Americans drop two matches to Belgium in Fed Cup
Melanie Oudin and Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the United States lost their singles matches Saturday, giving Belgium a 2-0 lead in the first-round Fed Cup matchup. Oudin lost to Australian Open winner Kim Clijsters 6-0, 6-4, and Mattek-Sands fell 6-1, 7-6 (6) to Yanina Wickmayer in the opening match.
The United States played without the injured Williams sisters. Venus Williams strained her groin at the Australian Open, and Serena Williams has been sidelined with a foot injury since winning Wimbledon.
Belgium competed without Justine Henin, who retired last week because of an elbow injury.
In other Fed Cup matches, defending champion Italy and Australia tied 1-1. Flavia Pennetta edged Samantha Stosur 7-6 (5), 6-7 (5), 6-4, and Jarmila Groth upset French Open champion Francesca Schiavone 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-3. France leads Russia 2-0 after Maria Sharapova and Svetlana Kuznetsova lost their matches. Virginie Razzano defeated Sharapova 6-3, 6-4 after Alize Cornet rallied to beat Kuznetsova 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. The Czech Republic has a 2-0 lead over Slovakia. Lucie Safarova beat Daniela Hantuchova 7-5, 6-1, and Petra Kvitova stopped Dominika Cibulkova 6-2, 6-3.
Clijsters is the favorite to clinch the event Sunday when she plays Mattek-Sands in reverse singles.
"Everybody always expects a lot, but it isn't always that easy," said the second-ranked Clijsters.
Clijsters cruised in the first set against the 61st-ranked Oudin. The 19-year-old from Marietta, Ga., put up a better challenge in the second set.
"It kind of got in my head, and I was just tight out there in the beginning," Oudin said.
Rifle clinches regular-season title
The Kentucky rifle team rode a school-record team score to a 4696-4680 win over No. 1 West Virginia, clinching the 2010-11 Great American Rifle Conference regular-season championship, on Saturday at UK's Barker Hall.
"I was really proud of the team; they really did great," UK Coach Harry Mullins said. "This was the first step in our journey this year. We wanted to win the regular-season championship, and I am excited that we were able to meet that goal. But now we need to get focused on the second leg in the journey, because the post-season is here, and there are two more trophies that are bigger than the regular-season."
Kentucky (10-1, 6-0 GARC) completed an undefeated season in conference action with the win, besting the Mountaineers, who also entered the match undefeated in league play. West Virginia is led by world champion Nicco Campriani — who recently recorded a perfect 600 total score in air rifle. The Mountaineers owned the highest team score recorded on the season, leading to a No. 1 national ranking.
With the win, UK clinched its fourth all-time regular-season GARC Championship and its first since the 2008-09 season. Kentucky's 4696 total team score eclipsed the school record, set earlier in the year when the Wildcats totaled a 4691 win over Memphis in Oxford, Miss., on Jan. 21. The Wildcats return to action on Feb. 12, hosting the NCAA Qualifying Round at UK's Barker Hall. UK will face West Virginia twice more on the year, at the GARC Championships (Feb. 25) and at the NCAA Championships (March 9).
Uga VIII buried outside stadium
Uga VIII, Georgia's white English bulldog mascot, has been buried at Sanford Stadium beside his predecessors. The dog served as mascot for only half of a season before his death from lymphoma on Friday. Uga VIII, only 17 months old, lived with the Frank W. "Sonny" Seiler family of Savannah, Ga. The family says Uga VIII was buried Saturday in a private ceremony. Wendy Seiler, whose husband Charles is the mascot's chief handler, said Uga VIII was on his bed with his toys when he died in his sleep. Uga VIII was diagnosed with the cancer in early January. Uga VIII took over last season for Russ, Uga VII's half brother who filled in as mascot in 2009 and early in 2010. Russ again will step in as the school's mascot.
■ The lawyer for a man charged in a fight that led to the stabbing death of a University of Connecticut football player says his client could receive probation.
A pretrial hearing in the case against 23-year-old Johnny Hood of Hartford is scheduled for Tuesday at Rockville Superior Court.
Hood faces misdemeanor charges of breach of peace and interfering with police in connection with the October 2009 fight in Storrs that killed football player Jasper Howard.
The accused killer, John Lomax III of Bloomfield, pleaded no contest to manslaughter and awaits sentencing.
Hood's lawyer, Justin Freeman, said he's hoping for a final action in Hood's case Tuesday. He said accelerated rehabilitation is a possibility. The program allows charges to be dropped after a probation period.
■ Top offensive line prospect Cyrus Kouandjio has opted to play for Alabama instead of Crimson Tide rival Auburn.
Alabama received a faxed letter of intent from Kouandjio (kwan'-RO) on Saturday.
Kouandjio of DeMatha High School in Maryland is regarded as the nation's No. 1 offensive tackle and one of the top five prospects overall. He committed to Auburn on national TV Wednesday but never sent the binding letter of intent.
Tournament canceled over match fixing
Japan's sumo association says it has canceled its tournament next month due to a match-fixing scandal. Nobuyuki Kubota, an official for the Japan Sumo Association, said Sunday the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament from March 13-27 has been called off. The cancellation was the first since 1946 when Ryogoku Kokugikan, Japan's main sumo venue, had to be renovated because of damage from World War II. The association said the cancellation due to a scandal was unprecedented. The bout-rigging scandal is the latest blow for sumo, which is reeling from a string of recent embarrassing incidents, including illegal gambling and drug use among wrestlers.
The last word
Stephen Colbert of Comedy Central on Sunday's Super Bowl being the first to feature no cheerleaders:
"What will we watch between concussions?"