Shriver's cause helps trio forget effects of losses

September 29, 1994|By Brad Snyder | Brad Snyder,Sun Staff Writer

Todd Martin lost the deciding match in the Davis Cup semifinals.

Jim Courier lost his desire (temporarily) to play tennis.

John McEnroe lost a close friend.

Yet all three of these American tennis stars will be appearing and are eager to compete at Pam Shriver's Signet Bank Tennis Challenge tonight at 7 at the Baltimore Arena. The event benefits the Baltimore Community Foundation, which helps children's-related charities.

"It's for a good cause. I don't care what state of mind I'm in," Courier said this week. "I want to do this for Pam and for the cause."

Courier recently took two weeks off after a second-round loss at the U.S. Open. Last month he said he was "mentally tired" after a second-round loss in Indianapolis.

Martin is physically tired. He played the deciding match of the Davis Cup semifinals on Sunday with heavily bandaged lower legs.

McEnroe, who agreed at the U.S. Open to play in this event, is emotionally tired. His close friend, Vitas Gerulaitis, died of carbon-monoxide poisoning shortly after the Open.

Shriver said a one-night exhibition like this will help them recover from their losses. They will find out "whether or not the juices are flowing to play competitive tennis."

"It's a good time for me to play and get some match practice," Courier said.

For the fans, it is a chance to see two former No. 1 players, Courier and McEnroe, and possibly a future No. 1 in Martin, who is ranked fifth.

"Courier was No. 1 because of his dedication, desire and determination. When McEnroe was No. 1, he was a superior talent, a genius, if you will," Shriver said. "It's funny, Todd Martin is sort of in the middle. But he has that kind of talent [to be No. 1]."

Courier, Martin and McEnroe will play one set against each other in a round-robin singles format. The match order is Courier vs. Martin, Martin vs. McEnroe, and finally Courier vs. McEnroe.

The two players who have won the most sets (or if there is a tie, lost the fewest number of games) will play a one-set final, said tournament director Robin Serody.

Serody said there will be no doubles because tournament officials could not find a fourth male player.

"It's been a scramble, to say the least," Serody said.

Last-minute replacement Jimmy Arias, suffering from a bad case of the flu, pulled out of the event yesterday. American Brian MacPhie withdrew last week after suffering a shoulder injury. And the original fourth, Guillermo Vilas, returned to his native Argentina because of a family emergency.

SIGNET BANK CHALLENGE

What: A round-robin tournament featuring Jim Courier, Todd Martin and John McEnroe. Proceeds will benefit the Baltimore Community Foundation for children's-related charities.

Where: Baltimore Arena

When: Tonight, 7

Tickets: Prices range from $9 to $75 and are available at the Baltimore Arena and all Ticketmaster outlets. Call (410) 481-SEAT.

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