Win in first post-op U.S. tourney gives Shriver 'a good feeling'

February 12, 1991|By Melissa Isaacson | Melissa Isaacson,Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO -- To anyone who has ever seen Pam Shriver in her post-match mode, the right arm covered with ice bags was standard.

What made Shriver smile last night at the University of Illinois, Chicago Pavilion was the rest of the routine was standard as well.

Playing in her first American tournament since undergoing shoulder surgery last summer, Shriver displayed the form that kept her in the top 10 for most of the 1980s, easily dispatching 28th-ranked Meredith McGrath 6-2, 6-3 in the first round of the Virginia Slims of Chicago.

"Right now, any win means a heck of a lot," said Shriver, currently ranked 42nd. "When I think about my last two years in tennis, I've bounced around from not knowing whether or not I was going to keep playing to having to go through a shoulder operation, which affected the part of my game that has always been the most vital part -- my serve.

"So any time I go out and play close to the kind of tennis that I played when I was ranked in the top five in the world, it gives me a good feeling."

After dropping her opening serve, the Lutherville native regained control and allowed McGrath just one more service game until 3-0 in the second.

"That kind of play was reminiscent of three, four, five years ago when I was playing my best tennis," Shriver said.

Consistently, Shriver's first serve, always her strength, was at 80 mph or faster.

"My serve was really a weapon today, and that's wow, it makes me feel really good," Shriver said. "In the last nine months, I've gone from having no arm whatsoever to tonight's forceful serving. It makes me feel good about the rehab that I've done."

Tomorrow, she will meet top-seeded Martina Navratilova, with whom she will be playing doubles for the first time in more than a year.

Navratilova is playing her first tournament in the United States after knee surgery. For both, it signifies a new beginning.

"In some ways," said Shriver, "I feel like a rookie again. But people know about me a little."

The only seeded player on yesterday's schedule was No. 8 Nathalie Tauziat, who defeated Elizabeth Smylie on her fifth match point, 6-2, 6-7 (7-5), 7-5.

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