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Maria Sharapova on USTA 10 and Under Tennis, 'Linsanity' in New York

February 17, 2012 04:58 PM
Sharapova05Maria Sharapova will be taking the court against another former No. 1, Caroline Wozniacki, when Madison Square Garden in New York City again hosts the BNP Paribas Showdown, a highlight of the United States Tennis Association's (USTA) Youth Registration/Tennis Night in America drive.
The month of March sees tennis clubs and facilities across the U.S., in partnership with the USTA, hosting play days and other events to kick off youth tennis leagues and play in the spring.

ESPN will be the broadcast partner on March 5 when Sharapova face Wozniacki, and Roger Federer squares off against Andy Roddick.

In a conference call on Friday, Sharapova touched on a variety of topics in and outside of tennis.

Regarding the new rule change for the 10-and-under age group, Sharapova was asked, "You came up very young, and the idea is that USTA has endorsed players with smaller courts defending the ball. I wonder if you think that is an impediment or an advantage for kids that are trying to learn the game?"

"I think that it is an advantage from the beginning," Sharapova said. "It is much easier to have the lighter balls, and much easier to have a smaller court and I think it gives them a better sense of the game in a way. Whereas you are coming onto the tennis courts for the first time, and since it is one-on-one sport, it can be quite overwhelming. So for a young player that is trying it out, I think it is a wonderful opportunity."

The former No. 1 said she had a hit with Europe's version of mini-tennis while at the WTA Birmingham event.

"In Birmingham during our tournament there was like a young junior event there and you did see the courts a little bit smaller, they made the courts a little smaller and the balls were a lighter flush," she said. "I mean I do enjoy a good hit with those balls. When they brought those in we hit them as hard as we can."

The Russian-born Florida resident said that while she has been in New York for fashion week, the "Linsanity" brought on by New York Knicks break-out star Jeremy Lin has not permeated the fashion world -- but is on her radar.

"I was part of fashion week for a couple of days, and he didn't quite make it to the fashion world yet," Sharapova laughed. "I was so busy over there with meetings and the shows, but I did see the covers of your papers a few times walking by, and you guys are all on top of that, but it's pretty incredible and I'm sure he's enjoying all of that. To see a great athlete up and coming, especially in New York and Madison Square Garden, I'm sure it's a lot to write about."





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