In London, Doug Gratton writes tennis player Maria Sharapova “has reacted fiercely to questions over her loud shrieking today after being singled out for criticism as the high-decibel issue returned to the top of the agenda at the Australian Open.” Sharapova said, “You’ve watched me grow up, you’ve watched me play tennis. I’ve been the same over the course of my career. No one important enough has told me to change or do something different.” The WTA said that it “was looking at ways to stop young players [from] developing the habit.” The WTA said, “Everyone who watches tennis knows grunting is a part of the game, and we are aware that some fans find it bothersome. We are currently in the process of exploring how to reduce excessive grunting ... without adversely affecting players who have developed their game under the current training, rules and procedures” (THETIMES.co.uk, 1/25).
UPHILL BATTLE: ESPN DALLAS' Jeff Caplan reported Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban "said he will continue the uphill battle to make international basketball off limits to handsomely paid NBA players" after G Rodrigue Beaubois got hurt playing for France and F Dirk Nowitzki is now “nursing an injury and out of Dallas' lineup after playing for Germany.” Cuban has argued that NBA owners "should not be saddled with the full risk of their players suiting up for their countries in the offseason, and he said other owners agree with him but aren't as vocal in their opposition.” Cuban: “It's just the epitome of stupidity that we would allow ourselves to be used so other corporations … can make tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars.” Cuban said that he “tried to make it a topic of discussion during the collective bargaining agreement negotiations over the summer, but that attempt also failed” (ESPN.com, 1/24).
SETTING IT STRAIGHT: Richard Petty Motorsports Owner Richard Petty yesterday said that not re-signing COO Robbie Loomis “was a business decision.” Petty said that Loomis “was not fired, that his contract simply expired, and he still maintained a ‘personal’ relationship with the organization that has struggled financially the past few years.” Petty added that “all of Loomis' responsibilities at the track and shop have been re-assigned to other people.” He “did not rule out Loomis returning at some point, if it is financially feasible” (ESPN.com, 1/24).
RUMOR HAS IT: HOOPSWORLD.com’s Alex Kennedy wrote there “have been rumblings that this year’s [NBA] Rookie-Sophomore game won’t pit the two draft classes against each other, but rather feature two teams with a combination of rookies and sophomores.” Kennedy: “We’re hearing that two TNT personalities -- possibly Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal -- will assemble the teams from the pool of selected players and coach the squads, as well.” An official announcement detailing the changes “could come in the next few weeks, as All-Star Weekend approaches” (HOOPSWORLD.com, 1/23).