Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Martina Hingis-Maria Sharapova clinic in Manila

Sharapova, Hingis coming to town

By Joaquin Henson
The Philippine Star

Negotiations are underway to bring tennis stars Maria Sharapova and Martina Hingis to Manila in November and Team Asia’s Joey Fornier told The Star yesterday it’s 70 percent sure the three-day, two-night visit will push through.

Sharapova, 19, is guaranteed at least P6.5 Million and Hingis, 25, P2.5 Million to appear in separate three-hour clinics and play in a best-of-3 match at the Araneta Coliseum. Team Asia is packaging the three-nation tour with Manila as the second leg after Singapore and before Beijing.

"We’re close to finalizing the deal," said Fornier. "We’re down to the small details like agreeing to how many companions they will bring. Maria has an entourage of 15 and Martina, 12. Maria will be coming from the US and Martina from Switzerland."

Team Asia, an entertainment events promoter, is an affiliate of Team Ltd. of Singapore with a branch in Beijing. The Team group was formed eight years ago and has brought in Mariah Carey, Boyzone, Michael Jackson, the Black Eyed Peas, Westlife, F-2 and F-4 to Manila. It recently tied up with Solar Sports in telecasting the "Rumble at the Bay" boxing card on Roxas Boulevard and Rodel Mayol’s bid for the World Boxing Council minimumweight title in Tokyo.

Fornier said Team Asia is also planning to stage a P15 Million charity skins golf match between the Korean pair of K. J. Choi and Grace Park and the Philippine tandem of Frankie MiƱoza and Jennifer Rosales at the Camp John Hay course in Baguio City in October.

Fornier said the teams will play for pot money in each hole with a commitment to donate all or part of the winnings to a local charity.

Sharapova and Hingis have played each other thrice this year. In their latest encounter in Tokyo, Hingis upset Sharapova, 6-3, 6-1. In two previous matches, Sharapova beat Hingis, 6-3, 6-3, in Indian Wells and 6-3, 6-4, in Dubai.

Fornier said Sharapova will conduct a clinic at the Manila Polo Club and Hingis, a similar clinic at the Alabang Country Club the day before the Big Dome match. Both clinics will be open to 30 players within the 12 to 16-year-old bracket.

The 6-2 Sharapova turned pro in 2001 and was ranked No. 1 last year. She won the Wimbledon crown in 2004 and has earned over $5.6 Million in her career. This year, the Siberian blond will bankroll about $30 Million from prize earnings and endorsement contracts. Considered the highest-paid female athlete ever, Sharapova has her own perfume with Parlux fragrances, her own video game and her own line of handbags designed by a Japanese company. She also pitches for Nike, Prince, Speedminton, Motorola, Canon, TAG Heuer, Honda Japan and Colgate-Palmolive.

The 5-7 Hingis was ranked No. 1 in 1997 when she won three of four Grand Slam titles. She has bagged 40 career championships, including three Australian Opens, and earned over $18.5 Million since turning pro in 1994.


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