SBJ/June 12 - 18, 2000/Marketingsponsorship

Better late than never: Octagon signs Morrison

Octagon signed top U.S. collegiate tennis player Jeff Morrison.

The signing came even as the dearth of young U.S. tennis players was on display in Paris, where all American men and women were knocked out of the French Open by the second week of play — the first time in 33 years that's happened.

"He is the best [collegiate] young American player really," said Peter Lawler, director of tennis for Octagon.

Nonetheless, Morrison is already 21, old by tennis standards. He won the NCAA singles title last year as a University of Florida sophomore and entered this year's tournament as the No. 1 seed, losing in the semifinals.

Octagon and the U.S. Tennis Association are discussing the best approach for Morrison to take professionally. This summer he will likely play on the U.S. minor league circuit. The results will dictate whether he moves up to ATP Tour tournaments.

Octagon plans to get Morrison shoe and racket endorsement deals, though any remuneration he receives from such transactions would almost surely be minimal.

Most young tennis players forgo college for junior tennis, or, if they are good enough, turn pro at an early age. But Lawler described Morrison as a late bloomer, akin to Todd Martin, one of America's top professional players.

Even Octagon's competitors praised Morrison's potential.

"The kid's a player," said SFX Sports Group's Ken Meyerson, who said SFX did not compete to sign Morrison. "We need as many American players as possible out there."

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