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USA Hockey, players optimistic about worlds after meeting

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USA Hockey and the women’s national team say their marathon meeting Monday was productive, and they hope to have an agreement this week that will end their ongoing wage dispute and avoid a boycott of the upcoming world championship.

The sides met for more than 10 hours Monday in Philadelphia and will continue discussions later this week. Players announced last week they’d boycott the upcoming world championship in Plymouth, Mich., unless significant progress was made toward a labor agreement.

USA Hockey and players released statements Monday night saying they hoped a deal would be reached in time for the tournament, which begins March 31.

Players said they were hopeful to get an agreement in time to have a training camp and prepare to defend their world championship gold medal on home ice.

“We feel like we made progress today,” star forward Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson said by phone. “They were productive, and we are hopeful that we can come to a timely agreement that would get us to Plymouth in time to prepare as a team so that we could compete in worlds.”

Lamoureux-Davidson, twin sister Monique Lamoureux-Morando, captain Meghan Duggan, Hilary Knight, Kacey Bellamy and Kendall Coyne were among the players who took part in the meeting on the players’ side. President Jim Smith, executive director Dave Ogrean, treasurer Donna Guariglia and director of women’s hockey Reagan Carey were among those representing USA Hockey.

In its statement, USA Hockey said its goal remains to have the team it selected for the world championship still represent the U.S. later this month.

Players said negotiations with USA Hockey had been ongoing for 14 months over fair wages and equitable support. The meeting Monday, which Lamoureux-Davidson said lasted from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., was positive in that the sides were in the same room talking on the verge of training camp, which was scheduled to begin Wednesday.

“We’re hopeful, I guess,” Lamoureux-Davidson said. “This morning (we thought), ‘Wait and see how this goes,’ and after today we’re all hopeful that we can make something work with USA Hockey. We’re hopeful, I think, on both sides.”

Players are pushing to be paid outside the six-month Olympic period, saying USA Hockey pays them nothing for the other 3 ½ years.

USA Hockey said it is not in the business of employing athletes and put out a list of players’ financial demands that players referred to as “patently false.”

Despite trading barbs last week, the sides agreed to meet in downtown Philadelphia the morning after the National Women’s Hockey League final in Boston, which several players took part in. Their lengthy meeting didn’t produce an agreement, but at least the agreement that talks would continue.

“It’s better than walking out saying, ‘This isn’t going to happen,'” Lamoureux-Davidson said. “But we’re hopeful, so that’s a step in the right direction, for sure.”

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U.S., Great Britain to hold track and field dual meet

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The U.S. and Great Britain go head-to-head in a track and field meet on July 21 at the London Olympic Stadium.

“The Meet” will include nine running, jumping, hurdles and relay events and last two hours. Specific events and athletes will be announced early next year.

The U.S. topped the overall medal standings at every Olympics and world outdoor championships since 2004.

Great Britain is one of three countries to earn at least five medals at every Olympics and worlds since 2007, joining the U.S. and Kenya.

British athletes made six podiums at the just-completed worlds at the London Olympic Stadium, including in all four relays. The other two medals came from Mo Farah, who is moving to road racing and marathons after this season.

“The Meet” is similar to swimming’s “Duel in the Pool,” a biennial head-to-head competition between the U.S. and rival Australia from 2003 through 2007 and between the U.S. and Europe between 2009 and 2015.

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Maria Sharapova gets U.S. Open wild card

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NEW YORK (AP) — Maria Sharapova was granted a wild-card invitation for the U.S. Open’s main draw on Tuesday and will take part in a Grand Slam event for the first time in more than 1 ½ years.

Sharapova is among eight women given entry into the 128-player field by the U.S. Tennis Association — and by far the most noteworthy.

The former No. 1-ranked player and owner of five major titles, including the 2006 U.S. Open, has not entered a major tournament since the Australian Open in January 2016, when she tested positive for the newly banned drug meldonium.

That led to a 15-month doping ban, which expired in April. She returned to the tour, but her ranking — currently 148th — was too low to allow entry into major tournaments, and the French Open denied her a wild card. Sharapova planned to try to qualify for Wimbledon, but the 30-year-old Russian wound up skipping the grass-court portion of the season because of an injured left thigh.

Sharapova has been participating in tournaments via wild-card invitations, beginning in April on red clay at Stuttgart, Germany. She’s only played nine matches this season.

Sharapova was 19 when she won her U.S. Open trophy. Two years before, at 17, Sharapova won her first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon. She has since completed a career Grand Slam and become one of the most recognizable — and marketable — athletes in the world.

The U.S. Open starts in Flushing Meadows on Aug. 28.

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