After six sets of doubles spread over two nights, it was long past the time for some good old-fashioned singles play. And Pam Shriver and Martina Navratilova certainly didn't disappoint the Virginia Slims Legends Tour crowd last night at the Baltimore Arena.
Shriver admitted to being nervous before the match. Imagine someone who, at age 16, played in the final of the U.S. Open in the cavernous Flushing Meadows stadium in New York and before a national television audience against Chris Evert getting a case of sweaty palms nearly two decades later.
But this was a home crowd, friends, folks pulling for a Shriver victory almost as hard as Shriver was herself.
She had the match under control, too, leading, 4-3, and faced with an easy forehand volley for an ad and one point away from a 5-3 advantage.
"Unfortunately, when you're away from it and not playing that much, the forehand volley is the first shot to go. I have to hit it a lot, and I haven't had the chance," said Shriver.
That missed opportunity had a carry-over in the form of a double fault. That's all Navratilova needed. She was on a roll that amounted to four straight games and a 6-4 triumph.
"No kidding," said Shriver, "I was nervous at the start. But it's not unusual for any of us. Chris Evert's the same way. All the girls on our [team] bench were having paranoia attacks."
In their heyday, Shriver never beat her doubles partner Navratilova that often, but she was always a serious threat and when on occasion she did get the upset, it was at a big tournament, like a "major."
"Last year on the Slims tour, we had a singles match every night, but Chris said she wasn't up to it going against Martina so often. She just didn't feel comfortable preparing mentally so often," said Shriver.
After playing in Pittsburgh a couple of weeks ago, Shriver got word she was drawing a singles assignment against Navratilova to juice up the program here. "Look at all the time I had to think about it. No wonder I was nervous," she said.
The match started with Navratilova serving, and Shriver won the first point. She looked over at team captain Evert and asked, "Should I quit now?" The tension broken, a fine match ensued.
The matches drew 5,544 over the two nights.
Singles: Navratilova d. Shriver, 6-4. Doubles: Navratilova-Garrison d. Evert-Shriver, 6-4; Casals-Garrison d. Evert-Wade, 6-3; Wade-Kloss d. Casals-Turnbull, 6-5 (5-2).
Pub Date: 5/22/98