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New Zealand loses Coutts

Russell Coutts, who skippered Black Magic to a successful America's Cup defense in March, quit the winning syndicate.

As Team New Zealand announced Friday it had contracted designer and tactician Tom Schnackenberg and young helmsman Dean Barker for the next defense, tactician Brad Butterworth announced he and Coutts were quitting.

"I can assure you that our decision was made only after the most intensive consideration and personal soul-searching," Butterworth said, reading from a prepared statement. "It is certainly the hardest decision either of us has ever had to make."

Butterworth said the pair failed to come to terms on a new management structure for the team.

In other America's Cup news, the New York Yacht Club and San Francisco's St. Francis Yacht Club announced they were ending discussions of a joint challenge for the next America's Cup, scheduled for 2002-03.

"It did not appear to be in the best interest of either club or of the America's Cup," read a statement released by the clubs.

New York Yacht Club spokesman Michael Levitt said talk of a joint challenge "was indeed quite serious," but that he couldn't reveal why the talks ended.

Some Americans, disappointed at their country's poor showing at the last America's Cup, pushed for the so-called "super-syndicate" idea so that U.S. groups wouldn't be fighting for the same sponsorship dollars.

Five American syndicates ran expensive campaigns in the last America's Cup, but none made it to the finals _ the first time that happened in the event's 149-year history.

Paul Cayard's AmericaOne, backed by the St. Francis Yacht Club, reached the challenger finals before losing to Italy's Prada, which in turn was swept 5-0 by New Zealand in the finals.

Dennis Conner, a four-time America's Cup winner, said during the final that a super-syndicate could lead to squabbling over the choice of skipper, boat designer and even the location of the next America's Cup if the super-syndicate were to defeat the Kiwis in 2003.

"Could you imagine the New York Yacht Club raising $47-million and giving that to San Francisco so they could win the Cup and bring it to San Francisco? No," Conner said at the time.

TENNIS: Despite her mind "flying away" during key points, Monica Seles fought off hard-hitting Jelena Dokic 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 to advance to the semifinals of the Italian Open in Rome. Dokic, 17, is the youngest player at the clay-court tournament. She is reminiscent of a younger Seles _ not just for being Yugoslavian-born but for her grit and searing groundstrokes. Seles showed that same kind of hunger 10 years ago at Foro Italico. She was 16 at the time and won her only Italian Open. The next month she won the French Open, the first of eight Grand Slams in a 30-month stretch. With this year's French two weeks away, Seles hopes to sharpen her serve and her mental approach. Friday, the serve was the sharper of the two _ Seles had five aces and made 69 percent of her first serves. Seles, seeded fifth, faces Corina Morariu in the next round. Morariu defeated Giulia Casoni in a night match between unseeded players.

In the first quarterfinal, Amelie Mauresmo beat No. 6 Arantxa Sanchez Vicario 6-1, 5-7, 6-4 to reach the semifinals. Whipping winners from all over the court, Gustavo Kuerten moved into the semifinals of the German Open by beating Magnus Norman, the Champions Race leader, 6-4, 6-2 in Hamburg. The $2.95-million clay-court tournament is a major tuneup for the French Open, which Kuerten surprisingly won in 1997. Kuerten next plays Andrei Pavel, a qualifier who defeated last year's runner-up, Mariano Zabaleta, 7-5, 6-4. Another rising star, Marat Safin, reached the semifinals by upsetting fourth-seeded Cedric Pioline 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 6-3. Defending champion Marcelo Rios beat Francesco Clavet 6-4, 6-3 and faces Safin today.

FIGURE SKATING: Tonya Harding had two requests when she arrived at jail: a private room and a cigarette. Officials at Clark County Jail in Vancouver, Wash., accommodated the first request, but could do nothing about the second. Smoking is prohibited. Sheriff's Lt. Mike Anderson said the ex-champion was searched, photographed, fingerprinted and given jail-house clothes _ blue pants and a shirt with black stenciled letters on the back reading "Clark County Jail." Harding began her three-day sentence Thursday for punching her boyfriend and throwing a hubcap at his head Feb. 22. She thought she would get off with community service. Harding, 29, pleaded guilty to reduced charges of disorderly conduct and malicious mischief. The jail sentence was for the disorderly conduct charge. She also was sentenced to 10 days community service on a work crew for the other charge. Harding lawyer Steve Thayer said he doesn't remember exactly what his client said before she was led away in handcuffs, other than asking him to make sure someone took care of her pets.

BOXING: Mike Tyson will face Lou Savarese at Scotland's Hampden Park on June 24, following the decision by the U.K. government to grant the U.S. boxer a visa. Frank Warren's Sports Network, which will co-promote the bout, said the fight would take place at the revamped National Stadium in Glasgow. Tyson, sentenced in 1992 to six years in prison for rape, will be allowed to stay in the country for three weeks. Foreigners who commit offenses carrying sentences of at least a year normally are barred from entering the country under immigration laws. Jacqui Frazier-Lyde (4-0), daughter of former heavyweight champion Joe Frazier, stopped overmatched Norma Galloway at 1:04 of the fourth round in New Haven, Conn. IBF cruiserweight champion Vassiliy Jirov knocked out Esteban Pizarro late in the second round of a non-title bout at the Playboy Mansion tennis courts in Beverly Hills, Calif. CYCLING: Dmitri Konyshev edged Jeroen Blijlevens in a tight sprint to win the sixth stage of the Giro d'Italia in Vasto, Italy. Matteo Tosatto, Konyshev's teammate, retained the pink jersey as the overall leader after finishing in the main group with the same time as the winner. Konyshev began a successful sprint 200 yards from the finish line and barely fought off a comeback by Blijlevens.

SOCCER: Deportivo La Coruna (21-11-6) won its first Spanish league title in its 94-year history, beating Espanyol 2-0 in the final round of the season. Brazilian Donato Gama Da Silva opened the scoring in the third minute and Dutchman Roy Makaay added a goal in the 34th. New York/New Jersey reacquired midfielder Roy Myers from Los Angeles for midfielder Brian Kelly. "Roy is a versatile player who will add depth," MetroStars general manager Nick Sakiewicz said. Myers, who played for Costa Rica at the 1990 World Cup, has one assist in eight games this season. Dwight Yorke's goal helped Trinidad and Tobago move into the semifinals of regional qualifying for the 2002 World Cup with a 1-1 tie against Haiti at Port-Au-Prince.

_ Compiled from Times wires.

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