San Diego pair all smiles after swift Clay Court win; NCAA champ Lesenarova, Valkyova coast over Rice


San Diego's Zuzana Lesenarova and Katarina Valkyova had a lot of fun in their straight-sets win yesterday at the Intercollegiate Clay Court Tennis Championships, but that's nothing unusual.

Lesenarova, the top seed and defending champion of this event in singles, and Valkyova happily breezed through a first-round match at Pikesville's Suburban Club, 6-1, 6-1, sending Rice's Charlotte Feasby and Erin Waters out of the main draw.

When the pair was asked about the most difficult part of playing them, the answer had little or nothing to do with when the ball was in play.

"For most people it's the fact that we're laughing the whole time," said Lesenarova, who competed in this year's U.S. Open and got off to a good singles start, beating New Mexico's Ana Friganovic, 6-1, 6-2. "Maybe they think it's a bit irregular or something."

So, when they weren't hitting shot after shot past Feasby and Waters, they spent their downtime doing something much too boisterous to be dismissed as mere giggling. They were laughing. They were smiling at their coach, and at their host for the week. They play this game called "flesh" where they slap their mid- and forefingers together until they turn beet red. And then there is more laughing.

"It's a good pair of girls," San Diego assistant coach Chris Atzet said. "They're a lot of fun, so I enjoy the two of them."

Lesenarova, a senior from Novy Vicin, Czech Republic, found the school on the Internet and called the university's coach, Sherri Stephens, about a scholarship. After two seasons, she broke through at this event last year, beating then-defending champ Mirela Vladulescu of Alabama-Birmingham in the finals.

From there, Lesenarova won the Riviera All-American Championships and the NCAA title, becoming only the third player to win three of the college grand slam tournaments.

The men's top singles seed, Ryan Sachire of Notre Dame, also advanced, beating Kentucky's Edo Bawano, 7-5, 2-6, 6-2, in the first round and Texas' Michael Blue, 6-4, 6-4, in the second.

Pub Date: 9/24/99

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