From the standpoint of local tennis, it is somewhat sobering to put the T. Rowe Price National Intercollegiate Clay Court Championships in perspective.
Sobering whether you're talking about the men or women.
There is only one woman from the state in the main draw of 32 that will begin play tomorrow at Suburban Club after four days of qualifying. She is Lauren Gavaris of Potomac, a senior from Wisconsin who is No. 13 in the Rolex preseason collegiate rankings and the No. 6 seed here.
"Lauren went to summer school and played in only a few tournaments," said Wisconsin coach Patti Henderson. "We started practice Sept. 11, so it's hard to tell what she'll do."
Players from Loyola and Towson State, men and women, were eliminated on the first day of prequalifying on Sunday. Two University of Maryland women, Meg Griffin and Thea Ivanisevic, were ousted yesterday in the qualifier.
Griffin lost to San Diego's Kristine Smith while Ivanisevic, seeded No. 7 in the qualifier, was upset by Khristen Pietrucha of Arizona.
The only man from the state in the main draw is Princeton senior Reed Cordish. A Gilman grad, Cordish is No. 68 in the preseason rankings and unseeded here.
In Baltimore circles, Cordish reigns. In winning the Greater Baltimore Men's City Championship on Suburban's clay the past three summers, he has disposed of Claude England, Gil Schuerholz and Mike Castrilli rather easily. Schuerholz, 32, a former Towson State star and now a local teaching pro, is No. 1 in the country in the 30-and-over division.
"The level of tennis is so high in these college clay courts that anybody in the draw can beat Reed," said Bennett Sweren, Suburban's tennis chairman. "He may surprise a few people, but he has to watch out for even guys coming from the qualifier."
The main draw top seeds are Marie-Laure Bougnol of Mississippi and Paul Robinson of Texas Christian.
Bougnol, a senior from France, won the clay courts title as a sophomore in 1993 but lost last year to Kansas' Nora Koves when the final went indoors because of rain.
Robinson, No. 2 in the preseason rankings, is top-seeded here because No. 1 Jeff Salzenstein of Stanford is playing a pro satellite tour this fall as an amateur.
The Intercollegiate Tennis Association created the clay courts tournament in 1986 to provide top singles competition on a surface that is encountered frequently on pro tours but rarely in college. Doubles were added in 1992.