Celtics

Tennis star plays her final pro tournament

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Tennis star plays her final pro tournament

From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- Not accustomed to losing the last point at the U.S. Open, Kim Clijsters picked up her bag, waved and bid adieu to the fans in Arthur Ashe Stadium -- summoning up a melancholy smile before making her way to the tunnel.Her stay at her last professional tennis tournament ended much earlier than she'd expected. A winner of the last 22 matches she had played at the U.S. Open, Clijsters finally dropped one Wednesday, and with that loss ended a singles career that included four Grand Slam titles and thousands of good memories."It's been an incredible journey," Clijsters said, "and a lot of dreams for me have come true because of tennis."She fell 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5) to 18-year-old Laura Robson of Britain to finish with a 523-127 record, 41 titles and 20 weeks ranked No. 1, most recently in February 2011.Through the starts and stops of a career that spanned 15 years, Clijsters handled all the wins and losses with class, standing out as someone who could keep up with the powerful games and personalities that took over her sport -- and get people to like her while she was doing it."She was a tremendous athlete, a really good competitor," said Maria Sharapova, who won her match, 6-1, 6-0 over Lourdes Dominguez Lino. "I think the nicest thing you saw about her was her commitment to the sport, but also wanting to have a great family life, retiring from the sport to start that, and then coming back and achieving the things that she achieved."Already with a U.S. Open title to her name, Clijsters walked away in 2007, but returned after getting married, having a baby and realizing she hadn't done everything she'd set out to do in her sport.Now, she is nearing 30, her daughter, Jada, is 4, and it really is time to move on.Earlier this year, she announced her last event would be the U.S. Open, the tournament she won in 2009 -- only months into her comeback -- and then again in 2010. Certainly, she didn't expect it to end in the second round, but knowing the end was coming one way or another, she said there were no regrets."Since I retired the first time, it's been a great adventure for my team and my family," said Clijsters, who was 28-0 against players ranked outside the top 10 at the U.S. Open before Wednesday. "It's all been worth it. But I do look forward to the next part of my life coming up."Her last defeat at Flushing Meadows came against Belgian rival Justine Henin on Sept. 6, 2003, in the tournament final.Robson was 9 at the time.When it was over, one reporter asked the young British player: "Do you feel like the girl that shot Bambi?""I wouldn't go that far. I would say that was Becker beating Agassi here a few years ago," Robson said, referring to Benjamin Becker's four-set win at the 2006 U.S. Open that ended Agassi's career.Robson knows, though, how much 23rd-seeded Clijsters means to the game, not only as a superb player but as someone who by all accounts is universally liked -- by fans, tennis officials and even opponents."She's always been someone that I've looked up to since I started on the tour. She's always been incredibly nice to be around," Robson said. "I think we're all going to miss her."Clijsters was the only seeded woman who lost during the afternoon session of Day 3, when the winners also included No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, defending champion Sam Stosur, 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and 2011 French Open champion Li Na."The whole tour is certainly going to miss having her around. She's been a great player and a great person," Stosur said about Clijsters. "I guess she's ready to do other things. She's definitely one of those people that you can look up to and really admire with what she's been able to achieve."In men's play, No. 3 Andy Murray, who won Olympic gold in singles and teamed with Robson for the silver in the mixed doubles, defeated Ivan Dodig of Croatia, 6-2, 6-1, 6-3 in a second-round match. No. 4 David Ferrer, No. 7 Juan Martin del Potro, No. 8 Janko Tipsarevic and No. 9 John Isner all advanced in first-round matches.The headliner on this day, though, was Clijsters.Less than an hour after her loss, she was hanging out in the players' garden alongside the stadium. She shared a laugh with some friends, hugs from others, and paused to pose for a photograph alongside 14-time major champion Serena Williams, who was headed out after partnering sister Venus for a first-round victory in doubles.Clijsters is still in the doubles draw, paired with another Belgian, Kirsten Flipkens, and they play a first-round match Thursday.Clijsters said she needed to focus on that. Clearly, though, the time to reflect has begun."It's not just the tennis side of things that you think about now, it's about life," she said. "We've had a lot of things happen in these last 15 years that I've been on tour. I'm able to look back at them, and I'm very happy with the progress that I've made."

Plenty of on-the-job training for Celtics' rookies

Plenty of on-the-job training for Celtics' rookies

BOSTON – With all the changes the Celtics went through over the summer, seeing more rookies on the floor this season was a given.
 
But six?
 
Yes, only three games into the season and the Celtics have played more rookies than any team under fifth-year coach Brad Stevens.

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And in the 102-92 victory at Philadelphia on Friday night, the Celtics (1-2) played almost as many first-year players (five) as veterans (six).
 
The youth movement here in Boston has been sped up a bit by the season-ending injury to Gordon Hayward, compounded by a left ankle sprain to Marcus Smart that Smart said won’t keep him out any more than Friday night in Philly.

Even if Smart is back in the Celtics lineup Tuesday night against New York, that doesn’t change the fact that Boston will continue to need rookies to step up and contribute going forward as they did on Friday.
 
And while there’s an old adage about experience being the greatest teacher, Boston’s youngsters are going to have to fast-forward past some of those on-the-floor growing pains for the Celtics to stay among the top teams in the East.
 
“Everybody talks about young players having to learn by going through experience,” said Stevens. “Why don’t we just watch film and learn? Learn from things we can control and in the interim, let’s beat the age thing. Let’s not talk about the age thing. Let’s talk about how we can be better at what we can control and how we can learn and grow every day and expedite the learning curve.
 
Stevens added, “because they are going to get opportunities all the way down the line, let’s not focus on trying to learn from experience; let’s focus on learning from every day and see if we can get a little bit better every day.”
 
The one rookie who has had no problem adjusting to the NBA game early on has been Jayson Tatum.
 
Selected with the third overall pick last June, Tatum has been among the NBA's most productive rookies in this first week of the season.
 
Tatum’s 35.3 minutes played per game is tops among all rookies. His 12.3 points and 9.0 rebounds rank seventh and fourth among his first-year brethren.
 
Stevens loves what he has seen thus far from Tatum, but believes he’s capable of making an even greater impact sooner rather than later.
 
“I like him to shoot it on the catch more,” Stevens said. “Because he has tremendous touch. When he shoots it in rhythm with confidence, the ball finds the net. He’s one of those guys; he’s a natural scorer. But his ability to read the game … he’s very intelligent. It’s been more evident on the defensive end. He’s gonna pick his spots offensively now. But we want him to be aggressive and first and foremost, be a threat to shoot it every time he catches it.
 
Stevens added, “I guess it should feel pretty good when you’re 19 years old and your coach is begging you to shoot it.”
 
How quickly Tatum and the rest of Boston’s youngsters grow into the roles they will be asked to play this season can do nothing but help the Celtics adapt to what has already been a season with major changes needing to be made.
 
“You saw [against Philadelphia], we had Shane [Larkin], we had Guerschon [Yabusele], we had guys coming in that played the game at a high level and we need them to contribute,” said Boston’s Kyrie Irving. “For me to see that and witness that, it makes me nothing but proud and happy to have teammates that are ready to play. It’s not always going to look perfect because we’re still gaining knowledge about one another. But as long as we’re out there competing, having each other’s backs, that’s all that matters.”
 

AFC EAST: Cutler hurt, Moore leads Dolphins to 31-28 comeback win over Jets

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AFC EAST: Cutler hurt, Moore leads Dolphins to 31-28 comeback win over Jets

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. - Matt Moore replaced an injured Jay Cutler and threw two touchdown passes in the final 12 minutes, and the Miami Dolphins pulled off another comeback win by erasing a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat the New York Jets 31-28 on Sunday. Click here for more.