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Capriati to take break from tennis to finish high school

Published Jan. 18, 1994|Updated Oct. 6, 2005

Jennifer Capriati, originally expected to return to the tennis tour next month from an elbow injury, reportedly is putting her lucrative career on hold temporarily.

Capriati, 17, told the New York Times that she's staying off the tour until she finishes high school this spring.

"I need a break from it," Capriati told the Times. "It's unfortunate that I had an injury, especially one that required such a long recuperation, but I feel I've made the most of my break from the tour. And I've decided I want to concentrate on finishing my senior year."

Capriati, ranked 12th in the world and a high school senior in Pasco County, hasn't played since a first-round loss at the U.S. Open in late August because of bone chips in her right elbow. However, some have wondered whether the millionaire teen star ever plans to play again.

Capriati's agent, Barbara Perry of International Management Group, said there's still pro tennis in her client's immediate future.

"This isn't a retirement," Perry said. "I think she was forced to take time off for an injury which she had most of 1993. Having time off the tour, she decided she wants to concentrate on school until after graduation, then come back."

Perry, however, couldn't say at what tournament Capriati would return. "We don't know the exact date she'll come back," she said. "It depends on her (school) work load."

Capriati, who has a career match record of 149-45 and $1.5-million in prize money, has several million-dollar endorsement deals with companies such as Snapple, Diadora and Prince. But officials from those companies have declined to say how Capriati's reported sabbatical will impact their sponsorship contracts with her.

Capriati's parents, Stefano and Denise, said they supported their daughter's decision.

"I have no monster for a daughter. I have a normal girl who has a special talent to play tennis," said Stefano Capriati, who worked as his daughter's manager and coach until last year.

"She's not rebelling; I would not use that strong a word," he continued. "She's testing everybody _ me, her mother, her friends. She wants to see how they react to her if she doesn't play tennis. And she's testing herself, too."

While the extended vacation may do Capriati a lot of good mentally, it's likely to complicate her standing on the tour. Her inactivity since the U.S. Open already has dropped her to 12th in the rankings and that doesn't include the impact of her skipping this year's first major event, the Australian Open. Should she miss the tour's next two biggies, the French Open in late May and Wimbledon in June, Capriati may drop off the rankings computer.

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