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Ginepris win is no joke

Sure, Andre Agassi and Anna Kournikova were on the scene, but it was Todd Martin slamming aces at the news conference preceding Saturday's Superset Tennis event at the Rose Garden.

Each player was given a few seconds to speak his piece. When it was Vincent Spadea's turn, he said something about meeting a lot of 'intelligent, good-looking people' during his few hours in Portland. The compliment seemed intended primarily for Aussie promoter Stephen Duval, to whom Spadea turned and said, 'Thanks, Stephen, for putting this together.'

Martin immediately cracked, 'You could have stopped at intelligent.'

Moments later, Martin was asked to choose his first-round opponent by drawing a name out of a hat.

'I have a bye,' Martin deadpanned. 'Well, I play Robby (Ginepri), which is like a bye.'

The joke was on Martin, however. He tweaked his back in practice and was unable to participate. The 21-year-old Ginepri wound up winning the $250,000 top prize Ñ not bad considering that he had earned $674,000 since turning pro in 2001.

As for Kournikova, she looked good.

nGreg Marshall is on top of the world Ñ at least the part that knows about the football played north of the U.S.-Canada border.

The former Lakeridge High and Oregon State defensive lineman is defensive coordinator for the Edmonton Eskimos, who beat Montreal 34-22 on Nov. 16 in the Grey Cup, the Canadian Football League's championship game.

Montreal is coached by one-time Sunset High coach Don Matthews, who has won five Grey Cups as a head coach and another five as an assistant, and owns a CFL-record 199 victories as a head coach. The Alouettes had beaten Edmonton in the 2002 Grey Cup.

'It was nice to get a chance to redeem ourselves, and let them (the Alouettes) have the crummy feeling we had the year before,' Marshall says.

Marshall, 47, was a two-time defensive most valuable player at Oregon State. He had a stellar eight-year career in Canada, twice earning all-CFL honors as the league's defensive player of the year with Ottawa in 1983.

He was an assistant coach with Saskatchewan for six years and has been with Edmonton the last four. Now his name is being bandied about as a CFL head coaching candidate.

'I would love that opportunity,' says Marshall, whose son, Brian, was the starting center as a sophomore at Lewis & Clark College this fall. 'I could coach in the States, but the lifestyle for a coach up here is pretty good. We actually have an offseason, get some downtime. That's the biggest thing that appeals to me.'

• Bucky Buckwalter recently returned from his eighth trip to China on behalf of the U.S. Basketball Academy, staging clinics and helping organize collegiate competition in the country. The Chinese women's team will visit the academy, 45 minutes east of Eugene, next month for training.

The Chinese men's team, which recently won the Asian Games, is making rapid strides as it prepares to serve as host for the 2008 Olympic Games.

'The biggest problem China has is a lack of a consistent defensive philosophy,' says Buckwalter, the former Trail Blazer executive who still lives in Portland. 'They need an American coach to help them with that, and we are trying to get (ex-NBA coach) Bob Hill involved.'

Buckwalter predicts that there will be maybe eight Chinese players in the NBA by the time the Olympics hit Beijing. He says that on his last trip he watched a 6-10 15-year-old who could develop into something special.

'There are a lot of promising young guys,' Buckwalter says. 'They grow up playing soccer, so they're agile and have good athleticism.'