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WTA chief leaves Oregon for Florida

Did you know that the chief executive officer of the Women's Tennis Association lives in Lake Oswego?

Kevin Wulff does Ñ or did until this week, when he moved his family to St. Petersburg, Fla., where the WTA has its headquarters.

'The commute was just too much,' says Wulff, 51, who had lived in the Portland area since 1996. 'But we are keeping a home here, too, and will sneak back here for the summers. Like so many other people who have experienced the Northwest, we fell in love with the place.'

Wulff, 51, became CEO of the tennis organization on Jan. 1 after nearly a decade with Nike, which he served in a number of capacities, including vice president-general manager of the U.S. region. He arrived on the WTA scene with the women's game on the rise in popularity.

'It has been kind of a jet-stream year for women's tennis,' Wulff says. 'It might be the only sport where the women's game is of equal popularity to the men on a global basis Ñ and, in some areas, more popular. We have great TV ratings. The prize money is the highest of any women's sports. Our attendance was up about 4 percent this year.'

WTA tournaments are staged at five levels. There are nine Tier I events, featuring most of the premier players. There are 18 to 20 Tier II events, with a commitment policy that guarantees one or two top 10 players and a quality field. Tier III events have a lesser number of top players, and so on down the list to Tier IV and Tier V.

Portland has no national- or world-caliber tennis events, and none are on the horizon. Wulff says that will be the case until sponsorship emerges.

'I would love to have one here, a Tier II or III tournament,' he says. 'The biggest challenge is, there aren't many voids on the calendar. With Nike and Adidas sponsoring so many players, it would be a natural, though. If we find an interested party, we would certainly try to make it work.'

•ÊMarshall Glickman, late of the Trail Blazers and Portland Family Entertainment, has a new gig. Harry Glickman's son has a consulting assignment with the European Basketball League. His focus will be helping the league boost attendance and overall revenues. See, those PFE references helped out after all.

•ÊCasey Martin has advanced to the PGA Qualifying School finals Dec. 4-9 at La Quinta, Calif., and is among 144 hopefuls vying for 35 tour cards.

Martin, 30, ranks 117th on the Buy.com tour money list with $30,218 in earnings this year. The Eugene golfer, who turned pro in 1995, has spent only one year playing the PGA Tour Ñ 2000.

•ÊThat was Don Matthews, the one-time Sunset High coach, leading the Montreal Alouettes past Edmonton to the Canadian Football League championship last weekend. It was the fifth Grey Cup title for Matthews, tying him with three coaches for the most titles in history.

One of the other coaches is Hugh Campbell, who as Edmonton's general manager fired Matthews during training camp in 2001 because of what Campbell determined to be inappropriate behavior by Matthews.

•ÊEmonte Jernigan was a blip on the radar screen of Oregon State basketball, averaging 5.4 points and 13.6 minutes during his one season with the Beavers (2000-01), Ritchie McKay's first as coach.

Jernigan, who wound up in McKay's crowded doghouse, transferred, then sat out last season. This year, he has emerged at Ohio State, where he is contending for a starting job. The 6-3 junior had two big baskets down the stretch, including a 3-pointer with 3:30 to play, to help the Buckeyes win their opener against Coppin State 58-51.

• Defending state high school tennis champion Brett Joelson has signed a letter of intent to play at Texas A&M, the alma mater of his father, former state champ

Brian. Brett, a senior at Westview High who also considered Texas and Georgia, says that is mostly coincidence.

'I've known the coach (Tim Cass) since I was 14 and feel comfortable with him,' says Joelson, a U.S. Open junior doubles finalist last year who is ranked 13th nationally in 18-and-under competition.

•ÊThe Les Schwab Invitational moves to the Chiles Center, Dec. 18-21, with its typically strong field and two players in particular to watch: Ndudi Ebi, a 6-10 senior at Westbury Christian in Houston headed for the University of Arizona, and Brian Johnson, a 6-9 junior at Virginia's Bishop O'Connell High. Ebi is considered by some to be the No. 2 senior prospect in the country behind LeBron James. Johnson, who averaged 17 points and 12 rebounds as a sophomore, was a member of the U.S. Junior World championship team last summer.

'Ndudi is a can't-miss prospect,' says first-year Oregon State coach Jay John, who recruited Ebi while working for the Wildcats last season. 'Good character, humble kid, and with his length and physical ability, there is no way he won't be a star.'