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Tennis Star Jennifer Capriati Charged With Marijuana Possession

May 17, 1994

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) _ As a precocious 14-year-old, Jennifer Capriati gave the veterans of tennis all kinds of trouble. Now, at 18, Capriati is the one finding trouble.

The tennis star was arrested Monday on marijuana possession charges after police looking for a runaway searched her $50-a-night motel room.

Capriati was released and an arraignment date will be set within five days, said Mort Lucoff, a spokesman for Dade County courts. If convicted of the misdemeanor, she will probably have only to submit to counseling, he said.

Her arrest came five months after she was cited by Tampa police for allegedly shoplifting a $15 ring from a mall.

Capriati could not be reached for comment. Her lawyer, John Ross, did not immediately return a call to his office. His home number is unlisted. Barbara Perry, Capriati’s agent, had no immediate comment.

Her younger brother, Steven, who said he spoke to Capriati by telephone, told The New York Times she ″was crying a little bit, but was OK.″

Police went to the Gables Inn after receiving an anonymous tip that a 17- year-old runaway girl was in Capriati’s room, police said. Capriati let detectives search the room, and marijuana was found in her knapsack, police said.

While police were conducting the search, the runaway and 19-year-old Tom Wineland of Key Biscayne drove up in Capriati’s sports car, and they, too, were charged with drug offenses, Sgt. Mitch Fry said.

The runaway was charged with possession of heroin and released to her parents. Wineland was charged with possession of suspected crack and drug paraphernalia and was jailed on $6,000 bail.

Fry said he didn’t know how the three knew one another.

Capriati had recently been living in Boca Raton with friends after moving out of her parents’ home near Tampa. She told Sports Illustrated she was ″chillin’, just having fun,″ and taking SAT preparation classes at Florida Atlantic University.

Capriati turned pro at 13 and won her first pro tournament a year later.

In 1990, at 15, she became the youngest player to win a match at Wimbledon. She reached the Wimbledon semifinals in 1991 and has a career record of 149-45.

She has won more than $1.5 million as a professional.

Capriati has not played tennis since losing in the first round of the U.S. Open last August. She left the tour because of an injured elbow. In January, she said she wouldn’t return to playing until after her high school graduation in June.

She later began talking about the importance of having a life outside tennis.

In December, Capriati was acccused of shoplifting in Tampa. Her agent said she had absent-mindedly wandering off with a silver ring. The matter was settled without penalty; she was a juvenile at the time.

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