Competition in the RCA Championships will be fierce Lleyton Hewitt (Australia), Marat Safin (Russia) and Tim Henman (Great Britain), the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 ranked players in the ATP Champions Race, are ready to play some mean tennis for a piece of the $800,000 major prize money this week at the RCA Championships.
Other big names on the elite entry list include Thomas Johansson (Sweden), Tommy Haas (Germany), Younes El Aynaoui (Morocco), Xavier Malisse (Belgium), Nicolas Lapentti (Ecuador), Andrei Pavel (Romania), Sebastien Grosjean (France), Yevgeny Kafelnikov (Russia), Nicolas Escude (France), Greg Rusedski (Great Britain), Wayne Arthurs (Australia), Mark Philippoussis (Australia), Mariano Zabaleta (Argentina), Jonas Bjorkman (Sweden), Ivan Ljubicic (Croatia) and Taylor Dent (USA). These tennis virtuosos have voted the RCA Championships as a favorite stop on the ATP tour 11 times. The RCA Championships games are sure to be showdowns. Players are fierce and come equipped with their own bags of tricks. Ranked 32nd in the RCA Champions Race, Rusedski, who"s left-handed and a top speed server, stopped second-slotted Safin from advancing in Cincinnati at the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters event last week. Expect the defeated Safin to play payback here. And then there"s Malisse, who beat Rusedski to move on to the Grand Slam quarterfinals at Wimbledon. He"s reached the semifinals in Memphis and Scottsdale this season, making this his best year ever. Upsets, surprises, anything can happen with this A-list. Behave around these bad boys. Stay silent in the stands. Turn your cell phones off and refrain from chatting during games. American Mike Russell delayed his serve and gestured to some gabbing ladies in the stands to be quiet last week during his qualifying match for the Cincinnati Masters event. Players will stare you down for your inconsiderate behavior. Heckling probably wouldn"t be a good idea either. The RCA Championships take place at the Indianapolis Tennis Center on the campus of IUPUI. Located on Ohio and Blackford streets, it"s immediately west of Military Park and south of the IU Law School. Take West Street to Michigan going west into the IUPUI campus. At the first light, turn left onto Blackford Court. You"ll find parking lots and the stadium within very close walking distance. To find out who"s playing when, visit the RCA Championships Web site,www.rcatennis.com
. Ticket prices range from $8 to $60, $65 to $150 for the Finals and Semifinals Weekend Warrior Package. Tickets can be purchased at the Web site, or by calling (317) 239-5151 or 1(800) 622-LOVE. Check outwww.sportsmediainc.net/tennisweek
if you need a pro tennis tutorial. It"s an excellent source for the latest news on pro tennis, including a TV schedule and ATP Tour Entry System top 50 ranked players. Another great site to get detailed accounts of games and the latest stats on players iswww.atptennis.com
. The United States Tennis Association Web site,www.usta.com
, is where the confusing ranking system and tournament categories are explained in a no nonsense way.