Seles a Strong Maybe for Pilot Pen

While the rest of the crowd at Wimbledon has spent the last couple of days dodging persistent rain drops, Pilot Pen Tennis Tournament Director Anne Worcester has been basking in the good news raining down around her.

Worcester, who is at Wimbledon trying to secure commitments from top-30 players, received her first dose of positive news when the Women’s Tennis Association notified her that the world’s 11th-ranked player, Paola Suarez, committed to play in New Haven.

It didn’t stop there.

Worcester received a fax from Leo Clijsters, the father of Kim Clijsters, confirming that, contrary to recent published reports, the world’s No. 2-ranked player still plans on entering the Pilot Pen.

Then Worcester heard that former No. 1 Monica Seles said on a Wednesday teleconference that if her injured left foot allowed her to play, she is considering returning to the tour and her first event likely would be the Pilot Pen.

Not a bad couple of days.

Suarez, the world’s top-ranked doubles player, is enjoying her best season at singles. She peaked at No. 9 earlier this month, aided by a run to the French Open semifinals. She is well known in New Haven after winning the 2003 Pilot Pen doubles title with Virginia Ruano Pascual.

“When I got (to Wimbledon), I was in the WTA Worldwide (committee) meetings,” Worcester said. “They asked me if I wanted some good news now or if I wanted to wait until July 12 (when the full playing field is announced).”

When it comes to good news for her tournament, Worcester obviously prefers the present over the future.

“I figured why wait,” said Worcester, who will be at Wimbledon until Sunday. “(Suarez) made the day last year (at the Pilot Pen) after the short singles final (when Lindsay Davenport had to retire against Jennifer Capriati) when she had that memorable doubles final.”

Suarez becomes the sixth top-15 player to commit to the Pilot Pen, which will run from Aug. 20-28 at the Connecticut Tennis Center.

Seles, who reached the 2000 final in her last appearance at the Pilot Pen, hasn’t played a tour match since losing in the first round of the 2003 French Open after being hampered by a stress fracture in her left foot. She plans on playing in three matches for the New York Sportimes in World Team Tennis between July 8-11.

If her foot responds favorably, Seles said she would consider a return to the WTA tour.

“I would like to play a tournament before the (U.S.) Open and (then) the Open,” Seles said.

“(The Pilot Pen) is one of my favorite tournaments and I would like to play there, that is the one I am looking at. But right now, I don’t even want to look that far ahead.”

Worcester said she would offer one of the Pilot Pen’s three wild cards to Seles if the 53-time WTA singles champion requests entry into the tournament.

Worcester also said that she isn’t expecting to hear anything from (No. 7) Capriati, (No. 10) Serena Williams and (No. 8) Venus Williams — the top three uncommitted American players — until the days leading up to the entry deadline on Aug. 19.

Worcester is hopeful that top 10 players and Pilot Pen regulars (No. 3) Anastasia Myskina, (No. 4) Amelie Mauresmo and (No. 6) Elena Dementieva will commit to the Pilot Pen before she heads home.

The deadline for the main draw, with the exception of the three wild cards, is July 5 with the field being announced on July 12.

“We are hoping we get at least one of them,” Worcester said. “Every (uncommitted player) ranked 11 to 25 we will sit down with so we can have the same strong competition we always have.”