Legion playoffs begin today

The first round of the American Legion State Playoffs kicks off tonight with three area teams involved in best-of-five series.

Rock Hill (12-8) hosts Walhalla (11-6). That game begins at 7:30 p.m. at The Winthrop Ballpark.

Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students.

Chester (12-8) travels to Greenwood (12-5), while Lancaster (15-5) entertains Easley (10-6). Both games begin at 7:30. Teams switch sites Tuesday.

• PRO TENNIS -- Russia eliminated the United States in the Fed Cup semifinals, overcoming Venus Williams' singles victory Sunday and advancing with a win in the decisive doubles match.

Nadia Petrova and Elena Vesnina topped Williams and Lisa Raymond 7-5, 7-6 (1) to win the series for Russia 3-2.

Williams beat Anna Chakvetadze, 6-1, 6-4 in the first match of the day, but Petrova forced the tiebreaking doubles match with an easy 6-1, 6-2 win over Meilen Tu, 6-1, 6-2.

Russia will next face Italy for the Fed Cup championship in September.

• PRO BASKETBALL -- The NBA players association is considering an appeal of the seven-game suspensions given to Ron Artest and Stephen Jackson for legal issues.

Both players were suspended by the league Saturday without pay and are scheduled to miss the first seven games of next season. Artest would lose a little more than $470,000 in salary, about $50,000 more than Jackson.

The seven-game bans topped the five games Ruben Patterson was hit with in 2001 after he entered a modified guilty plea in Washington state to third-degree attempted rape for allegedly forcing his children's nanny to perform a sex act on him. Three years ago, Eddie Griffin was penalized three games after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge in Texas.

• WNBA -- The WNBA announced a new television contract with ESPN/ABC in a landmark deal that will give the league rights fees for the first time.

The eight-year deal, which will also include rights for digital media, will begin in 2009 and go through the league's 20th season in 2016. The current six-year contract expires at the end of next season.

"It's a tremendous vote of confidence," WNBA president Donna Orender said before the league's All-Star game. "It's a tremendous vote of affirmation and validation of 11 years of hard work of the athletes of the WNBA, the consistent growth of talent that we have and the growth in our fan base."

• BOXING -- Arturo Gatti decided his most recent beating was his last.

The two-time world champion retired Saturday after being stopped in the seventh round by Alfonso Gomez in a 147-pound bout.

A stunned crowd of more than 9,000 in Atlantic City -- where Gatti is almost as revered as New Jersey icons Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi -- looked on with a mix of surprise and sadness as Gomez punished his former idol.

• LOCAL BASEBALL -- The Carolina Reds 16-Under team won the 18-Under Sundrop Summer Championship Tournament this weekend in Charlotte with a perfect 4-0 record.

The Reds opened the tournament on Saturday with victories over the Cherokee A's, 11-2, and the Denton Pirates, 13-1.

Sunday they defeated the Carolina Gators, 9-5, and Mallard Creek, 9-8.

Leading the Reds were Drew Hardee, Chad Nader, Seth Neely, Justin Boylston and Jonathan Cauthen.