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SPORTSBRIEFING

Cleveland officials will get a raise

CLEVELAND — High school football will go on as scheduled in Cleveland this season.

The Cleveland Football Officials Association has agreed to honor all varsity football contracts when the season opens Aug. 18 after conference representatives and administrators recently approved a new pay scale for high school officials. Officials threatened to boycott the season opener if they did not get a pay raise.

The new pay structure for CFOA varsity officials will $80 per game in 2022-23, $90 in 2023-24, $90 in 2024-25 and $100 in 2025-26 and 2026-27.

Eckersley to retire from broadcasts

BOSTON (AP) — Hall of Fame pitcher Dennis Eckersley said Monday that he will be leaving the Boston Red Sox broadcasts at the end of the season, his 50th in Major League Baseball.

Eckersley, who was drafted by Cleveland as a California high schooler in 1972, went on to pitch 24 seasons as both a 20-win starter and a 50-save reliever for Cleveland, Boston, the Cubs, Oakland and the Cardinals. He won the AL Cy Young and MVP awards in 1992 while playing for the Athletics.

He joined NESN in 2003 and stood out for his outspoken and colorful analysis on the Red Sox broadcasts.

“After 50 years in Major League Baseball, I am excited about this next chapter of my life,” Eckersley said. “I will continue to be an ambassador for the club and a proud member of Red Sox Nation, while transitioning to life after baseball alongside my wife Jennifer, my children and my grandchildren.”

Eckersley, 67, was a six-time All-Star who went 197-171 with a 3.50 ERA in a career in which he pitched 100 complete games as a starter before pioneering the role of the one-inning closer and earning 390 saves.

Serena Williams earns first win of season

TORONTO (AP) — Serena Williams hadn’t won in so long, she said she couldn’t even remember the feeling.

She picked up her first victory since the 2021 French Open on Monday, beating Nuria Parrizas-Diaz 6-3, 6-4 at the women’s National Bank Open.

“I’m just happy to get a win. It’s been a very long time, I forgot what that felt like,” Williams said.

It’s just the second tournament of the season for the 40-year-old Williams, who returned to competition at Wimbledon just over a month ago. The 23-time Grand Slam champion fell in the first round to Harmony Tan in three sets at the All England Club.

Before then, she last competed at the 2021 Wimbledon tournament, where she retired in the middle of her first match due to a torn hamstring suffered after slipping on the grass surface.

Williams, who will turn 41 at the end of September, will next face either 12th-ranked Belinda Bencic or Tereza Martincova.

Williams has won this tournament three times and reached the final in her last appearance at the hardcourt event in 2019, losing to Bianca Andreescu when she was forced to stop because of injury.

But Williams has played little since and knows she needs time on the court.

“I feel good, I felt like I competed well today. I think that’s what I needed to do, is just compete,” she said. “Mentally, I’m getting there. I’m not where I normally am (or) where I want to be. Any match I play, whether I win or lose, helps me.

“I haven’t played a lot in the last year, (even) two years. I think that helps me physically. I feel much better in practice, it’s just getting that to the court. Literally, I’m the kind of person (where) it takes one or two things and then it clicks.”

Williams started out strong, taking the first two games with relative ease.

Parrizas-Diaz tied it 2-2, but despite Williams’ struggles at certain points, the 31-year-old Spaniard couldn’t find enough of a consistent flow to get ahead. Williams found her rhythm, mixing solid touch with her signature power and putting shot after shot out of Parrizas-Diaz’s reach.

Williams’ effort had the fans on their feet roaring and some even bowing.

Williams won the final three games to take the first set, then surged ahead in the second after the 57th-ranked Parrizas-Diaz took a 4-3 lead. She endured a nine-deuce game to hold serve and even the set, then broke in the next game before serving out the victory.

While Williams says the end of her remarkable career is in sight, she’s enjoying her time and staying in the moment.

“I’m getting closer to the light. Lately, that’s been it, I can’t wait to get to that light,” she said, adding the light represents “freedom.”

“I love playing though, it’s amazing,” she added. “I can’t do this forever, so sometimes you just want to try your best to enjoy the moments and do the best that you can.”

Potters fall at home

EAST LIVERPOOL — West Branch’s girls tennis team beat East Liverpool 4-1 on Monday at Thompson Park.

Ally Zion, LilyAnn Bonar and Autumn Johnson were singles winners, while the doubles team of Kate Slutz and Niah Muniz were winners.

West Branch is at East Palestine on Wednesday.

Durant wants to be traded

Kevin Durant has again told Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai that he wants to be traded, reiterating a request he first made nearly six weeks ago, a person with knowledge of the matter confirmed Monday night.

Durant also told Tsai that he has concerns about the Nets’ direction under coach Steve Nash and general manager Sean Marks, said the person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither the perennial All-Star nor the team confirmed details of the talks publicly.

The Athletic first reported details of the latest Durant-Tsai meeting.

“Our front office and coaching staff have my support,” Tsai tweeted Monday night. “We will make decisions in the best interest of the Brooklyn Nets.”

This is the latest phase of a saga that began June 30, when Durant told the Nets he wanted a trade just as this summer’s free agent period was beginning. Durant isn’t a free agent; he has four years and $198 million remaining on his contract with the Nets, who will undoubtedly demand a haul of players and draft picks in any trade agreement for the 12-time All-Star, four-time scoring champion, three-time Olympic gold medalist and two-time NBA champion.

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