Bucs to start preseason on the road
TAMPA — The Bucs will play their first two preseason games on the road, at Philadelphia and at Jacksonville, the league said Thursday, to allow for as much time as possible to complete construction on the nearly $100 million renovation of Raymond James Stadium.
Most of the dates and times of the games will be finalized in the coming weeks.
The first game, which will be played between Aug. 11-15, is against an Eagles team being overhauled by new coach Doug Pederson. It will be the second time the Bucs have played the Eagles in the preseason. The first was in 1982.
The Bucs' first home preseason is against the Browns on Aug. 26 and will be nationally televised on CBS at 8 p.m. The Redskins will visit the Bucs for the preseason finale. The game most likely will be Sept. 1 at a time to be announced.
Aussie champ moves on, Venus out in S.C.
Angelique Kerber felt the rhythm she had had last year at the Volvo Car Open. Venus Williams wished that she had, too, instead of bowing out of the tournament in Charleston, S.C.
The top-seeded Kerber, the defending champion, advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Kristina Kucova. Williams looked like she would join the reigning Australian Open champion when she was up 2-1 in the third set of her match. But instead, Yulia Putintseva won five of the final seven games to oust the 35-year-old 7-6 (7-5), 2-6, 6-4.
Kerber will face Irina-Camelia Begu today. Putintseva will face fifth-seeded Sara Errani, a 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) winner over No. 10 seed Samatha Stosur. Begu topped Monica Puig 6-1, 2-6, 7-6 (4).
No. 7 seed Sloane Stephens, the lone American left, will take on 14th-seeded Daria Kasatkina. Stephens defeated 12th-seeded Daria Gavrilova 6-4, 6-3. Kasatkina topped U.S. wild-card entrant Louisa Chirico 6-0, 6-4.
U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship: Defending champion Jack Sock of the United States beat Australia's Matthew Barton 6-2, 7-6 (7-5) to reach the quarterfinals in Houston. Sock will face the winner of a match between seventh-seeded Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus and Fernando Verdasco of Spain. Americans John Isner and Sam Querrey reached the quarterfinals Wednesday. The top-seeded Isner will face South Korea's Chung Hyeon, and the fifth-seeded Sam Querrey will play Argentina's Juan Monaco.
Drugs: Russian athletes' systemic use of the banned performance-enhancer meldonium came into sharper focus this week when the country's sports media outlets reported that Russia's under-18 men's hockey team would be replaced by the under-17 team at the upcoming World Championships after a number of the under-18 players tested positive for the drug, which was banned this year by the World Anti-Doping Agency. Russian Hockey Federation president Vladislav Tretiak told state news agencies the switch was "a tactical decision by the coaching staff," without providing details. "I ask you not to give in to rumor and to speculate about what has happened," he said. Russian sports have been scandalized by doping, including a rash of positive tests by athletes including tennis star Maria Sharapova for the heart drug meldonium, which was routinely used as a supplement in Russia.
Rick Stroud, Times staff writer; Times wires