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By Nicholas McCarvel

(November 22, 2012) --

Small screen stars: Rafa and Shakira? Who cares! Serena as a rapper. So yesterday. Tennis’ invasion into pop culture continued this week with the announcement that Lindsay Davenport and Chris Evert will guest star on CBS' CSI. L-Dav and Chrissie will be playing themselves on the show in an episode that involves the death of a female tennis player. Justin Gimelstob will join the ladies in the stint, which is set to air in January. Evert took to Twitter to announce her excitement Tuesday, tweeting: “So excited to be on #CSI and working with my friend, Elizabeth Shue. We shoot the scenes soon!”

Rafa Returns! The long-awaited return of Rafael Nadal to a tennis court came to an end Tuesday when the world No. 4 invited cameramen to a practice session in his hometown of Manacor, his “first tennis practice after all these weeks.” The news has been churning around the Nadal camp on when Rafa, who has posted photos of himself working out in a gym, would actually hit some tennis balls. That moment came just short of five months after his June 28 shocker loss to Lukas Rosol in the second round of Wimbledon. That is the last time any tennis fans have seen Rafa on court. His 2013 sched? Nadal will start off at an Abu Dhabi exhibition before playing his first tournament in months at Doha. Welcome back, Rafa!
Hey world, meet tennis: Tennis Night in America? What? That little thing? The evening that began as an exhibition-sport celebration combo night in the recent past has launched into what the ITF is now promoting as World Tennis Day, marked by the BNP Paribas Showdown at Madison Square Garden and a newly-announced exhibition in Hong Kong the same night, March 4. The event in New York will include Rafael NadalJuan Martin del PotroVictoria Azarenka and Serena Williams. The Hong Kong event will feature Asian superstar Li Na as well as fellow top ten player Caroline Wozniacki. Joining the ladies are two old fellas who play the game all right, too: John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl. The ITF plans to unroll a series of activities and events in conjunction with Wolrd Tennis Day.Footnote: It’s a welcome development for Hong Kong, which held an ATP event until 2000 and lost its pre-Australian Open exhibition last year after holding the women’s event from 1999 to 2011.
Farmed to the South: Another day, another sign of the downfall of American tennis. In a move that had been expected for sometime, the Southern California Tennis Association announced Tuesday that it had sold its ATP sanction for the Farmers Classic held at UCLA annually to a group in Bogota, Colombia, all but assuring the move of the tournament to South America. The move came after principal sponsors Farmers Insurance and Mercedes-Benz failed to renew their deals with the tournament. The tournament began in 1927 at the Los Angeles Tennis Club, but has failed to attract big names in recent years because of the travel between Wimbledon and the US’s West Coast prior to the East Coast swing of the US Open Series.


Itty bits: Roger Federer won't play the Sony Open in Miami next spring. Yes, you can close your dropped jaw now. His 14-tournament schedule also doesn’t include Basel. | Sports Illustrated brings in their tennis-writing big guns for an ATP roundtable to discuss the year that was. | Comcast made what it said was its final claim in court against theTennis Channel Tuesday, saying the FCC had got it wrong in forcing the cable giant to carry the sports channel. | He’s still got game: Andy Roddick did imitation after imitation (See: Serena, Djokovic, McEnroe and Rafa) in an exhibition against Milos Raonic this week in Canada. | Steve Tignor is out with his list of "not thankfuls" for the year. We love it. | Bye, bye Gisela Dulko. Retiring at 27? We’ll miss you, little lady. | Gustavo Kuerten and Novak Djokovic participated in a charity soccer game Sunday in Rio prior to a tennis exhibition. They both scored on the soccer pitch, though it was the Brazilian who won their on-court battle later. |She towers above us all—reallyMaria Sharapova’s lending of her name to a skyscraper being built in India is said to be worth millions. But is it worth it to live in “The Maria Sharapova?” We’re not sure. | Australian great John Newcombe said Bernard Tomic might have hit to "rock bottom" and fall out of the top 100 before he realizes he needs to pull himself together. Ouch! | Former LSU women’s tennis coach Tony Minnis, who was fired earlier this year, has filed a racial discrimination suit against the school. Minnis coached at the school for 20 years, leading the Lady Tigers to 15 NCAA tournament appearances. | 10 and Under Tennis goes street — really — in Madison, Fla. The city transformed the city hall parking lot into makeshift courts for an educational day Nov. 10. | Spain, theDavis Cup runner up for 2012 and perennial powerhouse will be hosted by Canada in a first-round match up in Vancouver, Feb. 1-3.


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