NEW YORK — It was raining bugs on a hot, humid evening. The runways facing Court 3 at the National Tennis Center were crammed with fans rushing into Louis Armstrong Stadium to see the night matches. The lights were flickering.
But Pam Shriver didn't mind. She was stuck on an outer court last night against Rika Hiraki of Japan, and she was going to win a first-round U.S. Open match, 6-1, 6-1.
"I kept saying to myself, 'Put blinders on, Pam,' " Shriver said. "I didn't want to look. You wait all day to play, you get out on to a court at twilight, and the officials tell you that you're going on to a court where the lights aren't up to standard."
The U.S. Open is filled with such distractions. But somehow, the top players survive.
The women's seeds routinely advanced yesterday. For others, there were small struggles played out on the back courts. Elise Burgin of Pikesville, Md., idle in singles since losing in the Wimbledon qualifying tournament, was beaten by Kimberly Po, 6-4, 6-4.
"I'm up three games in each set and I lose and there is no excuse for that," Burgin said. "I practiced hard and I worked hard and I played fine and I really wanted to win. But it's not easy. You start running out of time."
Time may be Shriver's most precious commodity, but she keeps parceling out the minutes.
Sunday, she was named president of the Women's Tennis Association.
"Let's face it, I was vice president for eight years, I wasn't going to turn down the nomination," Shriver said. "They figured someone who worked that long deserved it."