Unheralded players scrap for spots in D.C. tourney Qualifiers join field at Legg Mason Classic


WASHINGTON -- Hours and hours of spirited play in both singles and doubles occurred over the weekend in the Legg Mason Tennis Classic and, fact is, the $675,000 tournament doesn't even officially start until mid-day at the FitzGerald Center in Rock Creek Park.

That's how it is in the qualifying tournaments leading up to all main events on the ATP Tour, players from the game's low-rent district scratching and clawing to gain a foothold or at least make expenses.

Five of the eight seeded players in the 48-man qualifier made it into the tourney proper along with two upstarts, and a few of them even caught a break as a result of the blind draw placing them in pairings.

Geoff Grant and Marcos Hilpert, the two unseeded men advancing, drew each other as first-round foes, for instance.

Just missing out on qualifying was Bill Barber of Brandywine, who was up two breaks in the third set before succumbing to Hilpert, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5.

Despite his absence, the area will be well represented in the tourney. Paul Goldstein of Rockville received a wild card entry and Baltimore-based teaching pro Danny Cantwell gained entry by winning seven straight matches at the Legg Mason Wild Card Challenge a month ago.

Cantwell had his good fortune continue Saturday when he attracted First Union National Bank as a sponsor. The news wasn't all good for the 26-year-old, however, as he failed to qualify in doubles and drew Karol Kucera as a first-round opponent. Kucera, from Slovakia, won a tour stop last year and earned $260,000. This year, he took two matches each at the Australian and French Opens and at Wimbledon.

Defending champion Andre Agassi is top seeded, followed by Michael Chang, Jim Courier and Wayne Ferreira, all of whom finished 1995 in the top 10 worldwide.

Second round

Sargisian d. Washington, 6-1, 7-5; McGuire d. Wolters, 6-3, 1-6, 6-1; A. Chang d. Vujic, 6-2, 6-1; Thorne d. Givone, 1-6, 6-1, 6-1.

Qualifying round

Grabb (8) d. Nargiso (7), 6-2, 6-3; Hilpert d. Barber, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5; Godwin (3) d. Auzoux, 7-6, 7-5; Grant d. Motevassel, 7-5, 7-5; Ondrusa (1) d. Pressley, 6-2, 6-2; Sargisian (2) d. Thorne, 7-5, 6-3; McGuire d. A. Chang (6) 5-7, 6-2, 6-3.

Today's schedule

Stadium court (11 a.m.): Juston Gimelstob vs. Bryan Shelton, followed by Jim Grabb vs. Pat Rafter (15), followed by Neville Godwin vs. David Wheaton. Grandstand (11 a.m.): Jacco Eltingh vs. Stefano Pescosolido, followed by Cristinao Caratti vs. Lionel Roux, followed by Ken Carlson vs. Andrea Gaudenzi. Court 1 (11 a.m.): : Mauricio Haddad vs. Sandor Noszaly, followed by David Prinocil (13) vs. Frederik Fetterlein. Court 2 (11 a.m.): Stephane Simian vs. Sebastian Lareau. Stadium court (7 p.m.): Paul Goldstein vs. Oleg Ogorodov, followed by Vince Spadea (16) vs. Luke Jensen.

Fact box

What: Legg Mason Tennis Classic

Where: FitzGerald Tennis Center, 16th and Kennedy streets, NW, Washington.

When: Sessions today through Saturday, 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday's final, 3: 30 p.m.

Defending champion: Andre Agassi.

Tickets: $12, $14, $17, $18, $21, $23, $27 (quarterfinals), $31 (semifinals), $35 (final). Available at gate or by calling TicketMaster: (410) 481-SEAT, (703) 573-SEAT, (202) 432-SEAT.

Pub Date: 7/15/96

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