Main draws begin today in clay event


Kati Kocsis reported her score to the tournament desk and groaned when informed of the time of her next match.

"Eight thirty in the morning?" Kocsis said, incredulous. "I'm a little tired."

Small wonder. In five days, the Southern Mississippi freshman played two pre-qualifying and four qualifying matches in the T. Rowe Price National Intercollegiate Clay Court Championships at the Suburban Club.

More are to come. In men's and women's singles, 28 players in each division will be fresh when they enter the main draws today. But the players who will fill out the draws of 32, four men and four women, are weary survivors of five days of qualifying.

"I've only been in the U.S. for five weeks," said Kocsis, a Hungarian who is at Southern Mississippi at the suggestion of a friend who played four years there. "I had no idea how I'd do in the pre-quals and quals. I didn't think. I just came to play."

Aside from Kocsis, the only survivor who came all the way from the pre-qualifier is Texas Tech freshman Petar Danolic. He ousted South Florida's Hiram Silfa, who also came from the prequalifier, 6-2, 6-3.

"Petar's a fitness animal, with the heart of a lion and, at 5-8, 145, the body of a 16-year-old," said Texas Tech assistant coach Steve Moore. "He's just determined to keep one more shot in play. To win three matches in the pre-qual and four in the qual is incredible."

Danolic shrugged at the suggestion he should be tired. "I'm confident," he said. "This is my favorite surface. I'm ready."

The other survivors are Florida International's Gus Lopez, Mississippi State's Thomas Dupre, Duke's Dmitry Muzyka, William and Mary's Michelle O, Old Dominion's Tzipora Obziler and South Alabama's Estelle Gevers.

O, a sophomore, was extended to three sets before upsetting top qualifier Sara Pritchard of Tennessee, 4-6, 7-6, 6-2.

"It was a tough match that came down to who wanted it the most -- me," O said. "It was a matter of being mentally stronger, physically, too, because it was a long match."

Pritchard still made the main draw, however, as a "lucky loser," the beneficiary of an opening created by a player who defaulted because of injury. The spot goes to the highest-ranking loser; Pritchard is No. 47 in the Rolex preseason collegiate rankings.

"I wouldn't even consider Sara's loss an upset," said Tennessee TTC women's coach Mike Patrick. "Michelle is a tough player and the match was close as could be."

Pritchard may get another shot at O today, if both win their opening matches.

Women's singles start today at 8:30, men's at 9:45. Gilman grad Reed Cordish, the only local in the main draw, will face Tennessee's Chris Mahony in the first round. Win or lose, he will play a second match today, as a first-round winner or as a loser in the consolation round.

In his opening doubles match yesterday, Cordish and Princeton teammate Brook Hazelton lost to South Alabama's Jaco Keyser and Marcus Swart, 6-3, 6-4.

Quarterfinals in singles and doubles will start tomorrow at 9 a.m., to be followed by semifinals. Sunday's finals will start at 9.

(Results, 7D)

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