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Australian Open 2008

ECO TENNIS

The Brasil Open (Feb. 11-17) is going green. This year, in addition to providing an early glimpse of the season’s clay court contenders, the Costa do Sauipe tournament will encourage fans to become more environmentally conscious as it leads through example. Efforts to reduce its carbon footprint include: planting 500 trees to neutralize carbon emissions; sending free text messages providing daily on-court updates and tips on reducing personal environmental impact; and turning off energy generations and air conditioning at night. Daily garbage, such as ball cans, plastic bottles and racquet strings, will be used by local children in the Berimbau Project to make crafts that will be exhibited on site. The Brasil Open will also host a Recicla Jeans (Recycled Jeans) fashion show to further promote the green movement.

Australian Open IS 'TRUE BLUE'

While the Brasil Open is going green, the Australian Open is going blue. On the 20th anniversary of the tournament's move from the grass of Kooyong to the Rebound Ace of Melbourne Park, 'the players' Grand Slam' will unveil a new plexicushion surface at this month's Australian Open in Melbourne.

The cushioned acrylic surface, which has less rubber content than Rebound Ace, is designed to retain less heat, be firmer under foot and play in the medium-to-fast range. The blue color will also be welcomed by fans watching on TV, who often struggled to see the ball against the green Rebound Ace, particularly in harsh light.

GAME, SET, MATCH

Paradorn Srichaphan didn't have a great year on the court in 2007, winning just one of six matches before missing the last seven months of the season after Miami with a right wrist injury. But the year wasn't a total wipeout for the first Asian-born player to rank in the Top 10 of the South African Airways ATP Rankings.

The 28-year-old Thai star married 2005 Miss Universe, Natalie Glebova, on November 29 in Bangkok. Natalie is a Russian-born Canadian, who is an ambassador for many international companies. She also is a classical pianist and former gymnast, and earned her Bachelor of Commerce in Information Technology Management and Marketing at Ryerson University in Toronto.

Paradorn and Natalie, who met at the Thailand Open in 2006, auctioned off replica commemorative dolls of themselves to raise money for charities that work with people who are HIV positive.

Srichaphan is yet to announce when he will return to the ATP Tour. Although his ranking has slipped into the 800s, he will return with a protected ranking that will grant him entry into the main draw of eight tournaments.

TSONGA GOES LONGER

Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga joined Israelis Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram for lifeguard training at Sydney's Bondi Beach during the Medibank International in the second week of January. The players took part in a swim relay, beginning by running through the sand and then hitting the waves to swim beyond the breaking surf to a buoy a couple of hundred meters into the water.

After swimming back from the buoy, the Israeli team showed the effects of their efforts, almost needing life saving of their own as they struggled to regain breath. The younger Tsonga, however, looked fit enough to go around a second time.

The activities were interrupted when the Bondi life saving crew was called away to a real rescue effort for one of the 20,000 summer beach goers. The tennis players were captivated as they watched the successful rescue firsthand.

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