Seles shoulders way to hard-fought win Fernandez is beaten in Shriver charity stop

November 27, 1996|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

It used to be women played nice. They'd stand on the baselines and pound the balls deep. Only occasionally would someone try a slice or rally-killing drop shot.

No. 2 Monica Seles and No. 11 Mary Joe Fernandez did not play nice last night in the Signet Bank Tennis Challenge, which benefits the Baltimore Community Foundation.

It was obvious from the start that both women were out to win the exhibition, as neither had any qualms about using a dirty trick -- a sly drop or a wicked slice -- to win a point in the match that Seles eventually won, 6-3, 7-5.

"I played here four years ago against Pam [Shriver]," Fernandez told the crowd of more than 8,000. "And I lost then too -- it was Pam's last singles win -- just kidding."

Fernandez didn't really have a chance in this one. Seles may have had shoulder troubles a week ago, but as Signet Bank president Ken Trout said as he was handing her the winner's Waterford Crystal Trophy, "If you're injured, I hate to see you at 100 percent."

Seles was forced to default at the season-ending Chase Championships in New York with shoulder trouble eight days earlier, but she served a dozen aces last night.

"My shoulder feels pretty good tonight," Seles said after her victory. "I thought the alternative treatment I was using on my shoulder was going pretty well until last week in New York. But there had been a lot of wear and tear on it the last few weeks and I guess that set it back a little. I'm hoping giving it a rest over the next month will take care of it and that I can still avoid surgery."

In the end, the most effective game was Seles'. It was simply too fast and too powerful for Fernandez.

Seles said she is hoping to have a bigger serve and a more consistent game by the time she gets to the Australian Open for the start of next season.

Last night, she was also hoping to even her celebrity doubles record here. And she did, but she took a very curious route to a 6-3 victory.

She and her partner, Oriole Roberto Alomar -- who came on court to wild and continuous cheers -- were being beaten, 5-2, by Fernandez and her Orioles partner Brady Anderson, who demonstrated that he has been practicing his serve since last year. That's when they changed partners.

Suddenly, it was Alomar and Anderson vs. Seles and Fernandez, the 1996 Fed Cup doubles champs.

It was a match that drew raves from the crowd and the players, as they battled to deuce, before Anderson aced Seles and leaped the net in victory.

But at that point, Shriver, the promoter of this event and the acting umpire, said play on, giving the Fed Cup team the lead at 5-3.

"Next year," said Anderson, "I want you two to come back and I promise we're going to beat you."

Earlier in the evening, a legends doubles match of a single set was won by Shriver and Marty Riessen, 6-4.

But it didn't start out looking that way, as Andrea Jaeger and John Lloyd had the best of it early. Jaeger found her opponent's weak spot -- splitting the space between them perfectly, while sending the ball directly down the middle of the court.

But then, Jaeger was broken and Shriver held her serve at love and the home team was on its way, as it went up 4-2, despite Jaeger and Lloyd's best efforts.

"I hate when they come to Baltimore and they don't try," deadpanned Shriver, after Jaeger had dove head first toward the net in an effort to make a return.

Pub Date: 11/27/96

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