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TENNIS : PRIORY DIARY: Superstitious Hantuchova bounced out by disappearing ball.

Byline: Brian Dick

If Daniela Hantuchova is wracking her brains for the reason behind her shock defeat to Arantxa Parra Santonja she should look no further than the dim-witted ball-boy who deprived the Slovakian of her lucky ball.

With the match finely poised deep into the third set and the 22-year-old desperate for any help she could get, Hantuchova produced a game point with a service winner.

Clearly she felt the ball was invested with some magical force so she retrieved it from her opponent's side of the net and proceeded to serve out for 6-6.

But as she rolled it back to the ball collector, expecting him to keep the ball at her end, she could only watch aghast as he bowled it down to the Spaniard's end. The Valencia-born player duly converted match-point in the tiebreak, even though she was sprawling on the ground as Hantuchova netted an easy winner.

Number two seed Alicia Molik may have been humbled in her second round match with Laura Granville but not even that could curtail her instinctive Australian cockiness.

Asked for her thoughts on the forthcoming Ashes series between her compatriots and England, she boldly predicted a series whitewash for the Baggy Greens on the basis that they are 'just too tough'. She did, however, concede that there was one English force that could prevent the inevitable - the weather.

Lawn Tennis Association officials representing Warwickshire are once again in the spotlight after a high-ranking executive was heard heckling the umpire during Elena Baltacha's loss to Milagros Sequera.

The British No 1 was clearly not ready to receive a serve when Sequera dumped her first attempt into the net.

The man in the chair ruled that the Venezuelan should be allowed to start again, only for the barracker to yell 'Take it!'

In a similar vein, pressure mounts for an WLTA colleague to be named and shamed after his mobile phone pierced the atmosphere during Maria Sharapova's first match at this year's tournament.

Your correspondent is loath to finger the culprit personally but is happy to provide clues over the next couple of days to aid identification. Clue No 1: He was sat in the Leisure Care Promotions executive box. Another one tomorrow.

Elena Baltacha has clearly inherited some of her father Sergei's footballing skills. Even when she seemingly forgot how to serve in the second set of her round two match, she had to save ten break points in three games, she was rather more useful with her feet, managing four keepy-ups with a tennis ball.

Not impressed? Try it; it's more than her dad could have done during his days with Dynamo Kiev, Ipswich Town and St Johnstone.

And finally mention must go to Tatiana Golovin's beachwear. The young French woman made heavy work of the World No 203, Natalie Grandin, yesterday morning despite being ranked some 184 places higher. Perhaps she would have fared better had she remembered her bucket and spade as well as her bikini top
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jun 9, 2005
Previous Article:RACING : Tarraman to prove point.
Next Article:TENNIS : Determined Golovin sets sights high; The French starlet is targeting a top ten place. Brian Dick reports.

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