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Chris Evert Will Partner With Mike Greenberg to Qualify for U.S. Open

Mike Greenberg has a reputation as a geek, a nerd, the nonathlete part of the duo that hosts the eponymous, nationally simulcast morning talk show Mike and Mike in the Morning. But Greenberg grew up playing tennis and has apparently always dreamed of competing in the U.S. Open. And recently, he's been working out more and more (thanks to ESPN sponsor P90X). Now, the 43-year-old Greenberg has decided to "take a shot at living out a dream" -- with a little help from all-time tennis great and South Florida native Chris Evert.

For the first time, the mixed-doubles part of the tournament is open to public qualifiers though a system of regional "playoff" tournaments.

Greenberg -- known to ESPN fans as "Greenie" -- called Evert at her home this morning and announced that she would be his partner. She mostly laughed through the conversation.

"I am more than happy to help you fulfill your dream," Evert said.

"I know Mike is a big tennis fan and loves the U.S. Open," she said on the air. "The U.S. Open was the first tournament that sort of started my career, and I have great memories of it, and I love to support it. We'll just go out there and have some fun. That's the main thing." She added: "Let's not have high expectations with this."

Evert, an 18-time grand-slam champion, has the highest winning percentage in the history of women's tennis. Now she runs a tennis academy in Boca Raton with her brother, John. Though Evert merely invited Greenberg down to the academy today, knowing the multiplatform promotional habits of the giant sports network, this could very well be some form of product placement. Knowing Evert's philanthropic history, however, this could just as easily be some grand fundraiser.

Either way, the new team will have to win at least six matches to qualify for the big tournament. The first is slotted for April 18 at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York, and will surely receive thousands of mentions in the coming weeks.

At one point during this morning's on-air conversation, Greenberg joked that his partner, Mike Golic, should sign up too and that he could partner with Martina Navratilova -- Chris Evert's longtime tennis rival.

"Oh my God," Evert said. "I don't want to play against her for the 800th time."

By the way, registration for Florida's qualifier is still open.

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Michael J. Mooney

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