Clay tourney is endurance test for Winthrop's Baranowski Pole has won 8 matches, but work far from done

After what Piotr Baranowski has been through the last few days, he deserves better. The transfer student from Poland has already disposed of eight opponents in the National Intercollegiate Clay Court Championships at the Suburban Club, but, actually, his work is just beginning.

Seven straight victories is all that is required to capture Wimbledon or the U.S. Open, so what is going on here?


"I came through the pre-qualifier," said Baranowski, who arrived at Winthrop University in South Carolina from the University of Warsaw last spring. "That was four matches in two days just to get into the qualifier. Some of them were easy, though."

Add two wins in the qualifier, one a three-setter, and two more in the main draw yesterday, including another three-setter, and at least Baranowski can say he's match tough and ready for his next foe, No. 3 seed Matthieu Ballay of Mississippi State, beaten finalist in the tournament last year.


"Not unless I can find a trainer, get a massage or find a whirlpool," said Baranowski. "I was on the edge of a cramp from 2-1 of the third set [against ninth seed Enrique Abaroa of Kansas]. I'd hold my breath and hope it would go away." At the end of his 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 triumph, he stretched and rubbed his legs for at least 20 minutes.

"But this is all we play on back home, so I was going to do whatever it took to compete here," he said. Tired and sore is all Baranowski was today. After playing a hardcourt schedule at Winthrop last spring, he went home to Warsaw and limped for two weeks.

Meanwhile, Ballay, into the main draw off a top-five ranking among the collegians, breezed to a pair of victories, dropping just seven games through four sets. The native of Paris is taking nothing for granted, however: "I was in a tournament in Jackson, Miss., recently and I lost in the first round. Seedings don't mean much."

The proof of Ballay's statement was plain to see during the glut of matches yesterday. Just four of the 16 seeds made it through the first and second rounds, while nine of 16 qualifiers are into the round of 16.

There will be one round of singles today, beginning at 9 a.m., followed by two rounds of doubles. The quarterfinals and semifinals will be held tomorrow.

Pub Date: 9/26/97