March 3, 2008 - 10:00 pm
The WTA Tour doesn’t have a Las Vegas stop. But there will be women’s tennis at the Tennis Channel Open this week.
The Hilton Cup, part of the United States Tennis Association’s Pro Circuit, will be played concurrently with the men’s ATP Tour event at the Darling Tennis Center. The Hilton Cup has attracted some solid players, along with three local competitors.
Scheduled to play are Aravane Rezai of France, who reached the third round at Wimbledon last year; Joana Olaru of Romania, who reached the third round of the French Open last year; and Camille Pin of France, who has played 21 matches in Grand Slam events.
Also, wild-card entries were granted to Las Vegas teenager Asia Muhammad and Catrina and Christian Thompson, who attended Bishop Gorman High School and are recent graduates of Notre Dame. Muhammad will play singles with the Thompsons playing doubles.
The Hilton Cup, which has a total purse of $50,000, begins at 10 a.m. Tuesday. The championship is at 10 a.m. Sunday.
• OSCAR THE ODDSMAKER — Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman makes no secret that he loves to bet on sports. But he had tournament officials cringing at Friday’s draw when he called Lleyton Hewitt his even-money choice to win and telling American John Isner he’s making him 7-to-1.
Perhaps the mayor wasn’t aware of the betting scandal men’s tennis is dealing with. Tournament director David Egdes gently reminded Goodman that the players aren’t permitted to bet on tennis.
But that won’t stop the public from taking a stab. The Las Vegas Hilton made Fernando Gonzalez the 5-2 favorite with Marcos Baghdatis next at 5-1. Hewitt is 6-1 and Robin Soderling at 7-1.
Benjamin Becker and Ernests Gulbis are the long shots in the field, both at 40-1.
• NEW BALLS, PLEASE — After using Wilson balls the first two years, the tournament has switched to Prince for this year and next. The players couldn’t seem to care less.
“A ball’s a ball,” Sam Querrey said. “The wind is the bigger issue.”
Robby Ginepri, who practiced with Querrey on Sunday, said, “The Wilson ball may be a little lighter but it won’t impact anything. All the players will adjust after a day or two.”
• HAWK-EYE IS BACK — The Hawk-Eye instant replay system is back. The computerized system, which has cameras placed around the court to track the ball, will be used on all stadium court matches. Players are allowed two challenges per set.