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WTA names Graf as top player

Steffi Graf was voted the Women's Tennis Association Tour's Player of the Year for a record eighth time, surpassing Martina Navratilova.

Graf, 27, won the honor for the fourth straight year in voting by international media. She also was named Most Exciting Player in fan balloting.

Graf's 21 career Grand Slam titles are second to Margaret Smith Court's 24. Navratilova won the Player of the Year Award seven times.

Other winners: Arantxa Sanchez Vicario and Jana Novotna (Doubles Team of the Year), Martina Hingis (Most Improved Player), Anna Kournikova (Most Impressive Newcomer) and Jennifer Capriati (Comeback Player of the Year). Navratilova won the David Gray Special Service Award for outstanding contributions.

BOWLING: Steve Jaros of Bolingbrook, Ill., took an early lead in the PBA's Peoria Open, vying for his first title since 1993. Jaros averaged 235 for the first round of qualifying and totaled 1,413 pins. Ken Yokobosky trailed Jaros by 11 pins after rolling a high game of 266 for second place.

BOWLING: Bob Learn Jr., averaging 234, built a 20-pin lead over Steve Jaros after two rounds of the PBA's Peoria Open. Learn, of Erie, Pa., downed 2,813 pins through two rounds to Jaros' 2,793. Jaros, from Bolingbrook, Ill., is looking for his 14th consecutive match-play appearance.

TENNIS: Unseeded Magnus Norman defeated third-seeded David Prinosil 1-6, 6-4, 6-3 in the St. Petersburg, Russia, Open. Michael Stitch is the only top-50 player still in the field.

WINTER SPORTS: Hilary Lindh, retiring after 13 years on the U.S. ski team, won an FIS downhill at Carrabassett Valley, Maine, in preparation for the U.S. Alpine Championships at Sugarloaf-USA. Lindh won the world downhill championship this season, a silver medal in the 1992 Olympic downhill, a bronze in the 1996 worlds and three World Cup downhill victories in 1994 and 1995.

Tommy Moe, troubled by injuries since he won the 1994 Olympic downhill gold medal, made his first start since severing a tendon in his right hand Jan. 25 and won in 1:24.20 over Chris Puckett. Doubles partners Gordy Sheer and Chris Thorpe were named to the U.S. national luge team. Also named were Cammy Myler and Duncan Kennedy; 1993 world champion Wendel Suckow; and doubles teams of Christian Niccum and Matt McClain and Mark Grimmette and Brian Martin. Others include four-time national champion Robert Pipkins, Adam Heidt, Tony Benshoof and Larry Dolan; and Erin Warren and Maryann Baribault. Former Olympic gold-medal speed-skater Cathy Turner accused her husband of striking her during a dispute. Timothy Bostley was charged with third-degree assault after the fight in Parma, N.Y., Monroe County undersheriff Patrick O'Flynn said. Bostley was arraigned and released in his own custody.

SOCCER: Former Olympic swimmer Donna de Varona was named chairperson of the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup Organizing Committee, as the United States prepares to host its first international women's championship.

BOXING: Montell Griffin will fight Roy Jones Jr. of Pensacola for the WBC light heavyweight championship Friday night at Atlantic City, N.J. Jones, who held the IBF middleweight and super-middleweight titles, is 34-0 with 29 KOs and favored against Griffin, 26-0 with 18 KOs.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Eastern Michigan will play Michigan for the first time in 67 years in 1998. Michigan is 5-0 against Eastern, beating them by a combined 104-0.

COLLEGES: USF men's tennis team defeated Louisville 5-2 as Andres Asturias, Brian Lit and Souheil Zekri won in singles. FSU freshman Darius Jones was in sixth place after one day of decathlon and heptathlon competition at the Florida State Relays in Tallahassee. UF men's tennis team defeated Arkansas 5-2, winning five singles matches. UF women's tennis team defeated Duke 6-2 for its 48th straight win. J.D. Arteaga had eight strikeouts while walking none as Miami beat Liberty 6-0. Billy Brown went 3-for-6 with two RBI as visitor Florida Atlantic defeated FSU 13-5. The loss broke FSU's seven-game winning streak. Casey Smith had a career-high six RBI with a grand slam as host Florida defeated Akron 11-8.

_ Compiled from Times wires.