Coaches expect top players to participate

Updated: February 18, 2004, 3:40 PM ET
Associated Press

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe and Fed Cup captain Zina Garrison will coach the U.S. Olympic tennis players at the Athens Games.

Garrison hopes her team will include the Williams sisters, who have been battling injuries since July.

"My first concern is about their health, as it is with all of the U.S. players,'' Garrison said Wednesday. "But I can tell you they are very excited about the possibility of playing in the Olympics and they want to play.''

With just one exception since 1988, the Davis Cup and Fed Cup captains have led American tennis players at the Olympics.

In 2000, McEnroe's brother, John, was the Davis Cup captain but turned down the Olympic job and was replaced by Stan Smith. At those Sydney Games, the U.S. men failed to win a medal in singles or doubles.

But that wasn't exactly a star-studded squad, with Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi sitting out. Michael Chang, Todd Martin, Vince Spadea and Jeff Tarango went a combined 1-4 in singles play, while the doubles team of Alex O'Brien and Jared Palmer lost their opening match.

The team for this August's Olympics should be much stronger, with U.S. Open champion Andy Roddick and the top-ranked doubles team of twins Bob and Mike Bryan expected to compete.

The American women fared much better in 2000, with Venus Williams winning the singles gold medal and pairing with younger sister Serena to win the doubles title. Also, Monica Seles won the bronze in singles.

Serena Williams had knee surgery in August and hasn't played since beating her sister in the Wimbledon final. Venus Williams returned to action at the Australian Open after six months off with a stomach muscle injury. But she has pulled out of two tournaments since Australia with a hurt knee.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press