Beginning this week, all eyes in the tennis world will be on the stars shining in Memphis during the men's Regions Morgan Keegan Championships and the women's Cellular South Cup at the Racquet Club. Among the luminaries in Memphis will be three of the current top-10-ranked men's tennis players and arguably the most recognizable woman athlete in the world.
American star Andy Roddick returns to Memphis to try to reclaim the trophy he last won in 2002. He comes off a recent run of excellent play: Last week he helped the U.S. defeat the Czech Republic in Davis Cup match play, and last month he had a semifinal finish in the Australian Open. He'll vie for the Memphis title against James Blake, who completed the 2006 campaign 6th in the world, the first African American to finish in the top 10 since Arthur Ashe. Defending champion Tommy Haas takes on all comers boosted by his own Australian Open semifinal finish.
Played concurrently is the Cellular South Cup. Sofia Arvidsson tries to make it back-to-back championships, but it's Venus Williams (pictured) who will be hogging all the cameras in the Bluff City this week. A sore wrist has plagued her of late, but when healthy, her racquet's as potent a weapon as women's tennis has seen since the heady days of Steffi Graf and Monica Seles. The stands might be the only safe place to be in the Racquet Club this week.
Regions Morgan Keegan Championships and the Cellular South Cup, February 16-25, The Racquet Club of Memphis,
5111 Sanderlin. Call 685-ACES (2237) or go to www.rmkchampionships.com for more information.