Out of mix, Gimelstob advances in Legg Mason

V. Williams' partner upsets Fromberg

August 17, 1999

WASHINGTON -- Jason Gimelstob is used to the question: "Who's that guy playing with Venus Williams?"

So yesterday, he managed a smile when asked if he is better known for his mixed doubles play with the No. 4-ranked female tennis player in the world than anything else.

"I guess I can understand it," said Gimelstob, who with Williams won Grand Slam titles at the Australian Open and Wimbledon last year.

FOR THE RECORD - Justin Gimelstob, a competitor in the Legg Mason Tennis Classic, was incorrectly identified as Jason Gimelstob in yesterday's editions. The Sun regrets the error.

"People do recognize me as Venus' mixed doubles partner and that's OK, she's a great girl and we've had success. But, hopefully, as time goes by, it will be more and more for my own singles play."

Gimelstob took another step in that direction at the FitzGerald Tennis Center in the first round of the Legg Mason Tennis Classic by pulling out a 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (7-4) victory over No. 15 seed Richard Fromberg on Stadium Court.

Fromberg was one of two seeds to lose yesterday. No. 11 Jan-Michael Gambill was beaten by Kenneth Carlsen, 7-6 (7-3), 4-6, 6-4.

The matchup that invited anticipation, however, was between two unseeded players, Paul Goldstein of Rockville and Cecil Mamiit of Los Angeles.

Only two weeks ago, the two Americans met in the Pan American Games' gold-medal match, with Goldstein winning, 4-6, 6-0, 6-3. Last night, the rematch was filled with magnificent rallies, chilling angles and mesmerizing passing shots before Goldstein won, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4.

The last match of the day, between past Legg Mason champion and No. 13 seed Michael Chang and Nenad Zimonjic, didn't start until after 11 p.m., with Chang prevailing, 6-0, 6-1.

Gimelstob's match, the first of the day, was like a marathon. In the two hours and 25 minutes it took him to finish, No. 2 seed Andre Agassi came and went from the practice courts; Kristian Pless survived a tight first set against Adrian Voinea, and then rolled for a 7-5, 6-0 victory to earn a place in today's second round against No. 4 seed Todd Martin; and Wayne Arthurs ended the wild-card dreams of Patrick Osuna, 6-1, 6-4.

Gimelstob might have made it shorter, but he let two match points elude him when he was up 5-3 and 40-15 in the third set. And he had to rally from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits in the tiebreaker before coming up with four straight points and going on to victory.

When he won the final point, the joy of it brought Gimelstob to his knees as he pumped his fist in celebration. Members of his family, including his uncle, Jerry, the former George Washington University basketball coach, cheered happily.

"I was really relieved just to have gotten through it," said Gimelstob, 22, a native of Livingston, N.J. "After having that opportunity to close it out earlier, it was just really a relief."

Somewhat surprisingly, Fromberg wasn't that disappointed. He had started the year with a broken wrist, played only one other hard-court match last April and considered his effort here encouraging.

"I didn't play a very good tiebreaker," he said. "And my serve let me down a little bit and I had a bad shot selection. Sounds bad, but I didn't get here from Europe until Thursday, there was jet lag and the lack of hard-court play. So I find I do not feel bad about this and, actually, I'm feeling quite good. It seemed the longer the match went, the better I felt. I think that's good."

Gimelstob won, but he wasn't feeling well afterward. He had the first sign of some cramping in his right leg late in the match. Nothing else bothered him then, but shortly after the match, he cramped up.

"The cramps went through my whole body really," he said, but quickly added, "It was nothing. I'm fine now. Tonight, I'll just do the usual -- stretch and get a massage. I'll be ready [today]."

Today, Gimelstob will play Arthurs, who beat Crofton's Osuna.

Osuna had earned his way into the tournament by winning an early summer qualifying tournament and had hoped to earn more than a dozen ranking points by winning at least one round here in his first ATP tour event.

Unfortunately for Osuna, he had to settle for the single point he earned by making the main draw. He also had to settle for the $2,100 that comes with a first-round loss, because in drawing Arthurs as his opponent, Osuna found himself up against an experienced player with a mighty serve.

"Being my first event, I was pretty nervous," said Osuna, 25. "And I was a little overwhelmed. I'd never seen a serve that big with the placement he had."

(Results, 4D)

Legg Mason Classic

Where: FitzGerald Tennis Center, Washington, D.C.

Directions: Take I-95 south to I-495 west. Take southbound exit onto Georgia Avenue. Veer right on 16th Street to Kennedy Street and park on right.

Tickets: $24-$60. Call 410-481-SEAT.

Pub Date: 8/17/99

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