ATLANTA -- There was a buzz in the Hawks locker room after their long-awaited first look at their new starting five together.Clearly, Atlantas new big man has generated big expectations for the season.The Hawks final home preseason game on Tuesday night provided the first chance for forward Paul Milsap, who has made three straight All-Star teams, to play beside center Dwight Howard, an eight-time All-Star and three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year.Milsap was brought along slowly following a non-surgical procedure before training camp to reduce swelling in his right knee before making his first start in Atlantas 96-89 preseason win over New Orleans.Seeing Howard and Milsap finally playing together boosted small forward Kent Bazemores enthusiasm for the season.The ball moves really well for us, Bazemore said. Paul and Dwight have really good chemistry and theyre going to be passing the ball a lot to each other ... so they looked really good tonight.Howard signed a three-year, $70.5 million deal in July, giving Atlanta the legitimate center it lacked through much of the Al Horford era.Horford, now with Boston, was a big reason the Hawks reeled off nine straight playoff seasons, but even he said he wasnt a true NBA center. No one has ever said that about Howard, whose defensive rebounds and blocked shots have coach Mike Budenholzer thinking about fast-break opportunities.Howard, entering his 13th NBA season, is still only 30. He sees his move to his hometown as a fresh start and an opportunity to repair his reputation following eight seasons with Orlando, one with the Lakers and the last three with Houston.I really want to show the Hawks fans how dedicated I am to winning, Howard said. I think a lot of people have probably got it twisted with the things that have happened in my past but Im very dedicated to this sport, very dedicated to myself and winning and being whatever I can be for this team.---Here are some other things to know about the Hawks:NEW POINT: The other new piece in Atlantas lineup is point guard Dennis Schroder, who moves up after playing behind Jeff Teague for three years. Bazemore said Schroder, like Howard, boosts the Hawks defense. Defensively hes a stud and thats where it starts, Bazemore said. Weve got one of the best on-the-ball defenders in the league at point guard. Its just a pleasure playing with him and the grit he brings every night. Its huge for us.DELANEY THE BACKUP: Schroders backup will be rookie Malcolm Delaney. Veteran Jarrett Jack, who was still recovering from surgery to repair torn ligaments in his right knee last season with the Nets, was released on Thursday. Delaney, from Virginia Tech, has played in Europe for five years. Budenholzer said Delaney is not your typical rookie. ... I just feel very good about the way he has progressed and fit in with the group.KORVERS ROLE: Kyle Korver, 35, likely will open the season as the starting shooting guard, but for how long? The 3-point specialist saw his scoring average fall from 12.1 in 2014-15 to 9.2 last season. The Hawks could bring Korver off the bench if they opt for a bigger lineup with Bazemore at shooting guard and rookie Taurean Prince (6-8, 220) or Thabo Sefolosha (6-7, 220) at small forward.FOR OPENERS: The Hawks open at home against Washington on Thursday. After trying a later 8 p.m. tipoff for most home games last season, most night games will start at 7:30 p.m. this season.THE TRY FOR 10: The nine straight playoff seasons is the longest in franchise history and the longest active streak in the Eastern Conference. The Hawks set a franchise record with 60 wins in 2014-15, when they made their first appearance in the Eastern Conference finals. 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United chose the defender in the second round of the 2013 MLS re-entry draft. Serena Williams lost her hold on the No. 1 ranking on Monday for the first time since February 2013. Venus Williams, the next-best American at No. 7, is 36 years old. Its certainly premature to say the reign of the Williams sisters is near, but its also only natural to spend a bit of this day wondering about the future of American tennis.Without a doubt, the crystal ball has a rosy tint.First, theres the known quality in young Americans like Madison Keys (ranked ninth), Sloane Stephens (28), Shelby Rogers (62), CiCi Bellis (120) and Taylor Townsend (144). But theres another, perhaps more significant, sign of growth: quantity. Ten American girls advanced to the round of 16 in the junior draw at the US Open. Thats the most at the Open since 1984, when the draw expanded to 64 players.And, 16-year-old American Kayla Day won the title to snap a streak of 15 junior majors without an American champion. Day was the first American to win the girls title at the Open since Samantha Crawford in 2012.I think there will be a lot of good pros just not, you know, Serena and Venus, said Day, who fell to Keys in the main draw before running the table in the juniors, capped by a 6-3, 6-2 win over Viktoria Kuzmova of Slovakia. I think thats really good, getting American tennis [back] to what it was 10 or 15 years ago when we were dominating the European countries.USTA head of womens tennis Ola Malmqvist agrees that theres reason for optimism.I think for a few years, I dont think a lot of our players were working hard enough, said Malmqvist, who added that it has been the mission of USTA player development to change the culture within its program. [The culture] needs to be more about hard work with a purpose. I think thats part of it.Under the leadership of Martin Blackman, who took over the position of player development general manager for Patrick McEnroe in 2014, Malmqvist says that the USTA has developed a strong structure and expanded its partnership with the private coaching sector to reach players all over the country.Malmqvists goal for the USTA is to launch 20 players into the WTA top 100, increasing the odds of producing Grand Slam champions. There has been little depth among Americans ovver the past decade when it comes to contending for Grand Slam titles.dddddddddddd Its been 11 years since Lindsay Davenport became the last American excluding the Williams sisters to reach a Grand Slam final. In 2005, Davenport went head-to-head with Serena Williams in the Australian Open final and Venus Williams in the Wimbledon final. Unfortunately for Davenport, she was the runner-up on both occasions.Currently, the United States has the most players of any country in the top 100 with 14, and the most players in the top 10 with three -- the Williams sisters and Keys.Were not on the top of the hill yet, but we are getting pretty close to the top of the hill to really start taking off, Malmqvist said. We are going to keep pushing for it and look for better ways for us to do a better job.The good feeling extends down to that next wave of players.I am glad that the hard work is paying off and Im glad that we are seeing changes, said Ashley Lahey, a 16-year-old freshman at Pepperdine who fell to fellow American Sofia Kenin, 17, in the round of 16. Because tennis has been really dominated by European and Asian players for the last however many years.Carson Branstine, who was ousted by Day in the quarterfinals after beating Olesya Pervushina, the third-ranked junior in the world, is on board as well.There are definitely a lot of girls with talent in the juniors and young pros, the 16-year-old Branstine said. I think for sure we are going to have at least a few of them come through.But when it comes to replacing one of the greatest athletes of all time in Serena Williams, Malmqvist reminded that it is no easy void to fill, regardless of the programs in place and the work ethic instilled.Youre talking about the greatest ever, said Malmqvist, who was a USTA coach for 10 years before being named the head of womens tennis. I believe we do have a few players who do have the ability to win Grand Slams, and that is definitely a goal of ours. 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