WASHINGTON -- Two months ago, Paul Goldstein of Rockville was hitting winners to help Stanford University win the NCAA national championship.
Last night, Goldstein found himself on the William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center stadium court hitting winners in a quest for $1 million.
Goldstein's attempt came to an end though after a strong effort. The 18-year-old sophomore lost to 136th-ranked Nicolas Pereira, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, in the first round of the Legg Mason Tennis Classic.
Goldstein received an automatic entry into the main draw after winning last month's Legg Mason Million Dollar Challenge.
"It felt good," Goldstein said. "I was a little nervous, but once I started playing I settled down a little bit. I guess I was a little too tight. I was in position to win the match. At the end of the match my feet felt a little flat. I didn't feel like I was playing my best tennis."
Goldstein immediately fell behind 2-0 in the first set before storming back to take a 6-4 victory.
Relying on his groundstrokes and returns, Goldstein pulled the crowd behind him with each passing shot.
He fell behind once again in the second set, 3-1. And again, Goldstein came back with a break and then held to even it at 3-3.
Eventually, youth gave way to experience as Pereira took advantage of any short balls Goldstein hit and exploited Goldstein's weaker serve to take the match.
If Goldstein had gone on to win the tournament, he would have won $1 million.
Jeff Tarango has been in Washington seven times before. But never has he been under such a watchful eye.
Two weeks ago, Tarango, 26, was just another journeyman. A former collegiate great at Stanford who has had his struggles and highlights on the ATP tour.
Now, he is known as the Wimbledon outcast who walked off his court after throwing a major tirade at chair umpire Bruno Rebeuh in the middle of his third-round match.
His wife, Benedicte, even got into the act by slapping Rebeuh. Tarango then accused Rebeuh of favoring certain players on the tour.
In response to his hasty exit, he was fined a record $15,500 with more fines pending. The ATP still is investigating Tarango's charges.
Tarango released a statement to the media before the start of the Washington tournament to help relieve the media pressure.
"Due to the sensitivity of the investigation, I can not say anything about the incident that occurred at Wimbledon until the investigation has been completed and the situation resolved," the statement said. "I appreciate your consideration and understanding in this matter as now my objective is to play my best uninhibited tennis throughout the summer."
In doubles last night, Tarango and Frenchman Olivier Delaitre defeated Scott Davis and Todd Martin, 7-6, 7-5. Tarango is scheduled to play singles against 14th-seeded Byron Black today.
In the ATP's attempt to enliven the matches and draw fans into the game, the Legg Mason Classic is featuring a question and answer session with players and fans after each evening's stadium court matches.
"It's a great idea," said Stefan Edberg. "You can have some spontaneous questions and answers hopefully. It's sort of the thing where people want to hear what you've got to say."
Vincent Spadea, the No. 15 seed, fell to Australia's Jamie Morgan, 6-4, 6-1.
Spadea, 20, is an up and coming American. His ranking has rocketed 250 places to No. 65 in the past year.
Morgan will play Michael Joyce, who defeated Grant Connell, 6-4, 6-2.
Singles, first round
Patrick McEnroe (11) def. Alexander Mronz, 6-3, 6-2. Michaek Tebbutt def. Wally Masur, 6-3, 6-2. Wade McGuire def. Oscar Ortiz, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3. Rogier Wassen def. Patrick Baur, 3-6. 6-0, 6-3. Jamie Morgan def. Vince Spadea (15), 6-4, 6-1. Rodolphe Gilbert def. Henrik Holm, 6-2, 6-7 (2-7), 6-2. Mauricio Hadad def. Kenny Thorne, 6-3, 6-4. Carsten Arriens def. Filip Dewulf, 6-3, 6-3. Patrick Rafter def. Don Johnson, 1-6, 7-5, 6-3. Mark Philippoussis def. Rob Givone, 6-7 (9-11), 6-2, 6-4. Gianluca Pozzi def. Scott Draper, 6-2, 6-1. Michael Joyce def. Grant Connell, 6-4, 6-2. Nicolas Pereira def. Paul Goldstein, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.
Doubles, first round
S. Cannon/M. Ondruska def. R. Seguso/R. Wassen, 6-3, 5-7, 6-2. P. Korda/C Suk def. J. Burillo/S. Noszaly, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3. S. Edberg/T Enqvist def. A. Mronz/M. Tebbutt, 6-3, 6-4; O. Delaitre/J. Tarango def. S. Davis/T. Martin, 7-6 (7-2), 7-5.
TOURNEY AT GLANCE
What: Legg Mason Tennis Classic
Where: William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center, 16th and Kennedy streets, NW
Who: Top-ranked Andre Agassi, defending champ Stefan Edberg, Wayne Ferreira, Todd Martin and MaliVai Washington are among those in the 56-player main draw.
When: Through Sunday
Tickets: Call (410) 481-SEAT.