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USTA tourney offers up hope, competition


Tennis analyst Pam Shriver, just back from watching the Williams sisters dominate Wimbledon, came to Druid Hill Park yesterday to help announce the Women's Satellite Tour making its second annual stop here next week.

The United States Tennis Association tournament will begin July 18 and run through July 23 at the Park's new tennis complex, beginning at 10 a.m. daily.

"Whether competing at Wimbledon or here in Druid Hill Park, all events are important in the path of a pro tennis player's career," Shriver said. "The important thing is to see each player's determination and to see that they have a dream to play at the highest level.

"If you are an African-American child, the pure joy of Venus' celebration at Wimbledon, how inspiring that must be," she said, referring to Venus Williams' victory on Centre Court Saturday. "It's not about being a Wimbledon champion, it's about having a dream of your own - whether it's going to Harvard or Mount St. Mary's or the College of Notre Dame. It's about hopes for yourself and tying them in to what Venus did."

A number of officials spoke, including City Council president Shelia Dixon, director of Recreation of Parks Thomas Overton and David Owens, director of the Head Urban All-Star Tennis Academy. None had a greater impact than four children, Harold Fowler, Alicia Williams, and Rachael and Kevin Nixon, who range in age from 12 to 14 and are members of the HUASTA program, which will benefit from next week's event.

"You never stop learning about tennis," said Rachael, 14. "You can learn a lot more different ways to beat people, and people in the program can inculcate the desire in you to learn the game."

"I've known David Owens for a long time," Shriver said. "But this is the first time I've seen the kids in David's program. When you hear from a group of kids like that and hear how they speak, you can appreciate how tennis, education and learning responsibility all come together."

Shriver was one of the first to promote the Williams sisters, bringing them to Baltimore in 1994 for her charity tournament when they were 14 and 12 years old. And since Venus has been on the pro tour, Shriver has been her mentor.She helped Venus cope when her beads broke at the Australian Open last year and she was also there to advise Venus after

"Venus has good instincts and I just reinforced what she already knew," said Shriver.

But, Shriver said, after Wimbledon, "I told her she had graduated. Once you win a Grand Slam, you don't need a mentor anymore."

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