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Venus Williams nears Serena showdown
by The Associated Press
Jul 01, 2015 | 11 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
LONDON -- Venus Williams is no longer the player she once was, on account of the passage of time and the day-to-day ups and downs of an energy-sapping condition. At age 35, 21 years removed from her first professional tournament, Williams still possesses a dangerous serve, along with the muscle memory that comes with seven Grand Slam singles titles, five at Wimbledon. And so while it is her younger sister Serena who is ranked No. 1, has 20 major titles and owns a 23-match Grand Slam winning streak as of Wednesday, the elder Williams is still in the draw at the All England Club, too — and the siblings are closing in on what would be their 26th all-in-the-family matchup on tour. "She probably comes back here and, you know, I think, she almost feels like this is home," said David Witt, Venus' coach. "When you have confidence, you have everything. That's with any sport. And I guess when she gets here, it's a confidence thing." On the hottest day on record in Wimbledon history, with the temperature topping 95 degrees (35 degrees Celsius) — and a terrific day for American women — both Williams sisters won second-round matches: 16th-seeded Venus beat 95th-ranked Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan 7-6 (5), 6-4, while top-seeded Serena defeated 93rd-ranked Timea Babos of Hungary 6-4, 6-1. Two more wins, and the siblings will meet in the fourth round. "She poses a big threat for me," Serena said about Venus. They pulled out of doubles on Tuesday, citing "soreness" for Serena, who wants to focus on her pursuit of a fourth consecutive Grand Slam title. Four other women from the U.S. won Wednesday, including two real surprises: 158th-ranked qualifier Bethanie Mattek-Sands eliminated No. 7 Ana Ivanovic, the 2009 French Open champion, 6-3, 6-4; and 47th-ranked CoCo Vandeweghe, the niece of former NBA player and executive Kiki, beat No. 11 Karolina Pliskova 7-6 (5), 6-4. Also advancing: No. 21 Madison Keys, who finished off a match suspended because of darkness at 2-all in the third set a night earlier, and Sloane Stephens. A pair of U.S. men moved on, too: No. 17 John Isner and 105th-ranked wild-card entry Denis Kudla, who followed up his victory over No. 28 Pablo Cuevas by getting past 18-year-old Alexander Zverev. "A few years ago, I was being asked, 'What happened to U.S.A. tennis?' And I said, 'Well, it comes and goes.' I think there were a lot of younger players coming that showed promise," the 30-year-old Mattek-Sands said. "Sure enough, I think we have a really strong contingent of American players and it's really good to see." She is halfway to a calendar-year Grand Slam in doubles with Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic. Serena, meanwhile, is halfway there in singles, and so far this week has a pair of straight-set victories after playing five three-setters at the French Open. After dismissing Babos on Centre Court — where a small electrical fire in a mechanical room set off alarms once play was done for the day — Serena was able to settle in front of a TV to watch Venus finish off Putintseva. "I always root for Venus," Serena said. "She's been through a lot in her career. She's really playing well." So far at Wimbledon, that is certainly true, including a 6-0, 6-0 victory in the first round. Against Putintseva, Venus' 29 winners included seven aces, and she reached 122 mph (197 kph) on a serve in the final game. Venus last won the grass-court Grand Slam tournament in 2008; three years later, she announced that she has Sjogren's syndrome, an autoimmune disease that can cause joint pain and fatigue. Her nearly 2-hour match Wednesday was the last on Court 3, and wrapped up at about 9 p.m., by which point it was much cooler than earlier. The Met Office, Britain's official weather service, said the temperature reached 35.7 degrees Celsius (about 96 degrees Fahrenheit) at its closest observation site, about 1 degree Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than the previous tournament record, set in 1976. Spectators fanned themselves in the stands and used everything from hats to umbrellas to towels for shade. A ball boy collapsed during Isner's match and was taken away on a stretcher. One player, No. 27 Bernard Tomic of Australia, said he felt dizzy during his victory. Others, including Mattek-Sands, wrapped towels filled with ice around their necks during changeovers. "It's definitely hot, but nothing crazy. We have played in worse. I think it's just surprising because it's happening in England, where it usually doesn't," Keys said. "We have played through much worse."
UT enters new era with start of Nike contract
by The Associated Press
Jul 01, 2015 | 3 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee is opening its doors to the Nike swoosh while bidding farewell to the Lady Vols nickname and logo in all but one sport. Nike took over as Tennessee's main apparel provider Wednesday as part of an eight-year contract worth about $35 million in money and gear. Tennessee had been an Adidas school since 1997. Rather than holding a press conference to mark the changeover, Tennessee ran an hour-long video on its website in which student-athletes walked down a runway modeling the new Nike uniforms as music played. After each introduction, a Nike official explained the uniform design. "When Nike speaks, everybody listens," Tennessee football coach Butch Jones said on the video. "We're proud to be great partners with them moving forward." The new gear includes "Smokey gray" alternate uniforms for several teams. The football team's alternate uniform also features a gray helmet with a silhouette of the Smoky Mountains. Athletic director Dave Hart said on the video that seeing the reaction of the student-athletes wearing the new Nike uniforms "gives me goosebumps." Those new uniforms will only include a Lady Vols logo in one sport. Tennessee announced in November that all its teams other than the women's basketball squad would be called the Volunteers and would adopt the "Power T" logo used by the men's teams starting in 2015-16. School officials said they made an exception for the women's basketball team out of respect for that program's championship legacy and tradition established by former coach Pat Summitt. The move took effect Wednesday to coincide with the start of the Nike deal. Nike had conducted a brand audit of Tennessee that suggested maintaining the Lady Vols nickname and logo would be inconsistent with the university's "One Tennessee" theme, but school officials say the university made this decision on its own. The only remaining major-conference school to give all its women's teams a nickname different from its men's squads is Oklahoma State, which calls its men's teams the Cowboys and its women's teams the Cowgirls. While hundreds of fans were lining up outside a Vol Shop at Neyland Stadium waiting to buy Nike gear Wednesday as soon as the store opened, Susan Whitlow and Sylvia Billingsley wore "Save Lady Vols" T-shirts and collected signatures for a petition to preserve the Lady Vol nickname and logo for all Tennessee women's teams. "We have to fight for what we think is right," Billingsley said. "Ninety-nine percent of the people we ask about it, they say, 'Why is it going away? We don't understand. We like it.' By continuing on, hopefully they'll change their mind once they've had a chance to really think about it." The first person to get in line outside the Neyland Stadium Vol Shop was Rod Fair of Knoxville, who said he arrived Tuesday at 10 p.m. As the first person in line, he received a gift card for a free pair of shoes. "It was kind of like a spur-of-the-moment thing," Fair said. "I knew I had to get here. I just love my Vols and I love Nike, so I wanted to make sure I showed up." Tennessee's Nike contract actually is worth less financially than its previous deal with Adidas. Under teams of the Nike contract, Tennessee will receive an average of $950,000 per year in cash and a retail value of nearly $3.2 million per year in product. Tennessee also got a $2 million signing bonus. Tennessee received $1.95 million per year in cash and a wholesale value of $1.8 million per year in product in its most recent contract with Adidas. Tennessee associate athletic director Chris Fuller said the wholesale value of $1.8 million would equate to about $3.6 million in retail value. The Nike contract does give Tennessee a higher percentage of royalties than its Adidas deal. Tennessee officials believe its student-athletes preferred Nike and that the company's marketing muscle and popular appeal could aid recruiting and provide an energy boost. "These deals are a lot more nuanced than just looking at the baseline financial number," Fuller said. "I think this transition now will be a catalyst for our competitive renaissance. I really do. I think we're right on the verge."
NBA: Love stays, Chandler moves
by The Associated Press
Jul 01, 2015 | 1 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Kevin Love has unfinished business in Cleveland and Tyson Chandler will be conducting his in Phoenix. The first full day of NBA free agency featured skyrocketing salaries and a flurry of moves, though no decision yet from LaMarcus Aldridge. Players and teams agreed to more than $1 billion worth of deals. Love made his quickly, opting to stay with the Cavaliers on a five-year deal that could be worth more than $110 million. He revealed his decision in a piece in The Players' Tribune. "We have unfinished business and now it's time to get back to work," Love wrote. Jimmy Butler and Mike Dunleavy also stayed put in Chicago for around $115 million combined, and Goran Dragic is remaining in Miami. But plenty of players were on the move with salaries soaring ahead of next year's new TV contracts that might make Wednesday's action seem tame next summer. "I LUV that the players are bank rolling, capitalize and seize the moment," Hall of Fame guard and TNT analyst Reggie Miller wrote on Twitter. "Trust me the owners and the league are making money, so should you." Chandler will get his in Phoenix, taking $52 million over four years to leave Dallas, while Atlanta's DeMarre Carroll agreed to a deal with Toronto for $60 million over four years. Deals can only be agreed to during the first week of free agency. They can't be signed until July 9, after next season's salary cap is set. Aldridge was busy meeting with teams for a second straight day while he decides whether to leave Portland. His representatives wrote on Twitter on Wednesday afternoon that he had made no decisions, even following reports that the Lakers had been eliminated. The Spurs were among the teams hoping to land him and were making moves to entice him. They dealt Tiago Splitter to Atlanta to clear cap space and re-signed guard Danny Green, who got $45 million for four years. Aldridge was among the top big men available when the market opened early Wednesday morning, considered by many the best one who might consider moving. The Clippers' DeAndre Jordan was another top big man on that list. There had been speculation Love might bolt after one season in Cleveland, though he had said repeatedly he planned to stay. He said he had been in contact recently with management and his teammates, alluding to spending time poolside with LeBron James. "Yeah, of course I've heard the free agency rumors," Love wrote. "But at the end of the day, and after meeting with my teammates (it turns out pools are great meeting places) and with the front office, it was clear Cleveland was the place for me. We're all on the same page and we're all in." In a market filled with big men, the little guys were also getting theirs. That includes around $90 million for Dragic in Miami and $70 million for Brandon Knight in Phoenix — where he took over the ballhandling duties that Dragic handled before he was dealt to the Heat. Khris Middleton also received $70 million to remain in Milwaukee following his strong season. He and Carroll were two of the top wing players available and the Raptors paid well to get the latter, though they also lost forward Amir Johnson to Boston.
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Same sex marriage license issued
Jul 01, 2015 | 1 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Prentiss County has issued its first marriage license to a same-sex couple.
 For the full story on this and all the latest local news, pick up a copy of this week’s print edition of the Banner-Independent.
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