Sovran to draw on Agassi's appeal


A little of the luster may have been lost from the Sovran Bank Classic tennis tournament with the loss of Ivan Lendl, but tournament officials are hoping that Andre Agassi is enough to carry the field.

Agassi, the No. 6-ranked player in the world and the defending Sovran champion, will head a field of 56 players in the tournament, which will begin today at the William H. G. FitzGerald Tennis Center in Washington. Qualifying matches took place during the weekend.

Lendl, ranked No. 3 in the world, had been added as a wild card last week and was to be the tournament's top seed. But an infection in his right hand forced him to withdraw from the tournament Friday.

Other top players in the field include John McEnroe, Brad Gilbert and Richey Reneberg.

Agassi is coming off a loss to David Wheaton at Wimbledon, where tradition dictated that he wear predominantly white attire.

He should be back in his usual colorful garb this week for his first match -- against the winner of the David Pate-John Ross first-round match.

Agassi, whose flamboyant style has helped him attract a large following, won last year's Sovran by beating Jim Grabb in the final.

Facts and figures

What: Sovran Bank Classic

Where: William H. G. FitzGerald Tennis Center, 16th Street and Colorado Avenue NW. From Baltimore, take I-95 south to the Capital Beltway west. Take Exit 31 (Georgia Avenue) south to 16th Street. Take 16th Street south to Colorado Avenue.

When: Starts today, with the championship scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m. Two sessions per day, starting at noon and 7 p.m.

Players: Defending champion Andre Agassi, John McEnroe, Brad Gilbert and Richey Reneberg are among the field of 56 players.

At stake: Winner gets $77,000 and 180 IBM computer points.

Tickets: Call (800) PRO-SERV. Prices are $6 (noon) and $17 (7 p.m.) today and tomorrow; $10 and $17 on Wednesday; $13 and $21 on Thursday; $13 and $25 on Friday; and $29 on Saturday. The only seats available for Sunday's championship are obstructed-view box seats ($63).

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