No sooner did Zina Garrison get done saying "I'm maybe going to take a break" after suffering an upset loss Wednesday when she reconsidered and looked to next week's Virginia Slims of Washington to turn her game around.
"I haven't played well all year. I'm tired. I'm stressed out. I feel like I'm not mentally there," Garrison said after the second-round setback in Los Angeles. Then she thought, hey, this is no time for a break, the U.S. Open is coming up. Nation's capital, here I come.
After a couple of anxious moments involving an "it's in the mail" security deposit, all systems are go for the tourney, getting under way Monday in Rock Creek Park. These being the final days leading up to the last big Grand Slam event in Flushing Meadow, N.Y., Aug. 26 to Sept. 8, the Slims boasts a star-studded field.
Besides Garrison, a finalist the last two years when the tourney was on the winter indoor circuit, the cast includes defending champ Steffi Graf, who, pending the results turned in by Monica Seles at a tourney finishing up in L.A. Sunday, goes to the post as the top or second-rated player in women's tennis.
Other top-10ers include Arantxa Sanchez Vicario (4), Mary Joe Fernandez (6) and Jana Novotna (9). Add to these a half-dozen women ranked between 10 and 20 and comebacking Pam Shriver (30), fresh off a three-gold medal performance at the Pan dTC American Games, and it's easy to paint this as the strongest women's field ever assembled here.
Things got a little touchy earlier this week when Bill Shields, spokesman for the National Park Service, threatened to cancel the tournament if the sponsoring Washington Tennis Patrons and ProServ didn't get their $50,000 check in to cover expenses and user fees.
The safety deposit was delivered in advance of the due date, but that didn't seem to matter as all sorts of problems have arisen this summer with the emergence of two big tournaments at the Fitzgerald Tennis Center. The surrounding neighborhoods have been up in arms complaining about traffic jams and community disruption and the fact that the WTA tournament is sponsored by a cigarette company. Activists and politicians feel such an organization should not be allowed to purchase access to federal parklands even if the end result, money benefiting programs for inner city kids, is admirable.
Graf had shoulder problems and hasn't competed for the last two weeks, but is reportedly back and hitting the ball as hard as ever in practice.
Daily sessions go Monday through Friday at noon and 7 p.m. with the final slated for Saturday at 1 p.m.