Tim Wilkison isn't worried about his lack of experience; it's his game that bothers him.
Wilkison, a professional tennis player at 17, was eliminated from the Washington Star International tennis championships yesterday when he was beaten 5-7, 6-3, 1-6, by Ray Moore, 31. But Wilkison said the difference in age had nothing to with it.
"He just played better than I did," the teen-ager said. "Everybody says how much experience makes the difference. I don't think it was that. Experience doesn't mean that much. He just play better."
Wilkison, a Shelby, N.C., native, graduated from high school in June. He has forsworn college for the life of a touring tennis pro. He made that decision on his own.
"My parents left it up to me," he said. "I didn't feel any commitments to anybody or any coaches or anything."
After turning pro in January, Wilkison took three months off to play in Australia. He was No. 53 in the 1975 USTA rankings. Last week, he lost to Phil Dent in three sets in the second round of the Western Open. He entered the Star tournament as a wild card.
In fact, he pointed out, this is his third wild-card appearance this year. "You're only allowed tour," he explained, "and they sure make it a heck of a lot easier instead of going through qualifying each time."
Wilkison, a quiet and reserved young man, plays intensely and practices the same way. "No matter what I practice, it needs it," he said.
His trip to Australia put him behind in his school work, so he had to give that an extra work, also. "I really had to do six months work in three months to graduate."
His studies are behind him now. He will be following the tennis circuit year-round. He prefers the tour during the summer because there are more younger players competing.
"During the winter, there's really nobody my age," he said. "I have other friends, but I really like to be by myself as much as I can."
Wilkison spends his time reading listening to music or watching television. "After you get home from playing matches it's usually around eight. By the time you get one eating you want to rest. That doesn't leave much time."
But there is a lot of time left for Wilkison's career in tennis. His brown eyes lit up as he talked about his future. He toweled off his longish crew-cut ("I just did it for the heck of it," he claimed) and wrapped the towel around his neck.
"What I'd like to dothe most, what would be the greatest thing.I think, would be to play for the Davis Cup team for the U.S.
"Of course, you play in a lot of tournaments, Wimbledon and Forest Hills mean a lot more than the smaller ones. There's more money and more prestige.
"But the Davis Cup," he said, shaking his head. "You're playing on a team and you're playing for your country. That's the best."
And at 17, Tim Wilkison wants nothing but the best.