SBJ/August 19 - 25, 2002/Labor Agents

Tennis player Peng Shuai lands with IMG

IMG has signed Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai in the latest chapter in the 16-year-old's tangled sports odyssey.

China's Peng Shuai is working on her game at IMG facilities in Florida.

A product of the Chinese Tennis Association, an arm of the communist government in Beijing, Peng was essentially auctioned off last year to the highest bidder, which was now-defunct Sports Marketing Consultants.

Sports Marketing Consultants promised the Chinese Tennis Association more than $2 million to secure Peng's representation. But the deal unraveled this summer because the agency couldn't deliver on the promised revenue.

Sports Marketing Consultants' phone number is disconnected, as is CEO Howard Jaffe's cell phone number. Calls to Jaffe's home in Indianapolis were not returned. Several sources, including the company's former publicist, Rhonda Price, say the firm is no longer in business.

Peng has been training for five weeks at IMG's Florida facilities.

"People are excited about her, but for us our No. 1 priority is to get her in an environment to start developing," said agent Max Eisenbud, who will represent Peng with his colleague, John Cappo, who is based in Taiwan. "The deals will come down the road."

Peng reached a junior ranking high of 35 last September, but now resides at 328.

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