Vladulescu defeats Md.'s Griffin in clay tourney Terp, partner rebound vs. Ohio State in doubles

September 25, 1998|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

A year ago, a tired Mirela Vladulescu maintained an evil game for Alabama-Birmingham throughout her conquest of the National Intercollegiate Clay Court Championships.

This suggested that a rested Vladulescu, returning as a sophomore, might be scarier than scenes from a Wes Craven picture. Maryland's Meg Griffin found this out the hard way, as Vladulescu cruised past her, 6-2, 6-0, yesterday at the Suburban Club in Pikesville. The winner will play Northwestern's Katherine Nasser this morning at 8: 30.

Vladulescu, 21, the tournament's top seed and the nation's No. 3-ranked singles player, characterized her game as rusty after a summer in Germany where she reveled in the scarcity of tournaments.

"I hadn't played so many tournaments, so I felt good about my game," Vladulescu said. "I always have a difficult time in the first round, but I think I was OK."

Vladulescu took the time off after getting eliminated in May in the second round of the NCAA individual championships, a tournament she had been favored to win. She said she wanted to be away from tennis after a one-month span in which she played about 20 matches.

Because there are so many matches in the NCAAs at the end, she said, "Everyone is burned out, with team play, doubles and everything. Some had three matches a day." Vladulescu suggested that the NCAA might want to stage its championships earlier.

Vladulescu's boot camp began in last year's clay court tournament in Baltimore. She won 12 consecutive singles matches and played three doubles matches in eight days, and still had enough gas to beat Mississippi's Agnes Muzamel in the final, 6-2, 6-2.

"What I remember was that I had to play pre-qualifiers, then qualifiers, then there was a round of 64 in the main draw," she said. "I was exhausted, but it was a good feeling of winning the tournament because I felt more confident."

Vladulescu's first-round opponent, Griffin, rebounded in the afternoon, joining doubles partner Lorraine Bittles to defeat Ohio State's Kristy Dascoli and Brianna Harris, 6-4, 2-6, 6-2. The No. 9-ranked pair will play the tournament's top seed, No. 3 Vanessa Castellano and Marissa Catlin of Georgia, at 2: 30 p.m today. Griffin's opponent in the consolation round hasn't been determined.

UMBC's Oscar Lopez fell to Kansas' Luis Uribe, 6-2, 6-2 in the first round of the tournament. In a consolation match, Georgia's Talito Corrales beat Lopez, 6-2, 6-4.

Pub Date: 9/25/98

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