Ailing Graf to bypass Slims, but Garrison joins D.C. field


Steffi Graf was in, then she was out. Zina Garrison was out, now she's in.

Such is the revolving door for next week's Virginia Slims of Washington tennis tournament.

Graf, ranked second in the world behind Monica Seles, withdrew from the tournament to undergo more treatment for a torn tendon in her right shoulder, according to a report in today's Washington Post. Graf suffered the injury before Wimbledon and aggravated it during the Federation Cup matches in England last month.

Despite the setback, the tournament did get some good news.

No sooner did Garrison get done saying "I'm maybe going to take a break" after suffering an upset loss Wednesday when she reconsidered and entered the tournament in hopes of turning her game around.

"I haven't played well all year. I'm tired. I'm stressed out. I feel like I'm not mentally there," Garrison said after the second-round setback in Los Angeles. Then she thought, hey, this is no time for a break, the U.S. Open is coming up. Nation's capital, here I come.

After a couple of anxious moments involving an "it's in the mail" security deposit, all systems are go for the tourney, getting under way Monday in Rock Creek Park. These being the final days leading up to the last big Grand Slam event in Flushing Meadow, N.Y., Aug. 26 to Sept. 8, the Slims boasts a star-studded field.

Other top-10ers include Arantxa Sanchez Vicario (4), Mary Joe Fernandez (6) and Jana Novotna (9). Add to these a half-dozen women ranked between 10 and 20 and comebacking Pam Shriver (30), fresh off a three-gold medal performance at the Pan American Games, and it's easy to paint this as the strongest women's field ever assembled here.

Things got a little touchy earlier this week when Bill Shields, spokesman for the National Park Service, threatened to cancel the tournament if the sponsoring Washington Tennis Patrons and ProServ didn't get their $50,000 check in to cover expenses and user fees.

The deposit was delivered in advance, but that didn't seem to matter as all sorts of problems have arisen with the emergence of two big tournaments at the Fitzgerald Tennis Center. The surrounding neighborhoods have been complaining about traffic jams and community disruption and the fact the WTA tournament is sponsored by a cigarette company. Activists and politicians feel the WTA should not be allowed to purchase access to federal parklands even if the end result, money benefiting programs for inner-city kids, is admirable.

Daily sessions go Monday through Friday at noon and 7 p.m. with the final slated for Saturday at 1 p.m.

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