1984 : Virginia Slims Of Washington
from Steve Ginsberg, IWT Vol. 8, N°1, January 20, 1984
"After Barbara Potter lost to Helena Sukova in the second rd of the $150,000 Virginia Slims of Washington, she became philosophical when asked to describe her feelings : "I played well but lost", said Potter. "It's like the famous glass... Is it half empty or half full? It's all how you look at it"
The same can be said by those discussing the success of the first V Slims Tnmt in 84. It was hard to overlook the absence of Martina, Chris & Tracy, and the quick exits of the tournament top seeds. However, for those fans that filled the George Washington University Smith Center, the competition was more than adequate.
And for sixth-seeded Hana Mandlikova, her week in Washington translated to $31,500. More importantely, it resulted in the removal of an enormous burden from her shoulders.
Mandlikova entered this tournament as n°12 in the world after previously being ranked as high as n°4. She had not won a major tournament since August of 1981. In six days here, in which she won five matches without losing one set, Hana ended her title famine with a 6-1 6-1 victory over Zina Gaarrison, the fifth-seeded and 10th-ranked-player in the world; The new WTA Computer Rankings found her in the ninth spot and she jumped from N°7 to N°3 in the Virginia Slims Point Standings, in good position to challenge N°2 Evert-Lloyd.
32 of the best singles players gathered in Washington, Januaray 2-8, eager to get back into the swing of things after the XMas Holiday. Mandlikova perhaps had a bit more to prove than the others, as she noted early in the week. "I set a goal for myself over Chrstmas - to return to the top 5."
Just outside the room where Mandlikova spoke were two blackboards plastered with newspapers clips pertaining to the tournament. The october 4 issue of the Washington Post proclaimed : "Martina Navratilova, Andrea Jaeger and Tracy Austin to appear in Slims here."
2 out of the 3 didn't make it. Martina withdrew 11 days before the tournament, and Tracy is still nursing a back injury that could ruin her career. Evert Lloyd hasn't played in Washington in over a half-decade and Pam Shriver, a local favorite, could only participate to the doubles due to a shoulder injury. She was eliminated in the 1st rd.
Wait, there's more. Second seed Sylvia Hanika had to withdraw due to a viral infection, and third-seed Bettina Bunge was eliminated by Bonnie Gadusek, 6-1 6-4 on the opening day of the tournament.
Canada's Carling Bassett, the newest teenage-phenom, also lost her initial match of the week. After her loss to Sandy Collins, Bassett admitted she hadn't concentrated too much on tennis during XMas and had in fact "gained 5 pounds from eating so much turkey."
Bassett had held a 4-1 lead in the third set before losing in the week's longest match (2:28) 5-7 7-5 7-5.
The biggest disappointment of all however, was the early exit of Jaege. The tournament's top seed and the third-ranked player in the world was just getting over a bout with the flu, laringitis and the removal of her tonsils, but that wasn't the problem in her 33-minute loss to Lisa Bonder.
After the 6-0 6-1 setback, Jaeger was near tears when she explained that menstrual discomfort had limited her ability to move to move on the court.
"That wasn't me out there," she said her voice cracking. "Before I went out there, I knew I had to end each point in two hits, or that was it."
While some fans grumbled about the lack of big names, the players were excited about the field. "If Martina is in the draw, then she's the one to beat." claimed fourth-seeded Wendy Turnbull. "If not, it's up for grabs."
In other words, 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. "I didn't expect much." admitted Bunge, who had not participated in a match since Wimbledon due to an ear operation and tendinitis of the shoulder. "It takes a while to get the rythm back".
gadusek, nicknamed "Animal" for her desire and all-out style of play (and the original owners of the skins of her headbands are made from) lasted until the quarterfinals before falling to Mandlikova 6-2 6-4.
Afterward, Gadusek confirmed what everyone was beginning to notice; it was a different Hana playing out there.
"Hana must have been practicing over the XMas vacation." said Gadusek. "She's 30 to 40 percent better than last year. I think she wants to win again."
On the other hand, Garrison just wants to win - period. Although she picked up $15,000 as the runner-up, the Houston-native is still looking for her first tournament triumph as a professional.
One of the biggest surprise of the tournament was the play of Pam Casale. She showed the competition that she is ready to climb back into the top 20 again.
She opened the week by cruising past Pascale Paradis, the world's top ranked junior from France, then eliminated Turnbull 6-7 (6-8) 6-2 6-3, and seventh-seeded Kathy Horvath 6-2 6-1. When asked to describe what happened, Horvath asked reporters, "What's the worst printable word I can use?"
The semifinals pitted Garrison against Casale and Mandlikova against Sukova. The two Czechs met on a Saturday afternoon, then played as a team that night in the doubles semis.
Sukova was a loser on both counts. The eigth-seeded fell to Mandlikova 6-1 7-6 (7-5), then suffered a loss to eventual doubles champions, Potter and Sharon Walsh. In the other singles semifinal, Garrison ousted Casale 6-0 5-7 6-2, winning the final six games of the match.
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 certainity that the tennis world will be hearing a lot more of Casale, garrison, Gadusek, and of course Mandlikova throughout the rest of the year.
And if Mandlikova makes good on her vow to return to the top 5, then the fans in Washington will know where it all started."