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Jennifer Capriati is AP Female Athlete of the Year

| Friday, Dec. 28, 2001

In late 1988, when Jennifer Capriati was 13 and about to turn pro, she played in an exhibition event in Haverford, Pa. Some players worried she was too young to start a career and would be off the tour within a few years; others were certain she was too talented not to become a star.

It turns out both predictions were on the mark.

Capriati's remarkable return from career crisis to the top of tennis in 2001, with championships at the Australian and French Opens and a brief turn at No. 1, earned her The Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year award on Thursday.

''I'm no longer going to doubt myself in anything,'' Capriati said after winning her first major title this year. ''If I can come home with a Grand Slam, now I know anything is possible.''

She received 37 first-place votes and 157 points from sports writers and broadcasters to top Venus Williams, also the runner-up in 2000. Williams had 26 first-place votes and 120 points, Annika Sorenstam was third with 94 points, while Stacy Dragila and Lisa Leslie completed the top five.

Williams stopped Capriati's streak at the majors by winning Wimbledon and the U.S. Open for the second straight year. Sorenstam won eight times on the LPGA Tour, the most in 22 years, and became the first woman to shoot 59 in competition.

Points were awarded on a 3-2-1 basis, and eight women received at least one first-place vote.

BASEBALL

The owners of the Boston Red Sox refused to turn over documents detailing offers made to buy the team. State Attorney General Tom Reilly would not say Thursday if he will subpoena the bids, but he said the team owners' refusal raises questions about why they sold the team for a reported $90 million less than the highest bid. That discrepancy will shortchange by $50 million homeless shelters, hospitals and other charities designated to benefit from the Yawkey Trust, the team's outgoing majority owner, Reilly said. ''Thus far, they have refused to give us the documents,'' Reilly said. ''One way or the other, we will get these documents.'' Red Sox chief executive John Harrington said he plans to give Reilly ''detailed information and extensive documentation'' about the bidding process, including the bids themselves, when they meet next Wednesday. ''I am absolutely confident that once the attorney general has the facts, he will concur that the process was fair and appropriate and that the bid unanimously accepted by all the Red Sox partners last Thursday is not only the highest real bid, but also provides the most value to the charities we benefit,'' Harrington said.

  • Mo Vaughn and the New York Mets finally reached an agreement to restructure the first baseman's contract Thursday, freeing the team to complete a trade that would send pitcher Kevin Appier to Anaheim for the former MVP. After several days of talks, details were worked out by agent Jeff Moorad and Mets general manager Steve Phillips, four baseball sources familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press on the condition they not be identified. The addition of Vaughn is the latest step in a dramatic overhaul of the majors' lowest-scoring offense last year. The Mets have already added All-Star Roberto Alomar and leadoff hitter Roger Cedeno, and might make a bid for free agent slugger Juan Gonzalez, who, like Vaughn, is represented by Moorad. The Mets and Angels agreed on the Appier-Vaughn deal last weekend, contingent on New York being able to defer some of the money Vaughn would be paid to fit into its budget. Vaughn was owed $50 million in salary and bonuses over the next three years but agreed to rework the contract. There will be a set payout schedule for the deferred money instead of an interest rate adjustment, one of the sources said.

  • Less than two months before spring training is scheduled to start, baseball asked a state appeals court Thursday to clear the way for plans to eliminate two teams before next season.

    Lawyers for the Minnesota Twins and major league baseball said the Minnesota Court of Appeals should lift a district judge's order that the team play through the end of the 2002 season to fulfill its lease with the Metrodome.

    They urged the three-judge panel not to follow ''Homer Hanky jurisprudence.''

    ''No court in the history of the United States has determined that a major league should have a certain number of franchises,'' baseball attorney Roger Magnuson said.

    The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, the state attorney general's office and a season ticketholder are fighting to strictly enforce the Twins' Metrodome lease, meaning they would have to play rather than buy out the contract.

  • The hearing on the grievance by baseball players to stop contraction is scheduled to resume next week in New York.

    Michael Weiner, associate general counsel for the union, said Thursday the hearing before arbitrator Shyam Das was tentatively scheduled for Jan. 3-4 and again on Jan. 10-11. Baseball is seeking to reduce the number of teams from 30 to 28 with Minnesota and Montreal the two likely teams to be eliminated. The sides were close to reaching agreement not to eliminate teams in 2002 when talks broke down on Dec. 13. Lawyers for the Twins and major league baseball asked the Minnesota Court of Appeals during a hearing Thursday to overturn an injunction that requires the Twins to honor their lease at the Metrodome, which expires after next season.

    BASKETBALL

    An infected toe kept Hakeem Olajuwon at home Thursday as the Toronto Raptors left for a West Coast trip. The 7-foot center has already missed four games with the injury on his left foot and is being treated with antibiotics. The Raptors (15-13) play the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday, the Seattle SuperSonics on Saturday, and the Portland Trail Blazers next Wednesday. Olajuwon has averaged 8.5 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.08 blocks per game this season.

    FOOTBALL

    Nebraska defensive tackle Patrick Kabongo won't play in the Rose Bowl because he violated a team rule. Kabongo, a 6-foot-6, 290-pound sophomore reserve, did not travel with the team to California for the BCS title game against No. 1 Miami, coach Frank Solich said Thursday. Nebraska worked out in sweats for nearly two hours at the University of Southern California before going to Disneyland in nearby Anaheim.

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