Some athletes just know when to call it quits.

Age 93, Eleanore Rubinstein has retired as a two-time U.S. Tennis Association champion. So, a new 90s champ will be crowned at the USTA 70s-80s-90s indoor championships at West Hills Racquet Club next month.

'My legs - they hurt. I've had a lot of back problems,' she says. 'I had an epidural shot that has worked amazingly - I feel absolutely wonderful - but I'm not a youngster. I'm great. But I don't know whether I will be tomorrow or not.'

One day on the court about five months ago, she says, Rubinstein just fell down. 'I didn't hurt myself, and I bounced right back up,' she adds. 'But it probably told me, 'This is ridiculous, quit, you're a big girl now.' '

About two months ago she laid down her racket. But Rubinstein still plays golf, because she can ride in a cart from shot to shot.

We're still waiting for Eleanore Rubinstein Day in Pioneer Courthouse Square.

Couture heads to Iraq

Former Ultimate Fighting Championship star Randy Couture, along with current UFC champ Rich Franklin, leaves today for Iraq to visit troops as part of a 10-day United Service Organizations tour. 'It's my third USO deal,' says Couture, who spent six years in the Army. 'We always get a huge response from the military. It's inspiring.'

Couture has been staying busy since Chuck Liddell's fist sent him into retirement last spring.

He's been training with UFC fighters, such as Forrest Griffin, and also has opened a training center in Los Angeles and plans another in Las Vegas. He's finished taping 'Ultimate Fighter 4' as a coach along with Georges St. Pierre.

He's got a part in 'Invincible,' a movie now in theaters about Vince Papale, the bartender who made the 1976 Philadelphia Eagles, and he's been working on another part in 'Big Stand,' a prison comedy with Rob Schneider. He plays an Aryan suprematist prisoner with 'Beat Down' tattoed on his knuckles.

He's working with the UFC's Mark Ratner to get mixed martial arts sanctioned in all 50 states. He's got his own nutritional supplement line out.

Couture, who weighs about 230 pounds - 'back up to heavyweight,' he says - doesn't plan to return to the octagon, unless the UFC and rival Pride could put together one bout. 'I'd come out of retirement to face Vanderlai Silva,' he says.

Knights have had better days

Warner Pacific made the NAIA Division II national basketball tournament last year, but the Knights will have to try to defend their Cascade Conference title without leading scorer Nate Menefee. The 5-11 guard from Lacey, Wash., who would have been a sophomore, has not retained academic eligibility at the school, according to coach-athletic director Bart Valentine.

Soon it'll really be the Champions Tour

Loren Roberts, the defending Jeld-Wen Tradition champ at the Reserve Vineyards and Golf Club, says the best years of the Champions Tour are yet to come. Fred Funk spices it up this year, and John Cook, Nick Price, Mark O'Meara and Fred Couples are coming soon.

'Of all the guys in their late 40s, (Price) is the one guy who I think could be more competiive on the regular Tour at every venue,' he says.

Couples 'will be a great gate attraction. He's got the game when he can stay healthy. … He'll be the first of the really long ball hitters (to join the Champions Tour). He could take it to the next level out here, he and Nick Price.'

Roberts, who's battling Jay Haas atop the money board, has high praise for Portland's Peter Jacobsen.

'Jake's game has always been competitive; it's just a matter of if he can keep his body together,' he says. 'He just seems to have those nagging injuries, like Greg Norman ends up with.'

Here's someone to root for

Looking for an early sentimental favorite in the U.S. Women's Amateur Aug. 7 through Aug. 13 at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in North Plains?

It has to be 14-year-old MacKinzie Kline of Encinitas, Calif., who has had two open-heart surgeries and plays with an oxygen tank hooked to her nose between shots. The 5-2, 110-pounder recently drew the support of Eugene's Casey Martin when she asked the U.S. Golf Association -and initially was refused -for permission to ride the cart in the Amateur and the U.S. Girls Junior last week in Charlotte, N.C.

Kline was born with just one ventricle in her heart, which makes it difficult for blood to pump through her body. Her breathing and stamina are affected, especially as she tries to play round after round, day after day. Doctors say she probably will need at least more two surgeries.

- Tribune staff

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