Dave Cordish didn't have to think twice when Princeton coach Dave Benjamin asked if he had an idea where to stage a huge college tennis tournament.
The Suburban Club in Baltimore, Cordish said. It has 19 well-kept clay courts.
Suburban Club it is. The T. Rowe Price National Intercollegiate Clay Court Championships will begin an eight-day run tomorrow at Suburban in an event that will bring most of the country's best amateur players to Baltimore. It is college tennis' first grand slam event of the school year.
This is the most prestigious tennis tournament held here in more than 40 years, since the days when the Baltimore Country Club was the site of a preliminary to the U.S. Open at Forest Hills in New York.
"This is an exciting change," Benjamin said. "Suburban is a beautiful club. Geographically, it's a good spot, too."
This year's event was scheduled for the River Hills Club in Jackson, Miss. When
the sponsor backed out last spring, Benjamin, executive director of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, delegated by the NCAA to run the event, asked Cordish [See Tournament, 5C] for his
Tournament, from Page 1C]
One of Cordish's sons, Blake, played for Benjamin for four years. Another, Reed, is at Princeton now and will be competing in the tournament. A Gilman grad, Reed Cordish is the second-ranked player in the East section.
After getting an OK from Suburban, Dave Cordish, owner and president of Cordish Co. real estate developers, persuaded T. Rowe Price to sponsor the tournament to the tune of $30,000. Tournament director Dave Iglehart and Suburban president Dick Wasserman and club members Bennett Swerin and Alan Hirsch attended to a myriad of details, such as arranging for temporary stands and tents.
"It's an economic tool for the city to host a major amateur event," Cordish said. "Players, their parents, coaches and friends -- they'll all be spending money."
Competition will be in men's and women's singles and doubles. Tomorrow, the first of two days of pre-qualifying, there will be about 150 matches on the 19 courts, half that many Monday.
The top 16 will advance to the qualifier on Tuesday and Wednesday, joining the bottom 48 NCAA-ranked players in a field of 64. The eight survivors will progress to the main draw, joining the 24 NCAA top-ranked players. That will leave fields of 32 in each of the four categories.
"The top college players in the country will be here -- from UCLA, Miami, Kentucky," Cordish said.
Jimmy Connors played in this tournament. So did John McEnroeOther pro tour players who
did include Todd Martin, Wayne Black, Doug Flach, MaliVai Washington, Nicole Arendt and Lisa Raymond.
"Our colleges produce some tremendous players," Cordish saidThe 1994 NCAA champion, Sargis Sargsian of Arizona State, reached the third round of this year's U.S. Open. UCLA's Justin Gimelstob reached the second round."
Although Reed Cordish is the only Baltimore player in a mai draw, there are other locals in the pre-qualifier and qualifier.
The pre-qualifier includes Loyola's Stephanie Potter, Bridge Madden, Kristen McCrossan, Kristie Earl, John Olto, Bill Wenisk and Anthony Cary, UMBC's Hope Miller, Towson State's Eddie Hagens and Maryland's Tracey Steffan. The Terps' Thea Ivanisevic is in the qualifier.
"This will be great for tennis in this area and great for the club," said Iglehart, the pro at Suburban for 21 years. "Tennis doesn't get a lot of coverage. We're especially encouraging kids to come."