In Brief | Nation and World April 9


Monfils beats Blake at US Clay Court Championships

HOUSTON — Gael Monfils of France had 15 aces and beat John Blake of the United States 7-6 (5), 7-5 in the first round of the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships on Monday night.

Blake, once ranked No. 4, played his 51st match at River Oaks Country Club where he is a crowd favorite but Monfils won cheers for his hustle playing his first match in the city.

Monfils, who played in only 10 tournaments last year because of a knee injury, matched the sixth-highest total of aces in the tournament. He will next face top-seeded Nicolas Almagro of Spain.

Rhyne Williams of the United States, playing on a wild card, beat Guido Pella of Argentina 7-5, 7-5 in an earlier first-round match.

Robredo, Kavcic advance on red clay in Morocco

CASABLANCA, Morocco — Former top-five player Tommy Robredo of Spain and Blaz Kavcic of Slovenia won the only first-round matches at the Grand Prix Hassan II on Monday.

Robredo, who reached a career-high ranking of No. 5 in 2006 and is now at No. 72, beat Guillaume Rufin of France, 7-6 (2), 6-4.

The 85th-ranked Kavcic eliminated Moroccan wild card Mehdi Ziadi 6-2, 6-4 and will next face top-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland, the 2010 champion.

Ex-Auburn DB pleads guilty to first-degree robbery

OPELIKA, Ala. — Former Auburn defensive back Mike McNeil was sentenced to serve at least three years in prison Monday after pleading guilty to first-degree robbery for an incident his attorney characterized as “possibly a prank.”

Lee County Circuit Judge Christopher Hughes accepted McNeil’s plea deal Monday as his trial was set to begin. Under the deal, McNeil received a 15-year split sentence: He must serve three years, plus three years of supervised probation, and pay $2,000 in restitution. If he violates any terms, the judge could sentence him to the remainder of the 15 years.

McNeil, 24, and three teammates from the Tigers’ 2010 national championship team were charged with armed robbery and dismissed from the team in March 2011. Antonio Goodwin is serving a 15-year sentence while Dakota Mosley and Shaun Kitchens are awaiting trial.

Rutgers reviewing all sports practice videos

TRENTON, N.J. — Rutgers officials are scrutinizing practice videos of all sports to see if any coach engaged in behavior like the type that cost men’s basketball coach Mike Rice his job, the university president announced Monday.

The inquiry into Rice and how university officials responded is also going deeper as the school announced that it plans to hire a consultant to conduct an independent review.

University President Robert Barchi, speaking Monday during a town hall meeting on the school’s Newark campus, said he wants any instances of bullying or homophobic language to be reported immediately.

Joe Flacco to portray Johnny Unitas in movie

BALTIMORE — Joe Flacco as Johnny Unitas.

The Ravens’ quarterback says he’ll play the part of Baltimore’s greatest quarterback, former Colts star Johnny Unitas, in an upcoming movie entitled “Unitas We Stand.”

The movie is being co-produced by Joe Unitas, the late quarterback’s son.

He tells WBAL-TV that Flacco will portray Unitas in scenes of the 1958 NFL championship game, in which Unitas led the Colts to victory over the New York Giants. The game at Yankee Stadium ended in sudden-death overtime and has been called the greatest NFL game ever played.

Flacco, who led the Ravens to a Super Bowl victory in February and was the game’s MVP, said on Twitter that he’s excited by the opportunity.

Filming is scheduled to start this summer.

Chargers agree with Butler, DePalma, Brown

SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Chargers have agreed to terms with wide receivers Deon Butler and Dan DePalma, and cornerback Cornelius Brown.

The deals for Butler and Brown are for one year. DePalma’s is a two-year deal.

Butler played in 35 games during four seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, catching 57 passes for 611 yards (10.7 average) and four touchdowns.

DePalma spent time on the New York Giants’ practice squad in each of the past two seasons. Brown spent time with the Chicago Bears and Indianapolis Colts. He played in 10 games with the Colts in 2010.

By wire sources