Harold Solomon says his "life has been transformed" by the "est" self-awareness training program he completed three weeks ago in Miami. He no longer gets aggravated on the tennis court, even when he makes a poor shot or gets a bad bounce or a questionable line call.
"I can accept whatever happens out there, make the most of it and learn from it. Linesmen don't control my life anymore. I don't get hacked off and brood for hours if I play badly," the 5-foot-6 native of Silver Spring said yesterday, after beating Arthur Ashe, 6-3, 6-4, to advance to the quarterfinals of the $175,000 Washington Star International tennis championships.
"I realize that its's just a game; and it doesn't affect the overall quality of my life. What you make of your life is entirely up to you."
In short, he has come to live with the available world, Solomon says cheerfully, and to realize that it is the best world available to him.
He is so exhilarated with his new outlook on life - "my relationships have improved 100 percent, with everybody" - that he is busy recruiting his fellow pros for the 60-hour training program, named originally for the Latin word "est," meaning "it is."
Ashe is considering enrolling, although he already has come to accept a world with clay courts and Solomon - a particularly difficult combination for him. He has mastered it only once, in the French Open three years ago.
"I couldn't keep the ball in the court. It just kept sailing over the baseline," said Ashe, reiterating what the matinee crowd of 5,100 at the Washington Tennis Stadium had observed.
"I tried to keep the pressure on, but I couldn't control the ball today. I didn't have any feel for the ball. I didn't drop-shot nearly as much as I would have liked to, because I didn't have any confidence in my touch. And I swerved poorly - it seemed as if every first serve was six inches over the baseline."
Ashe tried to attack the net in the first set, and to draw Solomon in with "dinks" and drop shots, but he was ragged. He stayed in the backcourt more in the second set, but his flat and sliced groundstrokes are much less steady than Solomon's topspin off both wings, and his footwork on clay much less certain.
Ashe was in the match only briefly, breaking Solomon's serve for a 4-3 lead in the second set. But he immediately sailed two backhands over the baseline, netted a forehand and another backhand to lose the next game, and won only three more points in the uninspiring match.
Solomon's quarterfinal opponent today will be Spanish Davis Cupper Jose Higueras, 25, who served well and hit streams of elegant passing shots in crushing Raul Ramirz, the No. 4 seed, 6-2, 6-1.
On the same grandstand court, Chilean Davis Cupper Hans Gildemeistar - a highly unorthodox player who is dangerous on clay made short work of No. 7 Dick Stockton, 6-2, 6-2.
No. 1 Jimmy Connors played exceptionally well and encountered virtually no resistance in ravaging John Alexander, 6-1, 6-0.
Alexander started the day by completing a 7-5, 6-7, 6-2, second-round victory over left-hander Terry Moor that had been halted by darkeness at one set apiece Wednesday evening.
But three hours later against a more formidable southpaw, Connors, Alexander started with a double fault and never got much better.
The sturd, 6-foot-3-inch Australian did not hold his serve.In fact, he won only 11 points in seven service games, 24 points in all during a match that never got even vaguely interesting.
"It's pretty unbelievable to beat somebody like that, but it was a mixture of two things - I hit the ball real well and he didn't," said connors, who also routed Alexander at Wimbledon.
Connors next plays Gildemeister, for the first time.
Stockton had never played the lanky Chilean, either, and he seemed unable to anticipate his unusual strokes.
Gildemeister stands bolt upright in the backcourt, waits the center of the baseline until the last second, then scrambles to the ball. He hits two-fisted off both sides, sneaking up and whacking the ball, his tongue and shirttail sticking out.
He stands in when his opponent is serving, then retreats and returns the ball from four or five feet behind the baseline. But he hits his topspin groundstrokes with velocity and accuracy, and his passing shots are deadly.
"Stockton's best game is to serve-and-volley, but I don't mind when players come in all the time because that is my best game - the passing shot," said Gildemeister, 23, a former University of Southern California player.
"He knew I was going to pass him, so he stayed back quite a bit. That is not his game. He is not confident in the backcourt, and he missed quite a few balls."
Gildemeister has improved his serve and his movement considerably since reaching the quarter finals here rather anonymously a year ago.
Ramirez looked sluggish and Higeras, an accomplished clay court player who has won two Colgate Grand Prix tournaments and was a semifinalist in the Italian Open this year, never let hin get into the match.
Higueras even had game points in two of the three games he lost. He kept the ball on Ramirez's backhand, his weaker side, and mixed up his game nicely by following his serve to the net on occasion, staying back most of the time.
He moved extremely well, running down most of Ramirez's drop shot and the volleys he did not hammer away. His passing shots - hit with a great flourish - quickly drained what little enthusiasm Ramirez was able to muster.
Jaime Fillol broke Nick Saviano's serve from 40-0 in the eighth game of the final set and beat the left-hander who Wednesday upset No. 2 seeded Brian Gottfried. Fillol won yesterday's two-hour 10-minute struggle, 7-5, 5-7, 6-3.
Wojtek Fibak saved six breaks points in the eighth game of the third set of his 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 victory over Australian Phil Dent, then won the deciding tie breaker, 7 points to 5.
Spaniard Manuel Orantes lost a tie breaker in the first set after having three set points, but came back to oust 19-year-old John McEnroe, 6-7, 6-1, 7-5.
THIRD ROUND SINGLES
Hans Gildemeister def. Dick Stockton, 6-2, 6-1; Jose Higueras def. Raul Ramirez, 6-2, 6-1; Harold Solomon def. Arthur Ashe, 6-3, 6-4; Wojtek Fibak def. Phil Dent, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6, 7-5); Jimmy Connors def. John Alexander, 6-1, 6-0; Manuel Orantes def. John EcEnroe, 6-7, (4-7), 6-1, 7-5.
SECOND ROUND DOUBLES
Raul Ramirez and Fred McNair def. Peter McNamee, 6-1, 3-6, 6-4.
John McEnroe and Peter Fleming def. Ramico Benavides (back injury) and Francisco Gonzales, default.