Other Sports
 
       === News Summaries from The Sports Network - Friday, April 17 ===
 
 
                        === Flyers fire Craig Berube ===
 
 Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - The Philadelphia Flyers have fired head
 coach Craig Berube after two seasons.
 
 Berube  was named to the post in October 2013 after Peter Laviolette was fired
 just  three games into the 2013-14 season and guided the Flyers to a record of
 75-58-28 during his tenure.
 
 The  Flyers rebounded from  an 0-3 start last season to make the playoffs, but
 lost a seven-game first-round series to the New York Rangers, and finished  14
 points out of postseason spot this spring after a record of 33-31-18.
 
 "I wanted to make the right decision," said Flyers general manager Ron Hextall
 about  waiting a  few days to make  the change. "I put all the facts together,
 but in the end, you go with your gut."
 
 Berube  had one  year remaining on his  contract. He was as an assistant coach
 for  six seasons  before  his promotion  and  spent 18  years  in the  Flyers'
 organization as player, assistant coach and head coach.
 
 "Craig  Berube is a  good friend of mine; he's a terrific man," Hextall added.
 "But professionally I have an obligation to do what I think is best."
 
 Hextall  said the search for a new head coach would begin immediately and that
 he would like to have one in place by the NHL Draft in late June.
 
 
               === Stars sign D Klingberg to 7-year extension ===
 
 Frisco,  TX (SportsNetwork.com)  -  The Dallas  Stars  signed defenseman  John
 Klingberg to a seven-year contract extension on Friday.
 
 Financial  terms  were not disclosed, but  the Dallas Morning News reported it
 has an average annual value of $4.25 million.
 
 Klingberg  had 11 goals and 29 assists in 65 games this season. He led all NHL
 rookie defensemen in assists and points.
 
 "John  is a  very special player, possessing a creativity and skill level that
 few  in this league  can match," said Stars general manager Jim Nill. "He fits
 in perfectly with where our core is at age-wise and his impact on our team was
 felt immediately. We expect him to build off of his rookie season and continue
 his development towards becoming an elite all-around defenseman."
 
 The  22-year-old  native of Gothenburg,  Sweden was  selected by Dallas in the
 fifth  round of the  2010 NHL Draft. He played in both the Swedish and Finnish
 elite leagues before coming to North America full-time this season.
 
 
                     === Report: Kings' Stoll arrested ===
 
 (SportsNetwork.com)  -  Los Angeles Kings  forward Jarret Stoll was reportedly
 arrested Friday on suspicion of drug possession in Las Vegas.
 
 The Kings released a statement late Friday night.
 
 "We  are aware  of police reports out of Clark County, Nevada regarding Jarret
 Stoll.  Our organization  is concerned  and  has begun  conducting a  thorough
 internal  investigation.  While we  continue to actively  gather facts, we are
 withholding further comment at this time."
 
 The  report, per  the Los Angeles Times, said Stoll was arrested on "suspicion
 of  possession of  cocaine and  ecstasy at  a pool  complex at  the MGM  Grand
 hotel."
 
 Stoll,  32, helped  the Kings win the  Stanley Cup in 2012 and 2014, though he
 recorded a career-low 17 points (6G, 11A) this past season.
 
 
                    === Caps' Holtby won't start Game 2 ===
 
 Washington,  DC (SportsNetwork.com)  - Washington  Capitals goaltender  Braden
 Holtby  will  not start Game  2 of  the team's Eastern Conference quarterfinal
 series against the New York Islanders due to an illness.
 
 Philipp  Grubauer,  recalled from  Hershey of the  American Hockey League just
 hours before Friday's critical game for Washington, will make his first career
 NHL playoff start in Holtby's absence.
 
 Grubauer  played  in just one game  for the Capitals during the regular season
 and  has  made 20 career NHL  appearances. The 23-year-old owns a 7-6-5 record
 with a 2.44 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage over those games.
 
 In 49 games for Hershey this season, Grubauer compiled a 27-17-5 record with a
 2.30  GAA. The  23-year-old German was part of an ECHL title-winning team with
 Reading two years ago.
 
 Holtby,  whose  41 wins and nine  shutouts during the regular season were tied
 for  second in the NHL, stopped 26-of-29 shots in Washington's 4-1 Game 1 loss
 to the Islanders on Wednesday.
 
 
                  === Canadiens' Pacioretty in for Game 2 ===
 
 Montreal,  QC  (SportsNetwork.com) - Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty
 is  on  the ice  for Game  2 of  their first-round  playoff series against the
 Ottawa Senators on Friday night.
 
 Montreal's leading scorer missed the final two games of the regular season and
 the  playoff opener after hitting the back of his head against the boards when
 checked by Florida defenseman Dmitry Kulikov on April 5.
 
 Pacioretty had 37 goals and 67 points this season.
 
 He  is  taking the spot of  Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau, who suffered an upper-
 body injury in Game 1.
 
 
                       === Sens' Stone in for Game 2 ===
 
 Montreal, QC (SportsNetwork.com) - Ottawa Senators forward Mark Stone is in
 the lineup for Game 2 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against
 the Montreal Canadiens.
 
 Stone suffered a microfracture to his right wrist in Wednesday's Game 1 after
 taking a vicious slash from Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban.
 
 Subban was given a major penalty with a game misconduct for his actions, but
 did not receive a suspension.
 
 Stone  was Ottawa's  second-leading scorer this season with 64 points and also
 finished second on the team in goals with 26.
 
 
                === Manziel apologizes following rehab stint ===
 
 Berea,  OH  (SportsNetwork.com) -  Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel
 issued  a statement  Friday, offering an apology and thanks to fans, teammates
 and  the organization  for  support  during his  recent  stay  at a  treatment
 facility.
 
 Manziel spent more than two months at a rehab center, undergoing treatment for
 an undisclosed substance problem. He reportedly entered in late January before
 exiting last week.
 
 The  former  Heisman Trophy  winner issued  a statement  through the Browns on
 Friday.
 
 "I  would like  to  thank  my family,  friends,  the  Browns organization,  my
 teammates  and  Browns fans  everywhere for  your patience, understanding, and
 support  during  my stay at  Caron," said Manziel  on Friday. "The doctors and
 staff have been amazing and what I've learned in the last couple of months has
 been  tremendous.  I  owe  private  apologies  to  a  lot  of  people  that  I
 disappointed,  but  a very public one  to the Browns organization and the fans
 that I let down."
 
 Manziel  had a  rough rookie season after being selected with the 22nd overall
 pick  in  last year's draft,  drawing criticism for his  poor play and for his
 behavior on and off the field.
 
 "I  take full responsibility for my actions and it's my intention to work very
 hard to regain everyone's trust and respect," Manziel continued. "I understand
 that  will  take time and  will only happen  through what I  do and not what I
 say."
 
 Reports  of Manziel's  partying circulated all last summer after the draft. In
 late  November, a fight at a high-end apartment complex in Cleveland between a
 fan and people associated with Manziel took place in the early morning hours.
 
 Manziel  eventually  started two games late  in the season, then was placed on
 injured  reserve for  the finale because of hamstring issue. He then overslept
 the day before the last game against Baltimore and was fined.
 
 "I also understand there's a lot of curiosity about this, but anyone who has a
 friend  or  family member that's  been through things  like this knows it's an
 ongoing process," Manziel added. "I'm going to continue to ask folks to try to
 respect  my  privacy as  I determine  to what degree  I am comfortable talking
 about  a  subject which  I  consider  very personal.  Most  of  you have  been
 considerate about that and I thank you for it."
 
 Manziel  is expected to join his teammates next week for offseason workouts at
 the Browns training complex.
 
 "I  look forward to seeing my teammates next week and focusing on football and
 my desire to be the best possible player, teammate, and man that I can be," he
 concluded.
 
 Manziel appeared in just five games for the Browns last season.
 
 In  his debut as a starter in a Week 15 game against Cincinnati, Manziel threw
 for  just 80 yards  and was intercepted twice and sacked three times in a 30-0
 loss.
 
 The  former  Texas A&M star  was back on the  field the following week against
 Carolina  and was  3-for-8 for 32 yards  before exiting late in the first half
 with the hamstring injury that kept him out of the final game of the season.
 
 
                        === Bryant recalled by Cubs ===
 
 Chicago, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - As expected, the Chicago Cubs recalled third
 baseman Kris Bryant from Triple-A Iowa on Friday.
 
 The  Cubs  sent the highly  touted prospect  back to the  minors at the end of
 March  following a stellar spring training, doing so only in an effort to keep
 Bryant under the club's control -- contract-wise -- for an extra year.
 
 Under  terms of the collective bargaining agreement, delaying Bryant's service
 time in the majors by 12 days pushes the slugger's free agent eligibility back
 until after the 2021 season.
 
 Bryant belted nine homers, drove in 15 runs and batted .425 over 40 at-bats in
 14  games this spring  in Arizona. He clubbed three homers, knocked in 10 runs
 and hit .321 during his short stay at Iowa.
 
 "Today  I got to tell my family that my dream is coming true," Bryant wrote on
 Twitter Thursday night after he was notified by the Cubs of his Friday recall.
 "Can't  really put  into  words what  that  feels like.  So  excited for  this
 journey!"
 
 Bryant was immediately inserted into the starting lineup as the cleanup hitter
 for Friday's game against San Diego.
 
 The Cubs also activated outfielder Chris Denorfia off the 15-day disabled list
 and  opened two roster spots by placing pitcher Neil Ramirez and third baseman
 Mike Olt on the DL.
 
 Olt,  who had  been holding  down the  position at  third base  until Bryant's
 imminent  recall, has a  hairline fracture in his right wrist. He had just two
 hits in 15 at-bats, including a solo home run, in six games this season.
 
 Ramirez,  sidelined with  right shoulder inflammation, was 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA
 in five appearances out of the bullpen for the Cubs this season.
 
 Denorfia had been on the disabled list with a strained hamstring.
 
 
                        === Brewers put Gomez on DL ===
 
 Pittsburgh,  PA  (SportsNetwork.com)  -  The  Milwaukee  Brewers  have  placed
 outfielder  Carlos Gomez  on  the  15-day disabled  list  because  of a  right
 hamstring strain.
 
 Gomez was hurt during Wednesday's game against St. Louis and missed Thursday's
 series  finale against  the Cardinals, making the DL move retroactive to April
 16.
 
 In  eight games  this season, Gomez is  batting just .235 with four doubles, a
 homer and a team-high six runs batted in.
 
 The Brewers recalled utilityman Jason Rogers from Triple-A Colorado Springs to
 fill the roster spot.
 
 
                   === Pirates activate C Stewart from DL ===
 
 Pittsburgh,  PA (SportsNetwork.com) - The Pittsburgh Pirates activated catcher
 Chris  Stewart from the 15-day disabled list and optioned catcher Tony Sanchez
 to Triple-A Indianapolis.
 
 Stewart  strained  his right  hamstring during spring  training and missed the
 start  of the  season. He played five rehab games between Double-A Altoona and
 Indianapolis and went 6-for-18.
 
 The  33-year-old Stewart  batted .294  with  a .362  on-base percentage,  both
 career  highs, in 49 games for Pittsburgh last year. He is expected to back up
 Francisco Cervelli.
 
 Sanchez had three hits in three games this season with Pittsburgh.
 
 
                  === Reyes sidelined with oblique injury ===
 
 Toronto,  ON (SportsNetwork.com) - Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Jose Reyes will
 likely miss the weekend series against Atlanta because of an oblique injury.
 
 Reyes  was  hurt last weekend against  Baltimore and has tried to play through
 the  pain. He left  Thursday's game against Tampa Bay and will try to give the
 injury time to heal, hoping to avoid a stint on the disabled list.
 
 In  10  games this season,  Reyes is batting .324  with three doubles and five
 runs batted in.
 
 
                     === Astros' Peacock returns to DL ===
 
 Houston,  TX (SportsNetwork.com)  - Houston Astros pitcher Brad Peacock landed
 back  on  the 15-day disabled  list Friday after making  just one start in his
 return from offseason hip surgery.
 
 Peacock  was activated to start Tuesday against Oakland and threw five innings
 in  his season debut,  taking the loss in a 4-0 setback to the Athletics after
 surrendering   three   runs.  The   right-hander  sustained  a  strained  left
 intercostal strain during the outing, according to the team.
 
 Asher  Wojciechowski was recalled from Triple-A Fresno to take Peacock's place
 in the rotation.
 
 Wojciechowski  started Houston's 5-1 loss to Cleveland on April 9 and received
 the loss in his major league debut, allowing four runs on eight hits over four
 innings.  The rookie  righty rebounded to toss four scoreless frames in relief
 on Monday, then was sent down to Triple A to make room for Peacock.
 
 
                   === Rays send reliever Beliveau to DL ===
 
 St.  Petersburg,  FL (SportsNetwork.com) -  The Tampa Bay Rays placed reliever
 Jeff  Beliveau on the  15-day disabled list Friday due to soreness in his left
 shoulder.
 
 Beliveau,  who posted a  2.63 ERA and one save in a career-best 30 appearances
 for  the Rays in 2014, has been tagged for four runs and five hits over just 1
 2/3 innings over his two most recent appearances.
 
 Fellow  lefty C.J.  Riefenhauser was  recalled  from Triple-A  Durham to  fill
 Beliveau's spot in the bullpen. Additionally, the Rays recalled infielder Ryan
 Brett  from  Durham prior  to Friday's  game against the  New York Yankees and
 optioned outfielder Mikie Mahtook to the Bulls.
 
 Riefenhauser  pitched  in seven games as  a September call-up by the Rays last
 season, allowing five runs and three walks over 5 1/3 innings. The 25-year-old
 pitched to a 1.80 ERA in 11 appearances during Spring Training, however.
 
 Brett  hit .303  with eight home runs,  38 RBI and 27 stolen bases at Double-A
 Montgomery last season.
 
 
                        === Twins put Duensing on DL ===
 
 Minneapolis,  MN (SportsNetwork.com) - The Minnesota Twins have placed pitcher
 Brian Duensing on the 15-day disabled list with a right intercostal strain.
 
 Duensing  suffered the  injury  during Thursday's  game  against Kansas  City,
 during which he allowed two runs in the ninth inning of Minnesota's 8-5 win.
 
 The  left-hander has allowed three runs on four hits in 3 2/3 innings over six
 games this season.
 
 To  replace  Duensing on the  25-man roster,  the Twins recalled pitcher Caleb
 Thielbar from Triple-A Rochester.
 
 Thielbar  has  made 103 relief appearances  over the past two seasons with the
 Twins, posting a 5-3 record with a 2.59 ERA.
 
 
            === Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has quadruple bypass surgery ===
 
 Los  Angeles, CA  (SportsNetwork.com)  - NBA  all-time  leading scorer  Kareem
 Abdul-Jabbar  is currently  recovering from major open heart surgery performed
 Thursday in Los Angeles.
 
 The  UCLA Health System released a statement Friday revealing that the Hall of
 Fame  center underwent quadruple coronary bypass surgery on his 68th birthday.
 The procedure was performed at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center by UCLA chief
 of cardiac surgery Richard Shemin, who said Abdul-Jabbar is expected to make a
 complete recovery.
 
 "At  this  time, Abdul-Jabbar  would like  to thank his  surgical team and the
 medical  staff  at  UCLA, his  alma  mater,  for  the  excellent care  he  has
 received," the statement read.
 
 "He  is looking forward to getting back to his normal activities soon. He asks
 that  you  keep him in  your thoughts and,  most importantly, cherish and live
 each day to its fullest."
 
 One  of the  most prolific  players in  NBA history,  Abdul-Jabbar earned  six
 league  MVP awards  during his 20-year playing career and won six world titles
 with  the Milwaukee Bucks  and Los Angeles Lakers. He was named an All-Star 19
 times and finished his career with 38,387 points.
 
 Abdul-Jabbar  was previously  diagnosed with  chronic myelogenous  leukemia in
 2008, but announced in 2011 that the disease is in remission.
 
 
       === Nets' Teletovic cleared for basketball related activities ===
 
 Brooklyn,  NY (SportsNetwork.com)  - Brooklyn Nets forward Mirza Teletovic has
 been  cleared  to resume  basketball-related  activities,  the team  announced
 Friday.
 
 Teletovic  has  been out of  action since  being diagnosed with multiple blood
 clots in his lungs in late January. He won't be available for the start of the
 playoffs, as Brooklyn opens its first-round series against Atlanta on Sunday.
 
 "Mirza  will  be listed as out  for games, and  if his status changes, we will
 update at the appropriate time," said Nets general manager Billy King.
 
 Nets  team physician  Dr.  Michel  Farber provided  an  update on  Teletovic's
 condition in a statement issued by the club.
 
 "Over  the last  three  months,  Mirza has  been  closely  monitored on  blood
 thinners  and follow-up testing has met our expectations," the statement read.
 "The most recent bloodwork was normal and Mirza has been cleared to resume all
 basketball-related activities."
 
 Teletovic averaged 8.5 points and 4.9 rebounds in 40 games this season.
 
 
           === Kenseth grabs pole for Sprint Cup race at Bristol ===
 
 Bristol,  TN  (SportsNetwork.com) -  Matt Kenseth  will start  on the pole for
 Sunday's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway after beating Brad Keselowski
 for the top position in qualifying.
 
 Kenseth,  the  driver of the  No. 20  Toyota for Joe  Gibbs Racing, made a lap
 around this 0.533-mile, high-banked oval at 128.632 mph during the final round
 of  Friday's qualifying  to earn his first  pole of the season and the 14th of
 his Sprint Cup Series career.
 
 It's the second time in 31 races that Kenseth has claimed the pole at Bristol.
 He  started first and won the night race here in August 2005. Kenseth has been
 winless in his last 51 Sprint Cup start. His most recent victory in the series
 occurred in September 2013 at New Hampshire, his first season with JGR.
 
 "Our  Dollar  General Camry had some  really good speed," Kenseth said. "(Crew
 chief)  Jason (Ratcliff) and the guys made some really great adjustments. They
 had  the very best for the last lap, and we were able to put it together. Glad
 we're  starting  from  the pole,  and  we've  got  some  work to  do  tomorrow
 (Saturday's final practice) to get it ready for Sunday."
 
 Kenseth also won the summer night race at Bristol in 2006 and '13, but has yet
 to score a victory in the spring race here.
 
 Keselowski's best lap in the last qualifying round was clocked at 128.442 mph.
 It's  the first time this season that the driver of the No. 2 Team Penske Ford
 will start on the front row in a Sprint Cup race.
 
 "We're reasonably happy with our day to qualify second," Keselowski said. "You
 get  that close and it seems to sting a little bit more because it didn't take
 much  to find  the next place, but it  could be worse and we're thankful for a
 decent starting spot."
 
 Carl  Edwards,  who is Kenseth's  teammate at  JGR this year, qualified third.
 Edwards won last year's spring race at Bristol, in his final season with Roush
 Fenway Racing.
 
 Kevin  Harvick,  the defending  Sprint Cup champion,  took the fourth starting
 spot,  followed by  Denny Hamlin, also a  JGR driver, and Joey Logano, who won
 the  last  night race  here in August.  Logano posted the  fastest laps in the
 first  two rounds,  including the  fastest lap  in the  qualifying session  at
 129.290 mph, set in the opening round.
 
 "It's  frustrating when you win the first two rounds and then you don't really
 make  it  happen on the third  one," Logano said. I  just got too loose in the
 last round. I'm mad at sixth, so at least that's a good problem to have."
 
 Qualifying  seventh  through 12th were:  Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne, Paul Menard,
 Jamie McMurray, David Ragan and Austin Dillon.
 
 Kahne  was the  only one of the four Hendrick Motorsports drivers who advanced
 into  the  third qualifying round.  Dale Earnhardt Jr.  missed the cut for the
 final round by 0.016 seconds. Earnhardt will start 13th. Jeff Gordon will roll
 off  23rd  after struggling in  the second round.  Jimmie Johnson, who won his
 second  race  of the season  last weekend  at Texas, failed  to make it out of
 round one. Johnson's lap at 126.146 mph earned him the 28th starting position.
 
 "It's  just been a  struggle," Johnson said. "In practice, we were on one side
 of it, and then in qualifying, we were on a different side. It's a frustrating
 Friday.  Bristol can be that way for us. We always race a lot better, so we'll
 settle-in during the race and I think come out with a good finish."
 
 Brendan Gaughan and Ron Hornaday Jr. failed to qualify.
 
 
              === Djokovic, Nadal to meet in Monte Carlo semis ===
 
 Roquebrune-Cap-Martin,   France   (SportsNetwork.com)  -  Great  rivals  Novak
 Djokovic and Rafael Nadal will square off in Saturday's semifinals at the $3.5
 million Monte Carlo Masters, the first clay-court Masters event of the year.
 
 The  high-flying  world No. 1  Djokovic won the  first eight games in drubbing
 eighth-seeded  U.S. Open  champion and fellow Monte Carlo resident Marin Cilic
 6-0,  6-3  in 65 minutes, while  the third-seeded former top-ranked star Nadal
 got  past fifth-seeded  fellow Spaniard David Ferrer 6-4, 5-7, 6-2 in 2 hours,
 44 minutes on Day 6 at the famed Monte Carlo Country Club.
 
 "The  first  set went completely my  way," Djokovic said after spanking Cilic.
 "I  knew he  was going to start to  change some things in his game so he could
 start to play a little bit better. But I made a crucial break at the beginning
 of the second. The first eight games were really fantastic. I tried to keep it
 up, [but] I did drop in the concentration a little bit."
 
 Djokovic  is now  12-0  lifetime versus  Cilic, while  Nadal  is 23-6  against
 Ferrer,  including  5-0 in Monte  Carlo. Nadal beat  Ferrer in the 2011 finale
 here.
 
 The  2013 winner  and two-time  Monte Carlo  runner-up Djokovic  is trying  to
 become  the first-ever player to capture the first three Masters events of the
 year,  having recently  nailed down  back-to-back titles  in Indian  Wells and
 Miami.
 
 Nadal  won  this  clay-court  Monte  Carlo title  eight  straight  years  from
 2005-12,  beating  Djokovic in  the 2009  and 2012  finals. Djokovic ended the
 Spaniard's run with a surprising victory in the 2013 title match.
 
 The  nine-time French  Open king  Nadal  is 23-19  lifetime against  Djokovic,
 including 2-1 in Monte Carlo, but the Serb is 13-9 in their Masters matchups.
 
 The  other semi will pit sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych against 14th-seeded French
 favorite   Gael  Monfils,  as  the  former  Wimbledon  runner-up  Berdych  was
 leading fourth-seeded  Milos Raonic  5-2 in  the first  set when  the Canadian
 Raonic  retired with  a foot injury, and Monfils mauled ninth-seeded Bulgarian
 Grigor Dimitrov 6-1, 6-3.
 
 Berdych is 5-1 lifetime against Monfils.
 
 
         === Serena will open for U.S. in Fed Cup playoff vs. Italy ===
 
 Brindisi,  Italy  (SportsNetwork.com) - World  No. 1 superstar Serena Williams
 will  be first  up for the United  States in its Fed Cup semifinal versus host
 Italy this weekend.
 
 The  best-of-five tie will commence when the 19-time Grand Slam champion takes
 on 36th-ranked Camila Giorgi on Saturday, and that match will be followed by a
 tilt  between 57th-ranked  young American Lauren Davis and world No. 15 former
 French  Open  champ Sara Errani. The  21-year-old Davis will be making her Fed
 Cup singles debut.
 
 The  reigning Australian and U.S. Open champion and Williams is a perfect 11-0
 in her career Fed Cup singles matches.
 
 Sunday's  reverse  singles have  Williams  facing  Errani and  Davis  battling
 Giorgi,  while  the Day-2 doubles  rubber has  an American tandem of Christina
 McHale  and  Alison Riske meeting an  Italian duo of Flavia Pennetta and Karin
 Knapp on the red clay at Circolo Tennis Brindisi.
 
 Williams'  former top-ranked older sister, Venus, decided against playing this
 week due to personal reasons.
 
 Both  the U.S.,  captained by Mary Joe Fernandez, and Italy, guided by Corrado
 Barazzutti, are trying to earn a spot in next year's Fed Cup World Group.
 
 The  two  teams know each  other well,  having met four  times in the last six
 years,  including back-to-back  finals in 2009 and 2010. The Italians have won
 all  four of those recent encounters, but team USA leads the all-time head-to-
 head series, 9-4.
 
 The  Americans hold  a record  17  Fed Cup  titles, but  haven't captured  the
 championship  now since 2000. The Italians are four-time champs, with all four
 coming over the last nine years, including as recently as 2013.
 
 
       === Kvitova set to lead Czechs against France in Fed Cup semi ===
 
 Ostrava, Czech Republic (SportsNetwork.com) - Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova
 will  lead the  reigning Fed  Cup  champion and  host Czech  Republic in  this
 weekend's semifinal against Germany in Ostrava.
 
 The  best-of-five tie will get underway Saturday with opening singles rubbers,
 as  13th-ranked  Czech Lucie Safarova  will take  on No. 29 rising Frenchwoman
 Caroline  Garcia  and the  world  No.  4  Kvitova will  encounter  58th-ranked
 Kristina Mladenovic on an indoor hardcourt at Cez Arena.
 
 Sunday's  reverse singles  will pit Kvitova against Garcia and Safarova versus
 Mladenovic,  while a doubles rubber tentatively has a Czech tandem of Karolina
 Pliskova  and Barbora  Strycova taking  on a  French duo  of Alize  Cornet and
 Pauline Parmentier.
 
 The  two-time Wimbledon  titlist Kvitova is 23-6 in her career Fed Cup singles
 matches.
 
 The  Czechs, captained by  Petr Pala, are trying to reach their fourth Fed Cup
 final in five years.
 
 Two-time  champion  France, skipped by former  world No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo, is
 3-2  all-time against  the Czech Republic, with all three wins coming in their
 last three meetings.
 
 The  winner in  Ostrava will face the Germany-Russia victor in the World Group
 final in November.
 
 The  high-flying  Czechs topped the Germans  in last year's final in Prague to
 capture a third championship in four years.
 
 
             === Hingis to play Fed Cup singles against Poland ===
 
 Zielona  Gora, Poland (SportsNetwork.com) - Martina Hingis will officially put
 her  singles  hat on for  the first time since  2007 this weekend, playing two
 singles  matches --  as well as the  doubles match -- in Switzerland's Fed Cup
 playoff tie against Poland.
 
 Hingis,  who  came back to the  tour in doubles in  the summer of 2013 and has
 since  become  one of  the top players  in the team  discipline, is the former
 world  No. 1  in singles star, winning  five Grand Slam titles. Her last tour-
 level singles match came against China's Peng Shuai in Beijing in '07.
 
 She  was asked how it feels to take the singles court again for the first time
 in almost eight years.
 
 "That's  why  I took  a while to  make this  decision -- I  was like, 'Give me
 another  night  to sleep on  it,'" Hingis said. "The  comfort zone is there to
 play  doubles, obviously I've played very well in the last five weeks, winning
 three  titles,  and the confidence  is there. But  singles is a different ball
 game. On the other hand they have put the trust in me, so it's like, 'Let's go
 for it. Let's try.'
 
 "Hopefully I can make at least a game, you know -- a point for Switzerland!"
 
 She has had a little bit of practice in singles, though.
 
 "I've played some World TeamTennis in America in the last three or four years,
 maybe a set," Hingis said. "But it's usually just one set. That's why I said I
 should sleep on it. We'll see if I can last.
 
 "I'll try my best for the team. We'll see what happens tomorrow."
 
 Hingis' first match will be against current world No. 9 Agnieszka Radwanska on
 Saturday.
 
 "I'm  very happy about it," Radwanska said. "I haven't played her for a couple
 of  years  now, so it's  going to be a  good challenge, especially since she's
 still very fit and still playing some great tennis.
 
 "We  actually played in the Indian league a few months ago. She was there as a
 singles  player. She was still playing great tennis, playing against everyone.
 She's  still  young and  very fit  and after so  many years  on tour she can't
 forget how to play good singles. That's why she can still be very dangerous."
 
 Radwanska beat Hingis in their only previous meeting.
 
 
       === Kuznetsova will open for Russia vs. Germany in Fed Cup SF ===
 
 Sochi,  Russia  (SportsNetwork.com) - The  2015 Fed Cup semifinal between host
 Russia  and  Germany will  get  underway  Saturday  when two-time  Grand  Slam
 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova takes on Julia Goerges at Sochi's Adler Arena.
 
 Kuznetsova-Goerges  will be  followed  by a  bout  between 19th-ranked  German
 Sabine Lisicki and world No. 38 Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
 
 On  Sunday in  Sochi,  reverse  singles will  pit  the 24th-ranked  Kuznetsova
 against  the former  Wimbledon runner-up Lisicki and Pavlyuchenkova versus the
 No.  63  Goerges, while a doubles  affair has German stars Andrea Petkovic and
 Angelique  Kerber  taking on a  Russian pairing  of Elena Vesnina and two-time
 major runner-up Vera Zvonareva.
 
 Team  Russia, captained by Anastasia Myskina, is playing without injured world
 No.  2  star Maria Sharapova this  week, while the Germans, piloted by Barbara
 Rittner,  elected  to keep their top-two  players, Petkovic and Kerber, out of
 the singles lineup for now.
 
 "The  number  one and  two ranked  players [Petkovic and  Kerber] came in from
 Charleston  and  only arrived  here on Tuesday/Wednesday  night. So its always
 tough," said Rittner, giving her reason for the decision.
 
 "They  have had long weeks, successful weeks in the U.S. and I had two players
 who  were  fresh. They have  been here from Sunday  and they had good practice
 sessions and we have a strong team," the German captain added.
 
 This  will be the fifth meeting between the two nations and Russia holds a 3-1
 lead  in the  head-to-head. Germany, however, won the last meeting between the
 two sides when it prevailed 3-2 in the 2002 World Group first round.
 
 Russia  has  lifted the  Fed Cup  on four occasions  (2004, 2005, 2007, 2008),
 while Germany has been crowned champions twice (1987, 1992).
 
 The  winner  in Sochi will face  the Czech Republic-France victor in the World
 Group final in November.
 
 Germany lost to the Czechs in last year's Fed Cup final.
 
 
             === Merritt matches course record at Harbour Town ===
 
 Hilton  Head Island, SC (SportsNetwork.com) - Troy Merritt fired a 10-under 61
 on Friday to match the course record and soar into the lead at the Heritage.
 
 Merritt,  who is looking  for his first PGA Tour victory, finished 36 holes at
 12-under-par  130.  He missed  the tournament's 36-hole  scoring record by one
 stroke.
 
 Defending  champion  Matt Kuchar  carded a 66  to move into  a share of second
 place. He was joined at 8-under 134 by John Merrick (65).
 
 Jim  Furyk, the 2010 winner, posted a 7-under 64 at Harbour Town Golf Links to
 jump  into a tie  for fourth at minus-7. He stands alongside Kevin Kisner (67)
 and 2013 winner Graeme McDowell (69).
 
 Masters  champion Jordan Spieth  fired a 9-under 62 and soared into a share of
 seventh place at 6-under-par 136. Louis Oosthuizen (67), Kevin Streelman (65),
 Matt Every (70) and Morgan Hoffmann (68) joined Spieth at minus-6.
 
 "I  found something  in my ball position on  the range, and it made a world of
 difference.  One more  nights  sleep and  just  feeling like  I  had a  little
 something  to think about on the course, and that helped me zero in on targets
 a  little  better and get into  a rhythm," Spieth  stated. "I don't want to go
 home  early, and  I knew I had to  shoot at least 2-under. I got a couple good
 breaks today, but all in all I played well."
 
 Two-time  winner Tom  Watson birdied  the 18th  hole for  a 1-under  70, which
 helped him make the cut on the number at even-par 142. That was his 501st made
 cut in 617 career PGA Tour starts.
 
 Merritt  got off  to a relatively slow  start with one birdie and five pars in
 his  first six holes.  He stuffed his tee shot at the par-3 seventh within two
 feet and kicked that in for birdie.
 
 After a par at the eighth, Merritt rolled in an 8-footer for birdie at nine to
 make  the  turn at 5-under. He  made it two in  a row with another gain on the
 10th.
 
 Merritt  birdied the  12th and 13th from  11 and 13 feet out, respectively. He
 caught  fire after  making par on No.  14. Merritt rolled in an 18-foot birdie
 try on the par-5 15th to grab the lead at minus-9.
 
 The  29-year-old birdied the final three holes, all from inside seven feet, to
 match David Frost's course record.
 
 "I've  got a superstition that when I make a birdie I don't take a ball out of
 a  round, and I put  the last ball into play on 12 and it got beat up the last
 seven  holes,  but I played it  all the way in  and made six birdies with it,"
 said  Merritt. "It was  a lot of fun. It was fun to hit quality golf shots and
 roll the putts in."
 
 Kuchar,  who  played alongside Spieth,  had two birdies  and seven pars on his
 opening  nine. On his second nine, Kuchar dropped in back-to-back birdies from
 the  first,  and again  from the fifth.  Kuchar missed the  green at the par-3
 seventh  and that led to a bogey, which dropped him back to minus-8. He parred
 the last two holes to end there.
 
 Merrick birdied the 10th and 11th to get his round going. After a bogey on No.
 12,  he  drained a 19-footer  for birdie at the  15th. Merrick parred the next
 three  before  converting birdie chances  at the  first three holes around the
 turn.
 
 That burst moved Merrick to 7-under and he remained there as he parred five in
 a  row from the  fourth. Merrick converted a 14-footer for birdie on the ninth
 to join Kuchar in second place.
 
 NOTES:  Merritt is  trying to join a  group of 10 other players that made this
 event  their first PGA Tour win ... The only other time he led after any round
 on  the PGA Tour was after the first round of the 2010 Sony Open in Hawaii ...
 With  little wind  through the day, Friday's scoring average at 69.641 was the
 second-lowest  in event history  ... The cut line fell at even-par 142 with 76
 players  making  it to  the weekend ...  Among those that  missed the cut were
 Kenny Perry, Graham DeLaet, Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson and Ernie Els.
 
 
                    === Uihlein moves into lead in China ===
 
 Shenzhen,  China  (SportsNetwork.com) -  Peter Uihlein posted  a 4-under 68 on
 Friday  and moved  into  the lead  after  the second  round  of the  inaugural
 Shenzhen International.
 
 The American completed 36 holes at 9-under-par 135.
 
 Kiradech  Aphibarnrat carded  a 3-under  69 to  end two  rounds at  minus-8 at
 Genzon Golf Club.
 
 Emiliano  Grillo  shared low round  of the day honors  with his 5-under 67. He
 jumped  into  a share of third  place alongside Gregory Havret (68), Matt Ford
 (69) and Darren Fichardt (70).
 
 Matteo Manassero (70) headlines a group of four players tied for seventh place
 at 5-under-par 139.
 
 Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson stumbled to a 2-over 74. He fell into a
 share of 42nd place at even-par 144.
 
 "It's tough. I haven't played very well. I haven't putted very well.  But it's
 a beautiful golf course," said Watson.
 
 Uihlein  took  advantage of  the par-5s  on Friday  to move  into the lead. He
 parred three holes in a row from the 10th to open his round before carding his
 first birdie at the par-5 13th.
 
 The  2013  Madeira Islands  Open winner  stumbled to  a bogey  at the 15th. He
 erased that mistake with a birdie at the par-5 17th.
 
 Around  the turn,  Uihlein birdied  the par-5  second to  move to  7-under. He
 parred  the next three,  then dropped in a birdie effort at the sixth. Uihlein
 grabbed the lead as he capped his round with a birdie on the par-5 ninth.
 
 "It  was tricky today.  The wind was swirling quite a bit," Uihlein stated. "I
 got  the back nine  out of the way pretty quickly. I played very solid. I felt
 like  getting  anything under-par  on the back  nine was nice,  and I played a
 pretty stress free front nine, which is always good."
 
 Aphibarnrat,  who also started  on No. 10 on Friday, tripped to a bogey at the
 12th,  but came  right back with a birdie  at No. 13. He parred the final five
 holes of his opening nine.
 
 The  2013  Malaysian Open champion  birdied the first  and third, both for the
 second day in a row, to move to minus-7.
 
 Aphibarnrat birdied the sixth to get to 8-under. He faltered to a bogey at the
 eighth, but quickly atoned for that error with a birdie at the ninth.
 
 "It  was a great round. Again, the wind was getting up on a few holes before I
 finished, but the way I was striking the ball is still very good," Aphibarnrat
 said.
 
 NOTES: Uihlein has had the 36-hole lead twice previously on the European Tour,
 but failed to hold either lead ... First-round leader Wen-yi Huang stumbled to
 a  2-over  74 and dropped  into a  tie for 11th  at 4-under-par 140 ... Niclas
 Fasth  carded  a hole-in-one on the  par-3 third ... Byeong-Hun An, who shared
 second  place  after the first  round, withdrew due to  a neck injury and Paul
 Waring withdrew with a shoulder injury ... The cut line fell at 2-over-par 146
 with  67 players moving  on to the weekend ... Among those that missed the cut
 were  Alejandro  Canizares, Oliver Fisher,  Peter Hanson, Peter Lawrie, Robert
 Karlsson and Nicolas Colsaerts.
 
 
             === European Tour names Pelley as chief executive ===
 
 Virginia  Water,  England (SportsNetwork.com) -  The European Tour named Keith
 Pelley as it new Chief Executive Officer on Friday. Pelley will replace George
 O'Grady, who announced last November that he was stepping down.
 
 Pelley  is currently  the president of Rogers Media in Canada, where he helped
 orchestrate  the  largest sports  right deal in  Canadian history, when Rogers
 acquired the rights to National Hockey League broadcasts.
 
 "I  am  very honored  to be  joining the  European Tour  as its  new CEO at an
 exciting  stage in  its development,"  Pelley said.  "The tour  already has  a
 highly  regarded  reputation and I  look forward to  building on this using my
 previous experience in both media and sports to ensure it remains at forefront
 of the game across the globe."
 
 Pelley  led  Canada's Olympic  Broadcast Media Consortium  for the 2010 winter
 games in Vancouver. Prior to that, Pelley was the CEO of the Canadian Football
 League's Toronto Argonauts.
 
 "I  am delighted to welcome Keith Pelley to the European Tour as our new Chief
 Executive.  Keith's  proven track record, extensive experience and outstanding
 leadership skills in both sport and media will be invaluable as we continue to
 further develop our strategy," said European Tour chairman David Williams.
 
 "On  behalf of  the board, I would  again like to thank George O'Grady for his
 extraordinary contribution to the European Tour and professional golf over the
 last  40 years  and  we are  delighted  that  he will  undertake  the role  of
 President of International Relations, ensuring the European Tour will continue
 to benefit from his knowledge and experience."
 
 
                === Rain halts play at Gwinnett Championship ===
 
 Duluth,  GA  (SportsNetwork.com) - Joey Sindelar  was one of five players that
 stood at 4-under par when the first round of the Greater Gwinnett Championship
 was halted by rain on Friday.
 
 Sindelar  was joined  atop the leaderboard by Tommy Armour III, Gary Hallberg,
 Ian Woosnam and Olin Browne.
 
 Heavy  rain at  TPC Sugarloaf halted play, and after a lengthy wait, officials
 called  play for the day. The first round will resume on Saturday at 8 a.m. ET
 with  the second round to follow at 10:40 a.m. Players will remain in the same
 groups for round two.
 
 Tom  Byrum  posted a  3-under 69 and  was one of  three players that completed
 their  opening rounds. Byrum shared sixth place with Steve Pate, Stephen Ames,
 Steve Jones, Kevin Sutherland, Brad Faxon, Mark O'Meara and Tom Pernice, Jr.
 
 John Huston and Mark Brooks both carded 2-under 70s and are tied for 14th.
 
 Reigning  champion Miguel  Angel Jimenez was even-par through 11 holes and was
 tied for 40th place, while 2013 winner Bernhard Langer shared 28th at minus-1.
 
 Sindelar  played  the back nine first  on Friday and  he opened with a pair of
 pars.  He  converted his  first birdie  chance at  the 12th,  then ran off six
 straight pars from the 13th.
 
 Around  the  turn, Sindelar dropped in  back-to-back birdies at one and two to
 move  to minus-3. After  three more pars, he birdied the par-5 sixth to grab a
 share of the lead. Play was called shortly after that.
 
 Armour  and  Hallberg started at the  same time, but on opposite nines. Armour
 birdied  the first and third to get off to a quick start. He later birdied the
 seventh and ninth to make the turn tied for the lead at minus-4. Armour parred
 the first five holes of the back nine before play was stopped.
 
 Hallberg  birdied the 12th and 15th to go with seven pars on his opening nine.
 He  moved  into a  share of the  lead with birdies  on Nos.  1 and 3. Play was
 stopped after he parred his next two holes.
 
 Woosnam  traded a birdie at the 10th for a bogey at the 11th. He soared up the
 leaderboard  with  three birdies in  his next four  holes. Woosnam ran off six
 consecutive  pars from the  16th. He birdied the fourth to grab a share of the
 lead.
 
 Browne  birdied four of his first five holes from the 10th. He parred seven in
 a row before play was stopped for the day.
 
 NOTES:  Of  the five leaders  when play was called  on Friday, only Browne and
 Hallberg  have won on the Champions Tour and they both have one tour title ...
 Sindelar,  Armour and Woosnam are all looking for their first tour victory ...
 This  was the  first suspension on the Champions Tour since last year's Quebec
 Championship.
 
 
              === Sei Young Kim takes outright lead in Hawaii ===
 
 Oahu,  Hawaii  (SportsNetwork.com) - Rookie Sei  Young Kim carded a 2-under 70
 in  Friday's  third round and that  was good enough  to give her a 1-shot lead
 heading into the final day of the LOTTE Championship.
 
 Sei  Young Kim, who  shared the second-round lead with I.K. Kim, picked up her
 first  career victory  on the LPGA Tour at the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic,
 the  second  event of the  2015 season. She  finished 54 holes at 12-under-par
 204.
 
 "I  think overall I  didn't have the really good feel for my shots today," Sei
 Young  Kim admitted.  "Started to  get better  as the  round went  on, but  my
 putting wasn't working too well. Overall it was a pretty tough round."
 
 I.K.  Kim, who also  held the outright first-round lead, shot a 1-under 71 and
 she  is  alone in second at  11-under 205. World No.  3 Inbee Park is one shot
 further back at minus-10 following a 3-under 69 at Ko Olina Golf Club.
 
 Jenny Shin (70) is alone in fourth at minus-8, while Chella Choi (71) is at 7-
 under. Ai Miyazato (71) and Paula Creamer (72) share sixth place at minus-6.
 
 Defending  champion  Michelle Wie  (73) is eight  shots back and  in a tie for
 eighth at 4-under with five others.
 
 Sei  Young  Kim, entering the  day with a 3-shot  lead alongside I.K. Kim, was
 smooth out of the gate with four straight pars before she drained back-to-back
 birdies on five and six. That had Sei Young Kim out in front on her own.
 
 After finishing up the front nine with three straight pars, Kim tripped to her
 first bogey on No. 10, only to get it back with a gain on the par-4 11th.
 
 Kim  later traded a birdie on 13 for a bogey on 14 and did the same thing with
 a gain on 16 and a bogey on 17. The dropped shot at 17 paired with an I.K. Kim
 birdie on the same hole had the duo tied for first once again.
 
 However, while Sei Young Kim made par at the last, I.K. Kim made bogey to drop
 her a shot back entering the final day.
 
 I.K.  Kim  took the outright  lead early  on when she  drained a birdie at the
 first, but that was her last birdie for a while as the South Korean later made
 bogeys on three and eight.
 
 Kim's  next  birdie did not come  until 12 holes  later at the par-5 13th. She
 then  rattled off back-to-back  gains on 16 and 17, which pulled her even with
 Sei Young Kim.
 
 I.K.  Kim was unable to get up and down for par when her second shot missed to
 the right of the green on 18 and she made bogey.
 
 I.K.  Kim  agreed with  Sei Young  Kim about how  difficult it  was out on the
 course in round three.
 
 "I  just  had tough day today.  It was tough wind,  but I was hitting the ball
 kind of everywhere, especially on the tee," I.K. Kim said. "I didn't know what
 was  happening. I  was pushing it to the  right a few times and I was pressure
 reading my putting on the greens."
 
 Park  did most  of her damage on the  front nine with birdies on one, five and
 six  to go  along with a bogey on  four. She closed out her round with 11 pars
 and one birdie on 13, getting her to within two of the lead.
 
 NOTES:  Since missing the  cut at the first event of the season, Sei Young Kim
 has  picked up a  win and four top-10 finishes in six events ... Sei Young Kim
 held  the second-  and third-round leads at the ANA Inspiration two weeks ago,
 only  to  finish tied for fourth  ... I.K. Kim has  gone 89 starts on the LPGA
 Tour without a win. She has three career wins, with the last one coming at the
 2010  Lorena  Ochoa Invitational ... Park  is the highest ranked player in the
 field  this  week. She has one  win and four  top-10 finishes in six events in
 2015, with her worst finish being a tie for 13th ... Suzann Pettersen withdrew
 on Friday due to a shoulder injury.
 
 
              === Malnati, Wittenberg remain on top in Mexico ===
 
 Guanajuato,   Mexico  (SportsNetwork.com)   -  First-round   co-leaders  Peter
 Malnati  and  Casey Wittenberg carded  matching 4-under 68s in Friday's second
 round  and they continue  to share the lead heading into the weekend at the El
 Bosque Mexico Championship.
 
 The  duo finished 36  holes at 11-under-par 133, one shot ahead of Kevin Tway.
 Malnati  and Wittenberg have two wins each on the Web.com Tour. Malnati's last
 one  came  earlier this season  at the  Brasil Champions, while Wittenberg won
 both of his in 2012.
 
 Tway  is alone  in third place at  10-under 134 following his 5-under 67 at El
 Bosque  Country Club.  Chase Wright  (67)  and Luke  List (69)  sit two  shots
 further back at minus-8.
 
 Rob Oppenheim (66), Henrik Norlander (69), Smylie Kaufman (69) and Oliver Goss
 (70) finished the second round tied for sixth at 7-under 137.
 
 Malnati began his round on the front nine and picked up right where he left on
 Thursday.  The 27-year-old got off to a good start by draining a birdie at the
 first. Following three straight pars, Malnati poured in his second gain at the
 par-4 fifth.
 
 Back-to-back  birdies  on eight and nine  had Malnati rolling around the turn,
 but the back nine was not quite as kind.
 
 After  four straight pars  from 10, Malnati traded his first bogey on 14 for a
 birdie  on  15. He did  the same thing  with a  bogey on 17  and a gain on 18.
 Malnati shot even-par on the back nine to finish the day at 4-under and remain
 tied atop the leaderboard.
 
 "The only thing I did today that I regret is that I got pretty conservative on
 the  greens," Malnati admitted.  "I had a lot of putts where I was cautious of
 the  wind  and wound up leaving  several putts short.  I'd like to be a little
 more aggressive tomorrow and not be afraid of the wind and what it can do."
 
 Wittenberg  had a  flawless day, which started  on the back nine. He rolled in
 two birdies on 13 and 18 before making the turn at minus-2.
 
 It  was more of the same on the back side as the 30-year-old made six straight
 pars  from No.  1 before  finishing  strong with  birdies on  seven and  nine,
 completing his bogey-free round.
 
 "My  confidence  has always  been  there.  It's  not  like I'm  searching  for
 something I've never done before," Wittenberg said. "The driver's been good so
 far.  I've  played aggressive and we're  going to keep  it in the bag and keep
 whipping it to see how it goes."
 
 Tway  made three  birdies over his first  five holes before dropping a shot at
 the sixth. It was smooth sailing from there as Tway finished with gains on 11,
 13 and 17 to card his second straight 67.
 
 NOTES:  Wittenberg  was 13-under and held  a 3-shot lead through two rounds at
 this  event in 2011, but he finished tied for ninth ... Malnati currently sits
 atop  the Web.com  Tour money list with  $164,607 ... The cut fell at even-par
 144, with 68 players advancing to play the weekend.
 
 
 04/18 01:35:48 ET