Cordish out to show he's no amateur Baltimorean wins spot in ATP tourney in D.C.

THE BALTIMORE SUN

WASHINGTON -- Freshly minted pro Reed Cordish of Baltimore won two qualifying matches over the weekend and made his first venture into the world of ATP Tour tennis a successful one by reaching the main draw for the Legg Mason Tennis Classic, which begins today.

No sooner had Cordish graduated from Princeton with a degree in English than he was off to Mexico and Portugal for satellite tour events. The experience obviously held him in good stead, as he was able to rout Jamal Johnson, 6-0, 6-1, and then defeat Grady Brunett, 6-4, 7-5, to join the weeklong event at the FitzGerald Tennis Center in Rock Creek Park.

"I think I'm at the top of my game, but I think it's a process," Cordish said. "I'm as sharp as I can be right now."

Cordish, who reached one semifinal and two quarterfinals in three satellite events, said he was ranked close to 600th in the world coming into Washington. And if nothing else, his experience in those tournaments, including playing in 100-degree temperatures in Mexico, has readied him for the heat here.

"A lot of players in the locker room are complaining about the heat and humidity, but I'm used to it," he said.

The rankings may not add up to a whole lot, but the field for the tournament today doesn't figure to be a walkover for defending champ and No. 2-ranked Michael Chang.

After Chang, the next highest-rated player is Petr Korda (22), the 1992 champion and the only player to give Pete Sampras a run at Wimbledon (losing in five sets). Then it's on to Andre Agassi, a former No. 1 with Wimbledon, U.S. Open and Australian Open championships under his belt; he's just returning to the tour after a wrist injury.

A total of 44 players were granted direct admittance into the 56-man field, and they are joined by five wild cards -- Patrick McEnroe, Luke Smith, Ivan Ljobicic, Max Mirnyi and Potomac schoolboy Alex Kim, winner of the Wildcard Challenge leading to this event.

Other victors out of the qualifying tourney were David Wheaton, Luke Jensen -- who got by Paul Goldstein of Rockville and Stanford, 6-3, 7-6 -- Marcus Hilpert, Michael Tebbutt, Mahesh Bhupath and Luis Herrera. Cordish's first-round opponent will be fellow qualifier Hilpert. Malivai Washington, still recovering from knee surgery in April, is a late scratch.

Legg Mason tennis

Where: FitzGerald Tennis Center, Rock Creek Park, Washington

When: Today through Sunday. Sessions daily beginning at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Field: Defending champion Michael Chang (1) and Andre Agassi (2) lead the 56-man draw.

Tickets: Call 703-276-4274 or Ticketmaster at 410-481-SEAT.

Directions: Take I-95 south to I-495 west (Capital Beltway). Take southbound exit onto Georgia Avenue. Veer right on 16th Street to Kennedy Street and park on right.

Pub Date: 7/14/97

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