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Soccer Capsules: Gerrard accepts English flaws after Euro 2012 exit

by on Jun.26, 2012, under Other

But, strangely, it feels a bit funereal, too. In years ahead, when the matches on offer aren’t, say, the Netherlands vs. Germany or Italy vs. Spain but maybe Wales vs. Estonia, will we mourn Euro 2012 as the last great international football tournament, truly memorable for unrelenting high-quality play from first day to last? Possibly.

As UEFA President Michel Platini convincingly argues, opening the Euros to more teams — 24 instead of the current elite of 16 from 2016 — will be more democratic and more inclusive for European football’s lesser nations, the likes of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Estonia or Norway that narrowly missed out this time.

Better value for money, too. More teams will mean more matches, which in turn should mean greater use of stadiums, airports and other expensive public works built for a sporting extravaganza that lasts just weeks. Landing at the new airport in Euro 2012 host city Donetsk — the terminal shiny and imposing although there are very few planes on the tarmac — one cannot help but wonder whether the money couldn’t have been better spent.

So the head says “yes” to Platini’s plan. But the heart says “no” after 28 games at Euro 2012 that, with a few exceptions, were hugely engrossing, with quality matchups and play. The fear is that by watering down such fine wine to make it stretch further from 2016, Platini may also rob the Euros of some flavor.

Another feature of Euro 2012 has been that football, the beautiful game, has outshone the mindless hooligans and ugliness associated with it. Fighting between Polish and Russian fans, against the police and with each other when their teams played out a 1-1 draw on June 12 in Warsaw was the exception not the rule.

By levying fines totalling €325,000 ($400,000) from Russia, Croatia, Germany, England and Poland, UEFA demonstrated commendable intolerance for rowdy behavior and fans who racially abused Italy forward Mario Balotelli, who is black.

But UEFA muddied the message by imposing a one-match ban and a €100,000 ($125,000) fine on Nicklas Bendtner after the Denmark forward celebrated a goal by lowering his shorts to reveal the name of a betting firm on his underwear. The severity of the punishment gave the impression UEFA is more concerned about tackling ambush marketing and preserving exclusivity for its sponsors than weightier issues like fan racism and violence.

Unlike this season’s Champions League, UEFA’s top club competition won by Chelsea with defensive and reactive tactics, Euro 2012 has rewarded bold and dynamic attack-minded football.

The four semifinalists — Italy, Germany, Portugal and Spain — took games to their opponents, instead of merely sitting back, soaking up attacks and waiting for opportunities to quickly counter, as Chelsea did against Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

In the Champions League final, Bayern had 35 attempts on goal, Chelsea just nine. But Bayern still lost, so football and fortune did not favor the most enterprising team.

But the reverse was true in the Euro 2012 quarterfinals. The losers — France, the Czech Republic, Greece and England — together made just 24 attempts on goal. That was as many as Germany, alone, in its 4-2 win over Greece and a stunning 11 fewer than Italy, which from Daniele De Rossi’s shot against the post in the third minute peppered England’s goal but somehow didn’t score in 120 minutes.

Still, Italy’s subsequent 4-2 penalty shootout victory justly rewarded a team and its coach, Cesare Prandelli, whose flowing forward attacks are dismantling the stereotype of defense-heavy Italian football grinding out ugly wins.

For Prandelli and Germany coach Joachim Loew, the aesthetics of victory are important, too. Prandelli hopes the richer new palate of hues in the Azzurri’s style of play will rub off on Serie A clubs, too.

“Coaches need to start playing football more, and not just look for results,” Prandelli said. “There are two years of work behind this and I think this is the future of football. In terms of quality, we’re not lacking anything to anyone.”

No huge new star emerged at Euro 2012, with the exception, perhaps, of 21-year-old Alan Dzagoyev. But his three goals for Russia were dulled by his team’s collective failure to reach the quarterfinals.

Instead, this has been a tournament where established names — notably Cristiano Ronaldo, Andres Iniesta and Andrea Pirlo — again demonstrated with awesome play why they are stars.

Other established names — the entire Netherlands squad, England’s Wayne Rooney and France’s uncouth and uncool Samir Nasri — left us doubting whether they are quite the stars they take themselves to be.

If there is a Euro 2012 bone to pick, it is that too few fans from western Europe were able to venture this far east, seemingly because of cost, the daunting logistics of travel to and between co-hosts Poland and Ukraine and, possibly, because of pre-tournament concerns of racism and hooliganism that, it turned out, were hugely overblown.

Stadiums filled with fans from Poland, Ukraine, Russia and former Soviet republics who relished the chance to partake in a tournament that previously had been no futher east than Germany and the former Yugoslavia. And, naturally, once their own nations went out in the group stage, local crowds didn’t root for remaining teams with the same fervor that Spanish or Italian fans would have done had they been here in greater numbers.

They still paint their faces and make plenty of noise. But their cries of “Ukraine! Ukraine!” during, for example, England vs. Italy and France vs. Spain, were divorced from the on-field action and therefore disconcerting.

But that is perhaps a snobby western opinion that ignores the fact that since taxpayers from Poland and Ukraine are footing the bill, they can damn well enjoy this party in whatever manner they like. The same could be said of South Africans who insisted on blowing their earsplitting vuvuzela plastic trumpets at their World Cup in 2010.

If that is our only complaint, these have been very successful Euros, indeed. A true celebration of football but, sadly, perhaps the last of its kind.

John Leicester is an international sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jleicester@ap.org.

Police force wins Twitter fans with match remarks

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — With random insights into England’s European Championship quarterfinal match against Italy, a regional British police force made itself into a minor Twitter sensation on Sunday.

By claiming Italian players dive and commenting on tactics, near misses and great saves, Staffordshire Police were a hit on the Internet among England fans.

However, one particular tweet certainly stood out: “Great tackle by Terry, we’ll be tackling repeat offenders.”

The tweet was in reference to England defender John Terry, who made a decisive block on a shot from Mario Balotelli midway through the first half in Kiev, Ukraine.

Terry is due in court July 9 — eight days after the Euro 2012 final. The Chelsea player has been accused of racially abusing Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand during a Premier League match. Terry denies the charge.

That remark was retweeted more than 200 times in a little over an hour.

The series of crime-based puns certainly lightened the mood among England supporters during a tense match, which Italy won 4-2 on a penalty shootout.

“Balotelli should be in the Olympics — Italian diving team,” one read.

Another said: “Change of tactics for England — seems to be working. Our tactics are to stop violence!”

In the second half, after Roy Hodgson’s team mounted a couple of attacks, a tweet read: “England team looking good, how’s your team looking tonight – got a Des? (hashtag)designatedDriver (hashtag)Euro2012.”

Immediately after England’s sixth penalty shootout loss in seven attempts at a major tournament, the force had some consoling words for the team’s players.

“Bad luck England, thanks for following us hope you enjoyed the tweets. Have a safe night,” its final post said.

The police force, which covers the Staffordshire county in central England, has been using social networking sites Twitter and Facebook to send out serious messages to residents and give insights into the work done by its officers. Stoke-on-Trent is the largest city in Staffordshire.

– Steve Douglas

UK police probe Twitter abuse of England players

Article source: http://www.brownsvilleherald.com/sports/poland-141824-euro-soccer.html

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College Basketball Capsules: Expansion, rule changes OK with SEC hoop coaches

by on Jun.26, 2012, under Other

And he’s even more bullish about the league’s future now that Missouri and Texas AM have made the switch from the Big 12 to the SEC.

“Think about what happens now,” Calipari said during Monday’s summer teleconference. “Now we start moving up a notch in where everybody is. I think seven teams in our league — half of our league — is going to be in the NCAA tournament. That’s what I believe.”

Perhaps that is overly optimistic. There’s little doubt, however, that Missouri and Texas AM add some hardwood flavor to the football-crazy SEC, which has been considered top-heavy on the basketball court during recent years.

Kentucky finished with a 38-2 record last season and won its eighth national championship, while Florida coach Billy Donovan has usually kept the Gators in the national spotlight after back-to-back national titles in 2006 and ’07.

But outside of those two programs, the SEC’s national reputation is tepid. Only four teams (Kentucky, Florida, Vanderbilt and Alabama) made the NCAA tournament last year.

That’s where Missouri and Texas AM can help. The Tigers, in particular, has a national pedigree in basketball that few programs in the SEC can boast. Texas AM has also been good in recent seasons, making six straight NCAA tournaments before a down year in 2012.

Missouri figures to be competitive immediately in the SEC and should also have one of the league’s best home-court advantages — 15,000-seat Mizzou Arena.

“We have a really good tradition here and we’re excited about what we bring to the table,” Missouri coach Frank Haith said. “I think that we have a really good fan base, a great arena and hopefully we’ll be very competitive in the league.”

While Missouri leaves behind some traditional rivalries — most notably its heated home-and-home series against Kansas each season — Haith said he’s intrigued by the possibilities in the SEC.

“We leave one power conference for another and I’m excited about the opportunity,” Haith said. “I think being in the Southeastern Conference — obviously Mizzou is a national brand and we can recruit nationally — but I think there’s no question it does open some doors in the Southeast from a recruiting standpoint.”

The addition of Missouri and Texas AM isn’t the only issue for the SEC, which will officially admit the two universities on July 1. Other topics on the summer teleconference:

— The NCAA’s new rule changes for basketball were widely praised by the league’s coaches. The governing body de-regulated contact with recruits during the summer months, allowing for unlimited calls and text messages.

“Any time you open up the lines of communication, that’s a healthy thing,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said.

The NCAA also now allows coaches to spend eight hours per week on the court with players enrolled in summer school. For new coaches in the league like South Carolina’s Frank Martin, Mississippi State’s Rick Ray and LSU’s Johnny Jones, it’s allowed a little extra time to get familiar with personnel.

— Kentucky begins its quest for a second-straight national championship with an almost completely overhauled roster. Stars from last year’s team — including Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marquis Teague, Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb — have left for the NBA, but Calipari has reloaded with some of the nation’s most highly regarded freshmen, including Nerlens Noel, Alex Poythress, Archie Goodwin and Willie Cauley.

“You won’t believe this, but we’re going to be really young,” Calipari deadpanned. “… What I’ll tell you is, I like my team. I think we’ve got good players, good kids.”

— Some SEC coaches believe the escalating number of Division I basketball transfers needs to be addressed. NCAA president Mark Emmert recently said that 40 percent of all Division I players transfer before their junior season, the highest percentage of any sport.

Both South Carolina’s Martin and Auburn coach Tony Barbee said the problem begins before college, when elite players often transfer between high schools and AAU programs. Barbee said a culture has been formed that allows players to “run from their problems” when there is adversity.

Former Houston star Luckenbill dies at 72

DALLAS (AP) — Former University of Houston basketball star Ted Luckenbill, who played in Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game, has died of cancer at the age of 72.

The Callaway-Allee funeral home in Crockett, Texas, where Luckenbill lived for 20 years, said he died Sunday in Dallas.

Luckenbill played for the Cougars from 1958-61. He averaged 16.6 points and 9.7 rebounds while helping Houston to its first two winning seasons under Guy Lewis. He ranks 26th on the school’s career scoring list with 1,195 points.

Drafted 15th overall by the Philadelphia Warriors in 1961, he played in only 87 NBA games before he was diagnosed with testicular cancer at the age of 23. His professional claim to fame came on March 2, 1962, when he grabbed two offensive rebounds in the final two minutes to help his teammate Chamberlain hit 100 points in the Warriors’ 169-147 victory over New York. The funeral home said a private service was planned.

Scott, Carlton leaving College of Charleston

Article source: http://www.brownsvilleherald.com/sports/basketball-141825-championed-talent.html

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Adventurous Investors Scour the Globe for Exotic Payoffs

by on Jun.26, 2012, under Other

Professional money managers are scouring the world for oddball assets, desperate to find anything that moves to its own beat rather than rising and falling with everything else in the financial markets.

They are putting money into racehorses, stakes in lawsuits, old coins, even the copyrights to old pop songs. One fund manager bought stock in a beer company called Bralirwa in Rwanda, where tribal rivalry led to a genocide that left 800,000 people dead in 1994.

“Rwanda triggers a lot of bad memories, so people don’t even think of investing there, but there’s huge opportunity,” says Lawrence Speidell of Frontier Market Select Fund, which also owns stock in an Iraqi soft drink bottler and a Palestinian telephone company.

Bralirwa stock has risen 150 percent since Speidell bought it early last year. But the real appeal is that it did so in a steady, calm way, disregarding events that have made the rest of the world’s stock markets bumpy and frightening, such as the Japanese tsunami and Europe’s debt troubles.

And Bralirwa keeps bucking the headlines. Last month, while stocks in the United States, Europe, Asia and Latin America fell because of fear that Greece would leave the euro and Spain needed a bailout, Bralirwa rose 6.5 percent. Even Apple, a stock known to shrug off scary headlines itself, got swept along in the downdraft.

In trading jargon, the Rwandan company and some of Speidell’s other exotic holdings are “uncorrelated.” They have a tendency to move to their own rhythm, a sort of Holy Grail in investing.

Discover enough of these assets, and a money manager might claim to have achieved “alpha,” an ability to beat the Standard Poor’s 500 or other indexes without taking on more risk.

Convincing investors of the claim is another matter. For years, ordinary investors trusted their fund managers, paying them tens of billions of dollars in annual fees. But they have grown skeptical. They’ve pulled more than $400 billion from U.S. stock mutual funds since 2008.

Not only did the managers fail to protect against losses in the financial crisis that year, but too much of what they’ve bought since then also seems to ride up and down with the stock indexes.

Not lawsuits, though. In exchange for a cut of the winnings, funds have sprung up to help pay for suits brought by wives in divorce court, by 9/11 cleanup crews against New York City for health problems and, in one case, by two foreign businessmen in a two-decade dispute with the republic of Georgia for reneging on a gas-pipeline deal.

“It gives David a chance against Goliath,” says Sean Coffey, co-founder of BlackRobe Capital Partners, a lawsuit-financing company started last year. And, he adds, “It doesn’t matter what happens in Greece.”

It can prove just as risky. In lawsuit investing, a fund gets something akin to a share of one side of the dispute. If that side loses in court, the investors are out their money. If that side wins, the investors get their money back with profit.

Sometimes big profit. In one celebrated case, Burford Group, a lawsuit lender, contributed $4 million in November 2010 to help Indians from the Ecuadorean rain forest pay for a pollution suit against Chevron. A few months later, an Ecuadorean judge ordered the oil company to pay $18 billion. Chevron appealed and lost, but is suing lawyers and consultants from the other side for fraud. Burford appeared in position to collect big profits — or rather could have if it hadn’t traded much of its stake in the outcome to an undisclosed firm.

Yes, you can trade lawsuit stakes like stocks.

For years, professional investors in pursuit of alpha poured money into developing countries, stocks of small companies, commodities and funds buying pricey art or wine. Success has been rare, which has only driven the pros to venture deeper, farther.

BETTING ON HEDGES

If you’re rich enough, you can always turn to the folks who claim to have more alpha than anyone else, the managers of hedge funds. The appeal of these exclusive investing vehicles is that they can bet markets will fall as well as rise, and they often use borrowed money to do so, which provides leverage. For access to their alleged prowess, managers charge you $2 for every $100 invested each year, and they take a fifth of annual profits, if there are any.

There weren’t many last year. The average hedge fund lost more than 5 percent, according to fund tracker Hedge Fund Research. Curiously, the dismal showing hasn’t slowed demand for the funds. They now number nearly 7,600, back almost to their peak at the start of 2008.

During the meltdown that year, one scholar of investing, a former editor of the Financial Analysts Journal, stated the obvious in a short article with a blockbuster title: “The Uncorrelated Return Myth.”

It’s not clear things have improved much. Exotic fare such as rare coins and fine-wine funds have mostly risen in recent years, but so have stocks, making you wonder whether they’ll fall together, too.

Avarae Global, a rare-coin fund that lost half its value in 2008, is up 27.7 percent in two years, a near carbon copy of the 26.7 percent rise for the SP 500. The Vintage Wine Fund appears to be moving on its own more, but that isn’t necessarily good. It dropped 22 percent last year.

Better to stick with the song “Guantanamera,” which has managed to buck even the worst of times.

“2008 was actually our best year,” says Brett Hellerman, CEO of Wood Creek Capital Management, a hedge fund that owns the copyright to 30,000 songs, including the Cuban standard, and claims double-digit annual returns. When someone downloads “Guantanamera,” Wood Creek pockets as much as 9.1 cents.

PONZI SCHEME FALLOUT

Not adventurous enough? You can always bet on Madoff money. Some hedge funds are paying victims of the Ponzi scheme pennies on the dollar for their official claims on a hunch that they will bring big profits later when the bankruptcy court divvies up recovered money. Or you can play the ponies. A firm registered in Malta is trying to drum up interest in a new fund, called Resco Thoroughbred, that would race them for prize money and sell them.

Those looking for extreme investing on the cheap might want to check out exchange-traded funds, which typically charge half what mutual funds do and, unlike them, can be traded all day like stocks.

ETFs are exploding in number and variety. Bullish on China, but only on the small companies? Think stocks in Kazakhstan are about to soar? Or the Polish currency, the zloty? There are ETFs for those interests.

Or you can skip it all and bet on the only thing that’s near-certain: that Wall Street will continue to sell the promise of high returns divorced from the U.S. stock market.

Since its October low, the PowerShares Dynamic Financial Sector ETF, which holds stocks of U.S. banks and investment firms, is up 25 percent.

Article source: http://www.theledger.com/article/20120625/news/120629527&tc=yahoo

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Lochte, Phelps advance to final of loaded 400 IM

by on Jun.26, 2012, under Other

OMAHA, Neb. — Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps will have their first showdown on the opening night of the U.S. Olympic swimming trials.

The world’s top swimmers advanced to Monday’s final of the 400-meter individual medley, a loaded race that also includes the silver medalist from last year’s world championships, Tyler Clary. Only the top two earn a spot on the team for London.

Lochte, the defending world champion, was the top qualifier in morning preliminaries with a time of 4 minutes, 10.66 seconds. Phelps was next fastest, cruising through his preliminary heat in 4:14.72. Clary was fourth-fastest at 4:15.88.

Phelps is the world-record holder and won the 400 IM at the last two Olympics, but he vowed to drop the grueling event after Beijing. He brought it back over the past year and said he’s known “for a while” that he would be in the race at Omaha. The only stumble came beforehand, when Phelps realized he had the wrong cap. He found a plain white model that worked just fine.

“It felt fairly relaxed,” said Phelps, a 14-time Olympic gold medalist who plans to retire after these games. “I’m happy.”

Lochte was pleased with his effort, though he knows he’ll need to go even faster to beat Phelps. He expects his rival to put in a much better time in the evening.

“That was the easiest 4:14 he’s ever done, that I’ve seen in the whole entire world,” Lochte said. “It looked really, really smooth for him. Tonight’s definitely going to be a dogfight. It’s not just going to be me and Michael. It’s going to be Tyler Clary, too. It’s definitely going to be a fight.”

Brendan Hansen, who quit the sport after two straight disappointing Olympics but decided to come back for the London Games, advanced in the 100 breaststroke with the second-fastest time.

“Just get that first one under your belt — that’s what I wanted to do,” said Hansen, whose time of 1:00.30 was a hundredth of a second behind lead qualifier John Criste. “It was a little rough. But I’ve been feeling great in the water, and I’m just going to get faster with every swim.”

Also advancing to the evening semifinals was Eric Shanteau, who competed in Beijing after being diagnosed with testicular cancer.

Phelps’ coach, Bob Bowman, was coy about his plans before the trials but said he’s known since a March meet in Indianapolis that Phelps was going to compete in the 400 IM.

“He did one and it’s really the best one he’s ever done in a season,” Bowman said. “He was like, ‘Man, it would be a shame not to do this.’ We’ll know a lot more tonight whether that was a good decision.”

Clary expected Phelps to scratch from the event, which would have made it much easier to qualify for a spot on the Olympic team. Now, Clary has to beat either Lochte or Phelps to compete in the 400 IM in London.

“It will definitely be a more interesting race now,” Clary said, managing a slight grin. “All I can do is control myself. It doesn’t matter to me who’s in the heat. I’m going to go out and swim the race that I’ve got in my mind. I think that’ll be good enough.”

Lochte is eager to face Phelps as many times as possible in Omaha before they resume their rivalry in London.

“Of course, I want to win,” Lochte said. “I hate not winning. I love to win. But if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. I’m not going to beat myself up over it.”

Dana Vollmer, coming back from the disappointment of missing the Olympics four years ago, was the top qualifier in the 100 butterfly. She posted the fastest time ever in the United States (56.59), breaking a 12-year-old mark, and has her sights on Sarah Sjoestroem’s world record (56.06), which was set in 2009 during the era of high-tech, rubberized suits.

“It’s always in the back of my mind,” said Vollmer, the defending world champion in the 100 fly. “I definitely want to do a 55.”

Vollmer, who made the 2004 Olympics as a 16-year-old, battled injuries and medical problems for much of the past decade, but she’s healthy now and thriving with a new diet.

“I feel better than I did at worlds,” she said. “That race felt good, but I still feel like I didn’t put all I have into it knowing it’s just the prelims. To be at that time, it’s definitely a good sign for my next swims.”

Elizabeth Beisel led qualifying in the women’s 400 IM at 4:35.72, nearly 4 seconds ahead of Caitlin Leverenz. Connor Jaeger was fastest in preliminaries of the men’s 400 freestyle (3:48.06), with two-time Olympian Peter Vanderkaay also claiming a spot in the evening final.

Article source: http://normantranscript.com/sports/x1915499883/Lochte-Phelps-advance-to-final-of-loaded-400-IM

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A sprinter’s view on Fast Girls

by on Jun.26, 2012, under Other

Being a female athlete in Britain is tough. We’re not taken as seriously as the men, and it’s much more difficult to get funding – only one female sprinter in the UK is fully funded. So I enjoyed this film about a relay team of female sprinters preparing for a major international championship.

The two main characters in the film are very different people: there’s Lisa, a rich girl whose dad controls the squad’s funding; and Shania, a girl from an estate who’s had to work twice as hard for everything. I couldn’t quite believe in their rivalry: in the real world, even if you don’t like someone in your squad, you have to put your differences behind you. I’ve certainly never seen a fight break out between two team-mates.

It’s true, though, that a lot of athletes come from backgrounds like Shania’s – many have to do second jobs. I’m lucky – I don’t have to do another job as I’ve got the full support of my family. In fact, the scene where Lisa’s mother is telling her how much she loves her, and that she’ll support her no matter what, made me cry a little. That’s exactly how my mum is with me.

There’s a really funny nightclub scene where the girls outrun some nasty boys they meet. I’ve never done that exactly, but I’ve certainly raced boys and beaten them. At university, a footballer challenged me to a race. I beat him in front of all his friends: you should have seen his face.

I did laugh quite a lot at the running scenes: the girls carried their arms at really weird angles, and they kept turning their heads to look at each other, which you would never do in a real race. But the excitement they all feel about the upcoming championship felt very real. I’ve just competed in the Olympic trials, and I’m really hoping I’ll get a place on the relay team. Then everything these girls in the film have gone through, I’ll be going through for real. By the time you read this, I should know.

• Asha Philip is represented by MTC Sport and Talent Management; see mtc-uk.com.

Article source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2012/jun/24/sprinter-view-fast-girls

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At the Finals , a Doubles win

by on Jun.26, 2012, under Other

Newburyport’s Mark Corvi capped off his high school tennis career the right way — winning the MIAA State Doubles Tennis Title with St. John’s Prep partner Ian Wright on June 16. This is the first time in 10 years that the Prep has won such a title.

“He’s a great kid, a nice kid,” said Eagles coach Mark Metropolis of Corvi. “He’s very quiet. He just went out there and did his job. He’s a very good doubles player, because he could get to the net, could get to the ball. He has a great kick-serve.”

The 6-foot-2, 175-pound Corvi grew up in Newburyport and started playing tennis at the Racquet Club of Newburyport at the tender age of 6.

“I wasn’t really into it a lot,” Corvi said of his 6-year-old’s impression of tennis. “But once I started playing doubles really big, I found out I really like doubles. I like playing at the net.”

Corvi’s continued interest in the sport prompted his father, Francesco, an avid player himself, to team his son with tennis instructor John Tracy, who has now been with Corvi for the past 10 years.

Corvi started playing doubles for the Eagles in his sophomore year, eventually teaming with Wright as a junior and the combination worked from the get-go, as the pair amassed a 17-1 record, only losing in the tournament.

“He’s one of the most relaxed kids on the team,” Corvi said of his partner, who lives in Reading. “So we got along well. He’s a really funny kid. He’s a good teammate. If I miss a shot, he says, ‘Don’t worry about it.’ Stuff like that.”

“The nice thing about Ian and Mark was that they were both lefties,” said Metropolis. “That definitely worked to their advantage because a lot of teams don’t get to play two lefties at the same time.”

Corvi and Wright went 15-2 in the regular season this year, making it past the North Sectionals (which Corvi’s brother, John, won last year), then to the Finals in Shrewsbury, where they drew Needham as their opponent.

“We saw them play in the semi-finals,” Corvi said of Needham. “We figured out who (was) the (best) player. We had to get to him more. They were really getting to the net. So, we had to get to the net and control the net. Because that’s how they beat us the last time.”

“We said, ‘We really didn’t come this far to lose. Let’s just go out and do it.’ And they did,” said Metropolis. “It was a great match. They just came to the net and did pretty much everything I had been preaching to them for the whole season and especially that match.”

Corvi and Wright lost their first match to Needham in the Finals, 6-2, then won the second 6-3 and then closed out a nail-biter 7-6 win in the final match.

“I was just relieved,” Corvi said of winning the final match. “Because the regular team lost. It was something to go out with. The year before, my brother lost (in the Finals). So, I could rub it in his face.”

Once that bit of sibling rivalry was out of the way, Corvi said his family welcomed him home with pride and his friends back in Newburyport have expressed the same, as well.

Now that Corvi has conquered the world of doubles, making the Salem News All-Stars in 2011 and 2012 and the Boston Globe and Boston Herald All-Scholastics in 2012, he is headed to Northeastern University in the fall.

“I’m going to try engineering to see how that goes,” Corvi said of Northeastern, noting that he hopes to play some club tennis while he’s there.

Article source: http://www.newburyportnews.com/sports/x399013994/At-the-Finals-a-Doubles-win

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Anderson Silva Unleashes, Promises Chael Sonnen Will Never Be the Same Again

by on Jun.26, 2012, under Other

If there was an easy way to describe Anderson Silva prior to Monday, it was that he could easily be called the silent assassin.

As deadly as any fighter that’s ever stepped foot into the UFC Octagon, Silva has always let his devastating strikes and submissions do the talking for him when it came to the standard trash talk prior to fights.

Well, that all changed when Silva met with the media on Monday during the UFC 148 pre-fight conference call.

Usually reserved in the past, Silva has always seemed to laugh off the comments made by opponent Chael Sonnen as childish and immature, but somewhere over the last few months, the UFC’s most dominant champion ever snapped.

“Well first of all, Chael is a criminal, he’s been convicted of crimes, he doesn’t deserve to be in the Octagon and when the time comes and the time is right, I’m going to break his face, and break every one of his teeth in his mouth,” Silva unleashed as soon as the call started.

For the next nearly 30 minutes, Silva explained in graphic detail how he plans on putting Sonnen away on July 7. If the challenger was looking for a fight, it appears he’s found one.

The normally calm Anderson Silva disappeared, and the giant inside awoke, as he threatened to literally end Sonnen’s career when they face off in the main event of UFC 148.

“Right now, I’m focused on what’s going to happen in the next few weeks and right now the playtime is over. I’m going to beat Chael’s ass like it’s never been beat before. The joke is over, there’s no more talking, I know he’s on the line listening and the game’s over. I’m going to beat his ass out of the UFC. He’s never going to want to fight again after I’m done with him,” said Silva.

“It doesn’t matter if I’m on the bottom, the side, the top, it doesn’t matter – Chael Sonnen’s going to get his ass kicked like he’s never gotten his ass kicked before. What I’m going to do inside the Octagon is something that’s going to change the image of the sport. I’m going to beat his ass like he’s never been beaten before. I’m going to make sure that every one of his teeth are broken, his arms are broke, his legs are broke, he’s not going to be able to walk out of the Octagon by himself. I can guarantee that.”

The fiery responses had the media on the call and just about everyone watching the situation unfold on social networking sites in a frenzy as Silva has never been a fighter to open up with such a venomous verbal barrage.

As he goes for his 10th consecutive title defense, a record that Silva already owns in UFC history, he’s adamant that this fight is just as important as all the rest when it comes to his legacy in the sport.

Fighters are often known for not only being great champions, but for their greatest rivalries. Muhammad Ali had Joe Frazier, and Anderson Silva has Chael Sonnen.

“I’m just going to make him pay and make him eat everything that he’s said, not only about myself, but about our country, about everything. I’m going to make him pay and make sure that he never disrespects any Brazilian, any fighter. I’m going to beat him maybe the way his parents should have beat him to maybe teach him some manners because he’s disrespectful, he’s a criminal, and I’m going to beat him up like he’s never been beat before,” Silva stated.

“The game’s over. I’m not playing anymore.”

The last time Silva and Sonnen faced off, it was Sonnen who got the best of the champion for 20-plus minutes before succumbing to a late triangle choke submission that ended the fight.

Silva promises the outcome this time will be the same except Chael Sonnen won’t be controlling much of anything except choosing the physical therapy that will be needed after the necessary hospital care he’ll need when the fight is over.

“There’s going to be no difference in the end. The first time we fought he stepped out the loser and he’s going to step out losing again this time,” said Silva. “The only difference this time, he’s going to have to go see a plastic surgeon after the fight.”

And with that Anderson Silva’s time on the UFC 148 conference call was over, but the message was sent and received by everyone listening, including Chael Sonnen. This is an angry and focused Anderson Silva and that could be a very scary prospect come July 7 in Las Vegas.

Follow @DamonMartin on Twitter or e-mail Damon Martin.
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Article source: http://ca.sports.yahoo.com/news/anderson-silva-unleashes-promises-chael-070638631--mma.html

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Sports briefs — June 25 – Journal

by on Jun.25, 2012, under Other

Gatlin wins 100, Gay a close 2nd at US trials


EUGENE, Ore. — Their comebacks far from complete, Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay are on the right path.

 

For Gatlin, it’s a journey back from a doping past.

 

And for Gay, it’s a march toward full recovery after hip surgery nearly a year ago.

 

Gatlin and Gay just might be the best shots at chasing down Usain Bolt at the London Games. They showed they’re rounding into top form in the 100-meter final at the U.S. Olympic trials Sunday. Gatlin won in 9.80 seconds, and Gay was second — 0.06 seconds behind.

 

“These two can really encourage each other and motivate each other to take on that other little island out there who’s been dominating America,” said former hurdler Renaldo Nehemiah, who represents Gatlin.

 

With their performances, Gatlin and Gay might have put Bolt and his Jamaican teammates on notice.

 

Or so they hope.

 

“I think he (Bolt) is a great talent and a great runner. I’m just glad to be back and in my top form,” Gatlin said.

 

Before crouching into the blocks, Gay took a giant swig of water and then another.

 

The American record holder breathed deeply and cleared his mind — forgetting all about that surgically repaired right hip or that he really hasn’t tested it out at top-end speed in more than a year.

 

All that mattered was this race before him.

 

And after flying down the track, not a trace of a limp in his step, this much was clear: The old Tyson Gay was back.

 

He was headed to London when a year ago that very notion looked improbable.

 

“Bittersweet. I always like to win. I came in second,” Gay said. “But at the end of the day, it was about making the team. I got to make sure I turn this little bit of a frown into a happy face. For me to start training in March and make the team is a beautiful accomplishment.”

 

Also joining Gatlin and Gay in London will be 23-year-old Ryan Bailey, who edged 2009 U.S. champion Mike Rodgers, Doc Patton and Walter Dix, the Olympic bronze medalist in Beijing.

 

Dix pulled up in the semifinals with a left hamstring injury and wasn’t the same in the final. He’s hoping to be ready for the 200 this week.

 

“Things like this happen. I really can’t say much about it,” Dix said.

 

The last time Gatlin was at the Olympics trials — eight years ago — he was a youngster about ready to become the next big thing in sprinting. He won gold at the 2004 Athens Games and a world title the following year, before his fall from grace.

 

He tested positive for excessive testosterone in 2006, leading to a four-year ban that prevented him from defending his title in Beijing.

 

Now 30, he’s attempting to repair his tarnished image.



Rafael Nadal begins bid for 3rd Wimbledon title


WIMBLEDON, England — His practice session completed on the eve of Wimbledon, Rafael Nadal departed the All England Club on foot, leading a small entourage out the gate and up a hill, momentum on his side.

 

He won a record seventh French Open title two weeks ago. He has three consecutive victories over top-ranked Novak Djokovic, the most recent coming in the final at Roland Garros. He has won four tournaments this year, all since mid-April.

 

But Nadal’s not about to proclaim himself the favorite to win Wimbledon for a third time.

 

“I’m very happy the way things went the last couple of months,” he said. “But thinking about winning another title here in Wimbledon is arrogant and crazy. That’s something I cannot think about, no?”

 

Nadal’s not one to overlook an opponent, which in this case means No. 80-ranked Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil in the first round Tuesday. But fans have the luxury of projecting Nadal into the final, and wondering whether he’ll then meet Djokovic or six-time champion Roger Federer.

 

Either matchup would renew a rivalry. Nadal is 18-10 against Federer, and they’ve played in a record eight major finals, with Nadal winning six.

 

“Their rivalry is one of the most respected rivalries in the history of our sport, if not the biggest rivalry,” Djokovic said. “Every time you see a Federer-Nadal match, everybody is excited. Even I’m excited to see it, because it’s something that goes on for many years.”

 

Lately, however, those showdowns have been eclipsed by Nadal vs. Djokovic. The Spaniard is 19-14 against the Serb, and they’ve met in a record four consecutive major finals, with Djokovic winning three of those. Nadal or Djokovic has won the past nine major titles.

 

Nadal said he enjoys both rivalries but figures fans regard them differently, because he dethroned Federer atop the rankings in 2008, then was overtaken a year ago by Djokovic after losing to the Serb in the Wimbledon final.

 

“When I arrived here on tour, especially when I started to play well, Roger always was there,” Nadal said. “With Novak it’s little bit the other way. I was there and then he came. So is difficult for me to analyze which rivalry is more important, less important, more attractive, less attractive for everybody.

 

Associated Press

Article source: http://www.journal-advocate.com/sterling-sports/ci_20933984/sports-briefs-june-25

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Wimbledon: Rafael Nadal ‘lucky’ to be part of rivalries

by on Jun.25, 2012, under Other

His practice session completed, Rafael Nadal departed the All England Club on foot, leading a small entourage out the gate and up a hill, momentum on his side.

He won a record seventh French Open title two weeks ago. He has three consecutive victories over the top-ranked Novak Djokovic, the most recent coming in the final at Roland Garros. He has won four tournaments this year, all since mid-April.

But Nadal is not about to proclaim himself the favourite to win Wimbledon for a third time.

“I’m very happy the way things went the last couple of months,” he said. “But thinking about winning another title here in Wimbledon is arrogant and crazy. That’s something I cannot think about, no?”

Nadal is not one to overlook an opponent, which in this case means the No 80-ranked Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil in the first round today. But fans have the luxury of projecting Nadal into the final, and wondering whether he’ll then meet Djokovic or six-time champion Roger Federer.

Either match-up would renew a rivalry. Nadal is 18-10 against Federer, and they’ve played in a record eight major finals, with Nadal winning six.

“Their rivalry is one of the most respected rivalries in the history of our sport, if not the biggest rivalry,” Djokovic said. “Every time you see a Federer-Nadal match, everybody is excited. Even I’m excited to see it, because it’s something that goes on for many years.”

Lately, however, those showdowns have been eclipsed by Nadal versus Djokovic. The Spaniard is 19-14 against the Serb, and they have met in a record four consecutive major finals, with Djokovic winning three of those. Nadal and Djokovic have won the past nine major titles.

Nadal said he enjoys both rivalries but figures fans regard them differently, because he dethroned Federer atop the rankings in 2008, then was overtaken a year ago by Djokovic after losing to the Serb in the Wimbledon final.

“When I arrived here on tour, especially when I started to play well, Roger always was there,” Nadal said. “With Novak it’s little bit the other way. I was there and then he came. So is difficult for me to analyse which rivalry is more important, less important, more attractive, less attractive for everybody.

“The only thing I can say is that all the classic matches are because you played a lot of matches in very important circumstances between each other, no? That happens a lot of times with Roger, a lot of grand slam finals, a lot of Masters 1000s, competing for very important tournaments in our careers.

“But with Novak we start to have all of this, too. It’s great. I feel very lucky to be part of these two rivalries.”

Djokovic and Federer, both on the opposite side of the draw from Nadal, were scheduled to play opening matches Monday. Djokovic was to face the former No 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero, while Federer was to play Albert Ramos.

Federer’s match was on Court 1 – the first time since 2003 that he was not assigned to Centre Court for the opening round. That is one sign of slippage for the 16-time slam champion, but his four tournament championships this year suggest he remains a title threat, especially on grass.

Nadal was mislabelled a clay-court specialist by some early in his career, and his first four major titles came at the French Open. But he ended Federer’s streak of five consecutive Wimbledon titles when they met in the 2008 final, and won the tournament again in 2010.

Nadal has reached the final each of the past five Wimbledons, finishing runner-up once to Djokovic and twice to Federer.

“I always loved this place. I always loved this surface,” Nadal said.

He completed a career grand slam by winning the Australian Open in 2009 and the US Open in 2010. He has 11 major titles at age 26, and only three men have won more – Federer (16), Pete Sampras (14) and Roy Emerson (12).

Nadal said plenty of dangerous players lurk in the draw, and he mentioned David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Milos Raonic. But most likely the final will offer a familiar match-up: Nadal against Djokovic, or Nadal against Federer.

Which rivalry carries more historical heft? Nadal declined to guess.

“We’ll see,” he said, “at the end of our careers.”

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Article source: http://www.thenational.ae/sport/tennis/wimbledon-rafael-nadal-lucky-to-be-part-of-rivalries

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Hometownstations.com-WLIO- Lima, OH News Weather SportsSeeking elusive ‘alpha,’ investors scour the globe

by on Jun.25, 2012, under Other

By BERNARD CONDON
AP Business Writer

NEW YORK (AP) – You can leap off a mountainside in extreme skiing, kick and claw to near death in extreme fighting and twist yourself into a pretzel in extreme yoga. Why not turn investing into an adventure sport?

Professional money managers are scouring the world for oddball assets, desperate to find anything that moves to its own beat rather than rising and falling with everything else in the financial markets.

They are putting money into racehorses, stakes in lawsuits, old coins, even the copyrights to old pop songs. One fund manager bought stock in a beer company called Bralirwa in Rwanda, where tribal rivalry led to a genocide that left 800,000 people dead in 1994.

“Rwanda triggers a lot of bad memories, so people don’t even think of investing there, but there’s huge opportunity,” says Lawrence Speidell of Frontier Market Select Fund, which also owns stock in an Iraqi soft drink bottler and a Palestinian telephone company.

Bralirwa stock has risen 150 percent since Speidell bought it early last year. But the real appeal is that it did so in a steady, calm way, disregarding events that have made the rest of the world’s stock markets bumpy and frightening, like the Japanese tsunami and European debt troubles.

And Bralirwa keeps bucking the headlines. Last month, while stocks in the U.S., Europe, Asia and Latin America fell because of fear that Greece would leave the euro and Spain needed a bailout, Bralirwa rose 6.5 percent. Even Apple, a stock known to shrug off scary headlines itself, got swept along in the downdraft.

In trading jargon, the Rwandan company and some of Speidell’s other exotic holdings are “uncorrelated.” They have a tendency to move to their own rhythm, a sort of Holy Grail in investing.

Discover enough of these assets and a money manager might claim to have achieved “alpha,” an ability to beat the Standard Poor’s 500 or other indexes without taking on more risk.

Convincing investors of the claim is another matter. For years, ordinary investors trusted their fund managers, paying them tens of billions of dollars in annual fees. But they’ve grown skeptical. They’ve pulled more than $400 billion from U.S. stock mutual funds since 2008.

Not only did the managers fail to protect against losses in the financial crisis that year, but too much of what they’ve bought since seems to ride up and down with the stock indexes.

Not lawsuits, though. In exchange for a cut of the winnings, funds have sprung up to help pay for suits brought by wives in divorce court, by 9/11 cleanup crews against New York City for health problems and, in one case, by two foreign businessmen in a two-decade dispute with the republic of Georgia for reneging on a gas-pipeline deal.

“It gives David a chance against Goliath,” says Sean Coffey, co-founder of BlackRobe Capital Partners, a lawsuit-financing company started last year. And, he adds, “It doesn’t matter what happens in Greece.”

It can prove just as risky. In lawsuit investing, a fund gets something akin to a share of one side of the dispute. If that side loses in court, the investors are out their money. If that side wins, the investors get their money back with profit.

Sometimes big profit. In one celebrated case, Burford Group, a lawsuit lender, contributed $4 million in November 2010 to help Indians from the Ecuadorean rain forest pay for a pollution suit against Chevron.

A few months later, an Ecuadorean judge ordered the oil company to pay $18 billion. Chevron appealed and lost, but is suing lawyers and consultants from the other side for fraud. Burford appeared in position to collect big profits – or rather could have if it hadn’t traded much of its stake in the outcome to an undisclosed firm.

Yes, you can trade lawsuit stakes like stocks.

For years, professional investors in pursuit of alpha poured money into developing countries, stocks of small companies, commodities and funds buying pricey art or wine. Success has been rare, which has only driven the pros to venture deeper, farther.

Once upon a time, putting money into Brazilian, Russian, Indian and Chinese stocks was considered the kind of extreme investing that could protect investors. Even if U.S. stocks fell, the so-called BRIC markets would rise as the middle classes of these countries grew.

Or so the thinking went. Then came the U.S. financial crisis, and investors discovered foreign markets had too many trade and financial ties with the U.S. to offer much help. In fact, they can make things worse. U.S. stocks fell 37 percent in 2008, but each of the BRICs fell more.

Since then, those markets have broken the link with the U.S. only occasionally, though not always in a good way. Stocks in each of these emerging economies fell 20 percent or more last year while the SP 500 gained 2.1 percent, if you count dividends.

Another popular diversification move, buying commodities, used to work. When stock prices were falling, it was often because commodity prices were rising. Buying commodities at the right time handed investors big profits.

But in a United Nations report in March, two economists tracking commodity prices over 16 years found they increasingly move up and down with U.S. stocks, instead of in opposite directions as in the past. In May, the SP 500 fell 6 percent and commodities lost 9 percent.

For the lockstep moves, blame the so-called wisdom of the crowd. No sooner does an investor discover a far-off place or obscure asset moving to its own rhythm than everyone else seems to show up with fistfuls of dollars.

The U.N. report on commodities, for instance, notes that investors, including many betting with 401(k) plans, had $450 billion in commodity funds last year, up from less than $10 billion in 2000. That makes prices more likely to gyrate up and down with greed and fear surging across the globe in reaction to news, the same as stocks.

If you’re rich enough, you can always turn to the folks who claim to have more alpha than anyone else, the managers of hedge funds. The appeal of these exclusive investing vehicles is that they can bet markets will fall as well as rise, and often use borrowed money to do so, which provides leverage. For access to their alleged prowess, managers charge you $2 for every $100 invested each year, and take a fifth of annual profits, if there are any.

There weren’t many last year. The average hedge fund lost more than 5 percent, according to fund tracker Hedge Fund Research. Curiously, the dismal showing hasn’t slowed demand for the funds. They now number nearly 7,600, back almost to their peak at the start of 2008.

During the meltdown that year, one scholar of investing, a former editor of the Financial Analysts Journal, dared to state the obvious in a short article with a blockbuster title: “The Uncorrelated Return Myth.”

It’s not clear things have improved much. Exotic fare like rare coins and fine wine funds have mostly risen in recent years, but so have stocks, making you wonder whether they’ll fall together, too.

Avarae Global, a rare-coin fund that lost half its value in 2008, is up 27.7 percent in two years, a near carbon copy of the 26.7 percent rise for the SP 500. The Vintage Wine Fund appears to be moving on its own more, but that isn’t necessarily good. It dropped 22 percent last year.

Better to stick with the song “Guantanamera,” which has managed to buck even the worst of times.

“2008 was actually our best year,” says Brett Hellerman, CEO of Wood Creek Capital Management, a hedge fund that owns the copyright to 30,000 songs, including the Cuban standard, and claims double-digit annual returns. When someone downloads “Guantanamera,” Wood Creek pockets as much as 9.1 cents.

Not adventurous enough? You can always bet on Madoff money. Some hedge funds are paying victims of the Ponzi scheme pennies on the dollar for their official claims on a hunch they will bring big profits later when the bankruptcy court divvies up recovered money. Or you can play the ponies. A firm registered in Malta is trying to drum up interest in a new fund, called Resco Thoroughbred, that would race them for prize money and sell them.

Those looking for extreme investing on the cheap may want to check out exchange-traded funds, which typically charge half what mutual funds do and, unlike them, can be traded all day like stocks.

ETFs are exploding in number and variety. Bullish on China, but only on the small companies? Think stocks in Kazakhstan are about to soar? Or the Polish currency, the zloty? There are ETFs for that.

Or you can skip it all and bet on the only thing that’s near-certain: That Wall Street will continue to sell the promise of high returns divorced from the U.S. stock market, and people will continue to pay for the effort.

Since its October low, the PowerShares Dynamic Financial Sector ETF, which holds stocks of U.S. banks and investment firms, is up 25 percent.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Article source: http://www.hometownstations.com/story/18874381/seeking-elusive-alpha-investors-scour-the-globe

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Greatest Sports Rivalries