 6-3, and unseeded Robby Ginepri got past Ytai Abougzir 6-3, 6-4 in the semifinals.

In 1985, Tim Trigueiro beat Joy Blake in straight sets for the junior title.

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