Unseeded Carril hits his way to final in college tournament 21-year-old Spaniard benefits from new resolve

September 27, 1998|By Phil Jackman | Phil Jackman,SUN STAFF

Three years ago, when Esteban Carril came to this country from Spain, family economics dictated that he give up tennis: He had to work after (high) school in Irving, Texas. Watching two men belt the ball around in a public park one day, he was invited to join in by one of them, who happened to be a tennis coach. It proved the resumption of a career.

Word got around quickly that Carril could play -- after all, he was on a junior team back in Spain with French Open champ Carlos Moya -- and Texas Christian University came a-calling.

Yesterday, at the T. Rowe Price National Claycourt Championships for collegians at the Suburban Club in Pikesville, unseeded Carril knocked off a pair of highly rated opponents to land in today's 9 a.m. final against third-seeded Hisham Hemeda of the University of Georgia and Egypt.

"I knew I'd miss playing, but not as much as it turned out," said the 21-year-old native of Gijon, Spain. He says he appreciates the game more now, and that has led to an on-court resolve that borders on the ferocious.

No one in the 64-player field faced a tougher draw. There has been little breathing room in any of his five matches. In the semifinals, for instance, he lost the first set to Guillaume Legat of South Carolina and Saint Lo, France, 6-2, and he looked like a goner.

"Everything I tried in that first set didn't work; he [Legat] was making fantastic shots. It's as if he knew where I would be," said Carril.

Just one break in each of the last two sets got Carril through. Even at 5-4 and 40-0 in the third set, it was a struggle. Legat got it back to deuce on two good shots and "me tightening up," said the victor. "But then I relaxed."

Hemeda advanced with a 6-1, 7-6 (12-10) victory over Francisco Rodriguez of Alabama and Paraguay, the No. 2 seed.

Women's defending champion and top seed Mirela Vladulescu of Alabama-Birmingham and Germany takes on No. 2 Zuzana Lesenarova of the University of San Diego and the Czech Republic.

The latter made the comeback of the tournament in the semis, coming back from a set and a break down late to get by Agnes Muzamel of Mississippi and Hungary, 4-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-0. Vladulescu defeated No. 3 Martina Nedelkova of Virginia Union and the Czech Republic, 6-3, 4-6, 6-0.

Pub Date: 9/27/98

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