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Aug. 18, 2004

USCSPORTS.COM caught up with another Olympian today. This one, Maxsy Jimenez, is the captain of the women’s tennis team for Venezuela. Maxsy Jimenex, played tennis for USC and graduated in 1997 with a degree in Retailing. Married to former swimmer Allison Kemmerling, Maxsy, a former All-SEC player under Coach DeMars has been teaching and working with world class junior and professional tennis players in Tampa. The Jimenez’s have an eight month old son, Max Gabriel. Maxsy visited with to talk about his pupil playing the No. 1 tennis player in the world today, the opening ceremonies and things that have surprised him thus far in Athens.

USC: What are you coaching in Athens?

MJ: I am coaching the women’s singles tennis event.

USC: Your pupil Maria Maria Vento-Kabcahi is playing the No. 1 seed, Belgium’s Justine Henin-Hardenne, on Tuesday. What advice have you given her?

MJ: Maria had her own game plan. I will simply support her throughout the match.

USC: Has Maria ever played Justine?

MJ: They played before once, Justine won 7-5 6-4. I knew Maria had to play above her capabilities to beat her but Justine showed class.

USC: How exciting is is to be at the Olympics, coaching someone from your home country?

MJ: It’s a great honor to be named Captain of your country’s Olympic team. To share this moment with the NOC, national coaches and our athletes is exhilarating.

USC: How did you come about coaching with the Olympic team?

MJ: Maria asked me last year to train her in Tampa and along the way she asked me to be here with her. So she contacted the Venezuelan tennis federation and it went from there.

USC: How is the venue for tennis?

MJ: They really have a great crowd for this type of event. It’s not quiet – they’re pretty loose and cheer on with passion.

USC: What is your favorite moment thus far?

MJ: Walking into the stadium at the opening ceremony is pretty special. But I’ll tell you listening to my national anthem was at a pre-event ceremony shook my emotions. The opening ceremony was phenomenal. The way they lit the torch was very impressive.

USC: You are staying in the Olympic Village. What can you tell us about the village?

MJ: The Olympic Village’s rooms are simple, big, and full of life with every amenity you can think of.

USC: Who are your roommates in the Village?

MJ: I’m staying with the Track and Field team from Venezuela.

USC: Have you seen much of Athens yet?

MJ: I went to the Acropolis and walked around downtown – that was a lot fun. Also, meeting numerous athletes is always a pleasure.

USC: This is your first Olympics – any surprises?

MJ: This is my first Olympic games. To be honest I was surprised of my ignorance about existing countries I had not heard of. I’m glad I’ve had to ask to educate myself. Also, people go out of their way to help you, that’s precious. In addition, I didn’t know how good Greek food could be and how good in shape regular people are outside the Olympic Village too.

USC: What are you most looking forward to?

MJ: I’m looking forward to celebrating a great moment of performance by one or more of our athletes.

USC: Any special message to the Gamecock family?

MJ:. Keep on going Gamecocks! Only pleasant memories come to mind when I think of USC. I’m proud of having spent part of my life around a team of people that fully supported me unconditionally. Kent Demars, Jeff Kefalos — thank you.

By the way, I just saw former Gamecock standout Lisa Misipeka. We said hello and chatted a little.

Thanks for letting me visit with you – talk to you again soon I hope!