Third-set rally clears path to USTA final for foggy Laiho


August 01, 1999|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Down 0-2 in the final set and struggling with heat and illness, the University of Florida's Whitney Laiho won six straight games for a 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 semifinal victory over Atlanta's Ansley Cargill yesterday in the USTA Satellite Tournament of Baltimore at Druid Hill Park.

Laiho plays Puerto Rico's Vilmarie Castellvi -- a 6-2, 6-4 semifinal winner over Atlanta's Lindsay Lee -- in today's 1 p.m. final.

Laiho said her weakened state came from medication she's been taking for strep throat, which she has had since Tuesday. That, along with playing in 90-plus degree weather, made Laiho disoriented.

Laiho, from Middletown, R.I., became so dizzy that she tripped over her feet when she was down 1-4 in the first set, bringing out the trainer to ask if she could continue. She kept going, but not necessarily with a clear head. After Laiho won the second set, the 10-minute break because of the scorching heat apparently wasn't rest enough.

At one point in her six-game winning streak, Laiho asked the chair umpire the score.

"I didn't quit because Andi Brandi [her college coach] would have told me I was too soft," said Laiho, 19. "So I just basically tried to fight through anything. I honesty did not know what the score was. I was so lost. I just know that I wanted every single ball."

After losing her serve in the first game of the final set, Laiho broke Cargill to tie the set at 2-2. Cargill bounced her racket in frustration after hitting the ball into the net to fall behind 2-3. Laiho used a strong forehand to keep Cargill off-balance during the last-set run.

Today's 11 a.m. doubles final will match Lauren Kalvaria and Marie-Eve Pelletier against Candice Jairala and Nadia Johnston.

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