For Shriver, goal of charity festival eclipses Open doubles win

September 12, 1991|By Bill Free

Four days ago at the U.S. Open, the words flowed easily for Pam Shriver after she had won her 22nd Grand Slam women's doubles title.

"When I came back at age 28, I thought I had one more great moment left in me," said Shriver, who was out seven months in 1990 for shoulder surgery.

"That's what you live for as an athlete -- to hug somebody and to cry and to have that moment when you're on top of the world looking down on everybody else."

However, yesterday, Shriver was making plans for a sixth straight year to help lift up those less fortunate than her with a charity tennis event that continues to grow.

She announced plans for her First National Bank Tennis Festival presented by The Baltimore Sun, on Nov. 26 at 7 p.m. at the Baltimore Arena.

The event will feature a best-of-three singles match between Jennifer Capriati, 15, and Martina Navratilova, 34.

Proceeds from the festival will go to the Children's Hospital and Center for Reconstructive Surgery, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the Greater Baltimore Tennis Patrons Association.

More than $865,000 has been raised since Shriver founded the event in 1986, and the 1991 goal is to surpass $1 million.

Shriver and local pro Elise Burgin also are scheduled to play, and invitations to participate in the pro celebrity portion of the event have been sent to Baltimore Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken and former Orioles great Jim Palmer.

Ripken and Palmer have played in the First National Bank Tennis Festival in the past.

The Capriati-Navratilova match will be a rematch of this year's Wimbledon quarterfinals (won by Capriati in two sets when Navratilova double-faulted on match point).

It will bring together the last of the top old-guard women's players against the youngest star in the game.

Capriati, No. 6 in the world, and Navratilova, No. 4, are the top two Americans on the women's tour.

"It's the future of the game against someone whose best years are most likely behind her," said Shriver.

"There are a lot of contrasts in this match. You have a 15-year-old against a 34-year-old, a baseliner [Capriati] against someone who serves and volleys all day, and a person who was born in Czechoslovakia [Navratilova, who became a U.S. citizen] against a girl who grew up in Florida and hits backhands all day long."

Shriver called this year's match "about even" in prestige to last year's headliner when Monica Seles defeated Capriati before 10,000 at the Baltimore Arena.

"The 10,000 was the most ever for a tennis event in the state of Maryland," Shriver said.

"This year, one of my two goals is to sell out the Baltimore Arena [seating capacity is 12,506]. The other is to go over $1 million."

Shriver said the importance of her doubles victory Sunday pales in comparison over the long run to the charity festival.

"When you win a big-league event, it's a feeling you never forget," she said.

"That kind of joy is a sudden rush, but this is what life is all about. As an athlete, we have the potential to help so much. I'm more proud of this than anything else I do in tennis in the state."

Shriver said the festival has become successful enough that she is able to delegate authority to run it.

"In the beginning, I was taking time away from my game to work on this and I might have regretted it some day," said Shriver. "Now the festival is able to pay some salaries for people to work."

NOTES: Shriver praised the First National Bank of Maryland for its help: "It is one of the great corporate citizens in the city. Unfortunately, there are not enough of them around. Through the continuous efforts of First National Bank of Maryland and The Baltimore Sun, we are confident we will reach and surpass the $1 million mark in 1991."

How to get tickets

Tickets ranging from $9 for reserved seats to $75 for courtside seats are on sale for Pam Shriver's Sixth Annual First National Bank Tennis Festival presented by The Baltimore Sun at the Baltimore Arena on Nov. 26 at 7 p.m.

They can be purchased at the Baltimore Arena box office and at all TicketMaster locations.

To charge tickets by phone, call (301) 481-6000.

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