Lost match doesn't mean lost cause for Humphries 17-year-old gains Classic experience TENNIS VTC


WASHINGTON -- Fans here this week just to see Andre Agassi and Ivan Lendl, the best known of the entrants at the Newsweek Tennis Classic, are overlooking some of the more intriguing stories among the other participants.

Take 17-year-old Scott Humphries, a rising American who tasted the professional circuit -- albeit for 71 minutes -- yesterday on Court Two. Humphries fell, 6-2, 6-2, to Alex Antonitsch, the 110th-ranked player in the world, in the opening round.

But Humphries wasn't expected to last long in this tournament. That kind of accomplishment might come in the next few years, when he's off at college improving his skills.

"Hopefully, my ultimate goal is to have people recognize me on the tour. They'll say, 'Didn't I see him in Washington that summer?' That's down the road," said Humphries, a native of Alamo, Calif.

For now, Humphries is enrolled at the Palmer Tennis Academy in Tampa, Fla., practicing six days a week and rising on the U.S. junior ladder. He has 11 USTA national juniors titles, some of which are doubles titles earned with B. J. Stearns. Humphries and Stearns were the No. 1-ranked junior doubles team in 1992.

This year, Humphries has played doubles with J. J. Jackson. The pair reached the doubles final at the Junior Australian Open and the quarterfinals in junior tournaments at the French Open and Wimbledon. Humphries also finished third at the Easter Bowl in Miami, one of the best USTA national junior tournaments.

But his success in juniors means little at professional events. Humphries came to Washington -- after being granted a wild card into the main draw -- without a clear report on Antonitsch and wishing to take some confidence back to Florida.

"I was just playing each point the way I was taught to," he said. "Overall I was happy with how I did.

"This was a lot tougher for me than most of the junior matches just because he was a much better player. I hit some shots that would usually win me the point and he dug them out and returned them for winners."

But Humphries' time might come. He said he plans to attend college, and will probably choose between Stanford, UCLA or USC.

Every chance he gets, Humphries watches how the older players conduct themselves in a tournament so that he can better prepare himself. Playing in junior events at the Grand Slam tournaments, Humphries has taken time to observe most of the world champions -- which can't be underestimated as he learns about a professional player's lifestyle.

"I think if I get some more chances like this, eventually I'll break through in a couple matches," he said.


What: Newsweek Tennis Classic

When: Through Sunday.

Where: William H. G. FitzGerald Tennis Center, 16th and Kennedy streets, NW, Washington. From Baltimore, take Interstate 95 South to Capital Beltway West. Take Exit 31 (Georgia Avenue) south to 16th Street. Take 16th Street south to Colorado Avenue. Parking on-site is limited, but free shuttle service is available from the Silver Spring Metro station, 10 a.m. until one hour past the completion of the last match of the session. A shuttle also will operate from St. John's School (2607 Military Road, NW) and Rock Creek Park picnic groves No. 6, No. 7, No. 8, No. 13, No. 14.

Players: The 56-man field includes Andre Agassi, defending champion Petr Korda, Ivan Lendl, MaliVai Washington, Aaron Krickstein, Brad Gilbert and Todd Martin.

Prize money: Minimum $625,000

Tickets: Available at the FitzGerald Center box office or through TicketMaster at (202) 432-7328.

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