The athlete, 30, will date women in their 20s and 40s on NBC's Age of Love

By Pamela Warrick
May 10, 2007 09:40 AM

Dimples? Check. Money? Check. Loves his mom? Check. So why is tennis superstar Mark Philippoussis looking for love? “I am so shy,” he tells PEOPLE. “I would just really like to meet someone.”

NBC to the rescue. This week, PEOPLE has learned, the network will name Philippoussis as star of Age of Love, a new Bachelor-esque summer series with a twist.

In this mating game, half the women are in their 20’s and half in their 40’s. “Age doesn’t matter to me,” says Philippoussis, 30. “All the women are beautiful.”

He didn’t always feel that way: At first he was unnerved by the notion of making out with older women. “Until now, the oldest woman I’ve ever gone out with was four years younger than me,” he says, noting that the youngest, a 19-year-old, was 10 years his junior.

Once ranked among the world’s top tennis stars, Philippoussis has been sidelined by a series of knee surgeries. But worse, he says, he’s been single since last August. And he wants the world to know that despite tab reports, he has “never, ever dated Paris Hilton or Tara Reid.”

In hopes of returning to Wimbledon’s Centre Court in June – he made it to the finals in 2003 – Philippousis has been playing tennis four times a week with friend Gavin Rossdale at the Beverly Hills estate the rocker shares with wife Gwen Stefani and son Kingston.

Rossdale is one of a handful of people who knew about Age of Love. “Gavin said to me, ‘Wow. You could change the dating habits of all mankind!’ ” Philippousis says.

But for now, he’s just “a simple guy who wants a simple girl.” One who must meet certain standards: If she smokes, forget it. Ditto for anyone who doesn’t like dogs. Says Philippoussis, “I just don’t see how that could ever work.”

That’s because his 4-month-old Rottweiler puppy, Kya, is the No. 1 girl in his life right now. “When I turn out the lights, she gets up on the bed and puts her front paws on my shoulders and she kisses me goodnight,” he says. “Now that’s love.”

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