Tennis players have good days and bad days. Then there are those times when they can't be sure just what sort of day it is going to be for them. Case in point, both the men's and women's singles finals of the T. Rowe Price National Claycourt Championships yesterday.
Mirela Vladulescu of Alabama-Birmingham was the defending women's champ, No. 1 seed and solid favorite to repeat. Hisham Hemeda of Georgia was the top remaining seed at No. 3 and he had lost just one set on the way to the showdown.
Both got pancaked in little more than the time it takes to get loosened up and run a check of what shots are working best for them.
Hemeda won his first service game to square his match against unseeded Esteban Carril of Texas Christian at 1-1, then Carril won 11 of the next dozen games to waltz, 6-2, 6-0.
Vladulescu was in just as tough against Zuzana Lesenarova of the University of San Diego. She didn't win a game until midway through the second set before succumbing, 6-0, 6-1.
Carril's explanation was basic. "I seemed to wake up earlier than he did," he said of the 9 a.m. match at the Suburban Club in Pikesville. "Hisham, a good player, didn't play his best and I played well."
An understatement. The victor held serve at love right out of the box and was threatened just once in seven service games. In the second set, he was cracking aces all up and down Park Heights Avenue. "After a good start, I became more relaxed and things came together. I didn't miss many balls."
Hemeda noticed. "He forced me to play badly," said the native of Cairo, Egypt. "I felt ready to go starting out, but he made no mistakes, hit the ball very deep and heavy and controlled just about every point. All I could hope to do is stay up with him by holding serve, but my serve was horrible."
Final: Esteban Carril (TCU) def. Hisham Hemeda (Georgia), 6-2, 6-0. Semifinals: Hemeda def. Francisco Rodriguez (Alabama), 6-1, 7-6 (10); Carril def. Guillaume Legat (South Carolina), 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Final: Zuzana Lesenarova (San Diego) def. Mirela Vladulescu (Alabama-Birmingham), 6-0, 6-1. Semifinals: Vladulescu def. Martina Nedelkova (Virginia Commonwealth), 6-3, 4-6, 6-0; FTC Lesenarova def. Agnes Muzamel (Mississippi), 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-0.
Pub Date: 9/28/98