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World TeamTennis returning to Newport Beach?

September 29, 2002

Richard Dunn

After an eight-year hiatus, World TeamTennis may return to Newport

Beach in the summer of 2003 with Lindsay Davenport as a player and

part owner of a team that would play its home matches at the

Palisades Tennis Club.

The facility at the Palisades Club, known as the John Wayne Tennis

Club until 1995, played host to the Newport Beach Dukes from 1990

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through '94. It was a highly successful franchise, mostly under Coach

Greg Patton, the former UC Irvine men's tennis coach.

Palisades Club owner Ken Stuart met Friday with WTT co-founder and

director Billie Jean King, WTT president and chief executive officer

Ilana Kloss, Davenport and a Palisades Club member, Don Evans, who

reportedly is lining up Bank of the West as a title sponsor. Robert

Van't Hof, Davenport's coach and the Palisades Club's tennis director

emeritus, was also part of the meeting.

"I'm pretty excited," said Stuart, whose club hosted a U.S. Davis

Cup tie in 1997 and senior tennis exhibitions in 1998 and 2001.

"Billie Jean King really loved the club and loved the facility. She

signed a lot of autographs and talked with some members, and also had

a good chance to visit with Lindsay (a member of the U.S. Fed Cup

team, of which King is captain) ... Billie Jean was very clear. If

there's a sponsor, we do it, and if this thing goes through, Lindsay

will definitely play for us and be a part owner of the franchise."

Stuart said he did not know what the potential team's nickname

would be, but indicated a community-wide contest is a possibility in

selecting one.

Earlier this week, Stuart said his desire for the new Newport

Beach franchise would be to fill the four roster spots with players

with local ties -- Davenport, Rick Leach (a Palisades member),

Natasha Zvereva (formerly of Newport Beach and Palisades) and Taylor

Dent, the 1996 CIF Southern Section singles champion as a Corona del

Mar High freshman. Davenport lives in Laguna Beach and is a longtime

Palisades member.

King told Stuart that WTT is poised to return to Southern

California and about a dozen other sites are being considered by the

league, which started in 1974. Jimmy Connors played for the former

Los Angeles Strings for several years. Sacramento has had the

league's only California-based franchise for about the past six

years.

"My sense is that (Newport Beach) has a good chance (of being

selected by WTT)," Stuart said. "I told my secretary that I had a

similar feeling in my gut when I was talking to (promoter) Russ Cline

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