D.C. Slims nearly upset before start Graf's withdrawal just latest problem

August 18, 1991|By Bill Free TVB

There were some rocky moments last week for the $350,000 Virginia Slims of Washington tennis tournament, but the show will go on as scheduled tomorrow.

First, Bill Shields, a spokesman for the National Park Service, threatened to cancel the tournament at the William H. G. Fitzgerald Center in Rock Creek Park if the sponsoring Washington Tennis Patrons and ProServ didn't deliver a $50,000 check to cover expenses and user fees. The security deposit was put up in advance to end that controversy.

Then there were more complaints from people in the surrounding neighborhoods about traffic jams and community disruption caused by a major tennis tournament, and finally three-time Wimbledon champion Steffi Graf withdrew Thursday to undergo more treatment for a torn tendon in her right shoulder.

Graf is ranked No. 2 in the world behind Monica Seles.

Tournament officials said late Friday night that they were seeking a top name replacement for Graf and hoped to have one by noon today.

However, 10 of the 20 top-ranked women in the world will be on the court this week, along with Lutherville's Pam Shriver, who is No. 30 and coming off a three-gold-medal performance in the Pan American Games in Havana.

The top-ranked women are No. 4 Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, No. 6 Mary Joe Fernandez, No. 9 Jana Novotna, No. 11 Zina Garrison, No. 12 Katerina Maleeva, No. 13 Leila Meskhi, No. 14 Nathalie Tauziat, No. 17 Barbara Paulus, No. 18 Judith Wiesner and No. 20 Natalia Zvereva.

They will be tuning up for the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadow, N.Y., Aug. 26 to Sept. 8.

Pikesville's Elise Burgin is not entered in the singles competition but may play doubles if she does not have to go to Flushing Meadow this week to qualify for the U.S. Open.

Garrison, like Shriver, has always been popular with Washington- and Baltimore-area fans and was a late addition to the tournament.

Garrison was given a wild-card berth into the tournament after deciding late last week to play. Garrison was a Virginia Slims of Washington singles finalist in 1990, 1989 and 1984 and a semifinalist in 1985.

Garrison lost to Martina Navratilova last year in the singles final before teaming with Navratilova to win the doubles title.

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