Washington reports

George Washington University Arena, Washington DC :

For the sixth-seeded Hana Mandlikova, her week in Washington translated to $31,500 ($30,000 for singles and $1,500 for doubles) . More important, it resulted in the removal of an enormous burden from her shoulders.

Hana Mandlikova entered the tournament on No. 12 in the world after previously being ranked as high as No. 4. She had not won a major tournament since August of 1981. In six days here, in which she won 5 matches without losing a set, Mandlikova ended her title famine with a 6-1 6-1 victory over Zina Garrison, the fifth-seed and 10th-ranked player in the world. The new WTA computer Rankings found her in the 9th spot and she jumped from 7 to No. 3 in the Virginia Slims Points Standings, in good position to challenge No. 2 Evert Lloyd.

But Hana did not go out and celebrate. She merely changed into a bathing suit and took a swim at the GWU swimming pool!

“I don’t think winning one tournament means that much,” said Hana Mandlikova after her victory. “I’d just like to enjoy this for a couple of hours before leaving for Oakland (next stop on the Virginia Slims Series).”

Hana says she has a way to go before she returns to her status as one of the top five women tennis players in the world. “I’m not consistent yet,” she said.

Mandlikova’s drought has dropped her from fourth to 12th in the WTA rankings, but it appears that the 21-year-old is now on her way back. She did not lose a set in five matches during the week-long tournament and needed only 46 minutes to rout Houston’s Garrison.

Hana Mandlikova, seeded sixth, used a strong net game and consistent service to beat Garrison for the fourth time in five meetings. Mandlikova pulled out of a 1-1 tie in the first set by breaking Garrison’s serve twice, and won the last four games of the second set.

Zina Garrison, Photo DR

“I’m relieved,” said Hana. “I’ve been working hard, but could not finish a whole tournament. I was winning matches, but not tournaments.”

Mandlikova said a change in attitude has helped. “I’m concentrating hard every match,” she said. “Everyone can hit the ball, but tennis is 50 percent mental. If you’re not mentally prepared for a match, then anyone can beat you.”

An exemple of Mandlikova’s new outlook came in the fourth game of the opening set. With Garrison serving, Hana questionned the umpire after one of her passing shots was ruled wide. Hana recovered to break serve and won 12 of the next 14 points the rest of the set.

“A couple of months or a year ago, that (call) might have turned the match around for me,” said Zina Garrison. “She’s a lot calmer and more patient now”.

Hana Mandlikova perhaps had a bit more to prove than the others, as she noted early in the week. « I set a goal to myself over Christmas – to return to the top five. »

With the absence of Navratilova, Evert, Austin and the early loss of the number 1 seed, Andrea Jaeger, the players at GWU Arena felt it was anyone’s tournament from the initial serve of the week.

The first upset, one of many of the week, was Gadusek over Bunge.

Gadusek, nicknamed « Animal » for her desire and all-out style of play ( and the original owners of the skins of her headband are made from) lasted until the quarterfinals before falling to Hana Mandlikova 6-2 6-4.

Afterward, Gadusek confirmed what everyone was beginning to notice; it was a different Hana playing out there.

Bonnie Gadusek , Photo DR

« Hana must have been practicing over the Christmas vacation. » said Gadusek. « She’s 30 to 40 percent better than last year. I think she wants to win again. »

Mandlikova broke Gadusek’s serve three times in the first set, then closed out the match with another service break. “I feel like I was playing catch-up the whole match.” Gadusek said.

Prior to this quarterfinal, when Hana entered the court for her first round against Camille Benjamin, travelling alone without Betty Stove for the first time in years, she felt she had her destiny into her own hands. And felt she could fight all the way on the court, even if her best tennis was not there this particular day.

“I was a little out of form against Camille Benjamin, and I was getting a little nervous. But at the same time, I felt good because I knew I would fight. I knew that even if I missed five balls in a row, for the next one I would try to concentrate and fight.”

She passed through Benjamin 6-4 6-2, then used the same determination and self-belief to beat Terry Phelps in the second round 7-6 6-1. She was here and ready to fight !

The semifinals pitted Garrison against Casale then Mandlikova against Sukova. The two Czechs met on a Saturday afternoon, then played as a team that night on the doubles semis.

Mandlikova, who gained the championship without losing a set, needed to hold service to tie the second set at 6-all and force the tiebreaker.

Helena Sukova, photo DR

In the tiebreaker, won by Hana 7-5, both players held serve until the final point when Sukova committed an unforced error, placing her shot into the net.

“I played well in the first set, but didn’t let down. I was fighting out there,” said Mandlikova. “Helena started to serve better and put more pressure on me.”

The victory was Hana Mandlikova’s fourth in as many meetings between the two.

The sixth-seeded Mandlikova took command early to win eight straight games after Sukova had broken her serve in the match’s initial game.

Showing a variety of shots and forcing Sukova wide on service to the end court, Mandlikova kept her opponent at the base-line.

When the 6-foot-1 Sukova moved to the net to take full advantage of her height and reach, Hana Mandlikova combined speed and pin-point passing shot to continue to dominate the early stages of the match.

“I had a slow start and couldn’t get into the match.” said eigth-seeded Helena Sukova. “Anything I tried to play didn’t work for me. Every point she tried worked for her.”

Trailing three games to one in the second set, Sukova began to disguise her shots and rallied to win four of the next five games to take a 5-4 lead.

Hana turned back the upset bid, saving the 10th game after a double-fault set her back to 15-30. She held serve, then held again in the 12th game, losing just one more point, again on a double fault.

“The past two years, I would try to figure out what her weakest shot was and go to that from the very beginning” said Mandlikova afterwards. “Now I’m going for broke. Sukova’s forehand is her best shot, so I took it on from the beginning. I wanted to fight and I figured if I could break her there, she would lose confidence”.

Then both suffered a loss to the eventual champions, Potter and Sharon Walsh. In the other semifina, Garrison ousted Casale 6-0 5-7 6-2.

In the final, Mandlikova won in 46 minutes, attacking the net to force Garrison to make numerous mistakes off the backhand side.

Hana said her strategy was to take control of the net and she did just that. Garrison had three break points on Mandlikova in two games, but each time, the Czech number 1 player was able to rally with a placement on an attact to the net or a strong serve. Garrison held serve only twice – once in each set- and both times at love.


Mandlikova said she was just as nervous going out the court at GW’s Smith Center 5.000 seats arena as she was when she played in the US Open finals in 1980 and 1982. «  I was confident, but I was never sure until the second game of the final set. » she said , « I don’t win in so long I wanted it more than anything ».

As for the party of the second part, poor Garrison was simply an innocent bystander. « She never gave me a chance to get into it, » said the loser. « Any time I felt a little momentum building, she’d step in and hit a winner. »

The 1984 Virginia Slims of Washington tournament may not have had all of the biggest names in women’s tennis, but it is almost a certainty that the tennis world will be hearing a lot more of Hana Mandlikova through the rest of the year.

And if Hana makes good on her vow to return to the top five, then the fans in Washington will know where it all started.



(Reports compilled from : Inside Women’s Tennis, Associated Press, Daily Press, The Evening Sun, The Odessa American, The Spokesman Revue, The Palm Beach Post)