Seles a case of mistaken entry in Washington Slims

WASHINGTON — WASHINGTON -- The Virginia Slims of Washington was glad to get late word that Monica Seles would compete, but Seles said yesterday that she hadn't planned to enter and may not play.

Officials worked through the weekend to replace Steffi Graf in time for the tournament, which will begin today. Graf pulled out Thursday because of a torn tendon in her right shoulder.


In Manhattan Beach, Calif., Seles said she left a message with the Washington tournament Saturday night saying she had been playing too much and needed a rest.

"I think the operator misunderstood," she said yesterday after winning the Virginia Slims of Los Angeles. "I saw the draw today and I almost fainted. I'm very surprised. This has never happened before. It's so strange how it happened."


However, Seles said she is still thinking about playing the tournament anyway.

"I definitely have to make a decision today because the tournament starts tomorrow," she said. "It's such a mistake. It shouldn't have happened."

Since the tournament is a Tier Two event with a $350,000 purse, the Women's Tennis Association was obligated to provide one of the top three promotable players -- Graf, Seles or Martina Navratilova.

Tournament director Josh Ripple said the WTA would pay Seles $50,000 to play in Washington.

Graf owes the WTA $6,000 for her late withdrawal.

When Graf withdrew, tournament officials originally turned to defending champion Navratilova, who has won the Washington Virginia Slims nine times. Fifth-ranked Navratilova decided Saturday not to enter.

Virginia Slims of L.A.

MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. -- Monica Seles beat upstart Kimiko Date in the championship, but the Yugoslavian lost her No. 1 ranking before she even stepped on the court.


Date, who upset Gabriela Sabatini on Saturday, lost to Seles, 6-3, 6-1. The triumph, however, was not enough to prevent Seles from relinquishing the top spot in women's tennis to Steffi Graf of Germany.

Both players, it seemed, were victimized by Date's triumph over Sabatini -- Date because it left her fatigued, and Seles because she needed to beat someone more formidable than 112th worldwide to stay No. 1.

U.S. Hardcourts

INDIANAPOLIS -- Fifth seed Pete Sampras beat Boris Becker, the top seed and the No. 1 ranked player in the world, 7-6, 3-6, 6-3, at Indianapolis Sports Center.

Becker double-faulted 10 times, including three straight points in the decisive fourth game of the final set.

Volvo International


NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Petr Korda took advantage of weary and sick Goran Ivanisevic, pouncing on his weak second serves in the second set to gain his first tournament triumph, 6-4, 6-2.

Facts and figures

What: $350,000 Virginia Slims of Washington.

Where: William H. G. FitzGerald Tennis Center, 16th and Kennedy streets, NW

When: Today through Saturday, with matches from noon to 7 p.m. tomorrow through Friday and championship match Saturday at 1 p.m.

Who: 28 players, including 9 of the top 20 in the world, competing in the 44th event on the 1991 women's pro tennis tour.


Top players: No. 4 Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, No. 6 Mary Joe Fernandez, No. 9 Jana Novotna, No. 11 Zina Garrison. Also Lutherville's Pam Shriver, No. 30, is in the field.

Prize money: $70,000 for singles champion and $21,000 for doubles champions

Ticket information: Call (703) 276-9101 or 1-(800)-ProServ

Directions: Take I-95 south to I-495 (Capital Beltway) toward Silver Spring, then take Georgia Avenue to a right on 16th Street. Follow 16th to Military Road and follow Military to St. John's College High School, where free parking and a shuttle service are available. Parking is limited in the area around the William H. G. FitzGerald Tennis Center.