Pam Shriver came to town yesterday -- the town where she made her big breakthrough in tennis -- and, believe it, she knows just how far she has come in one meteoric year.

Tournament sponsors Avon and Independence Federal plied Shriver (and us) with ice cream "after a full day of classes for Pammy" at McDonogh School outside Baltimore, spotlighting her as a prime attraction in the $125,000 Avon Championships of Washington. That's the 1979 opener of the tour, picking up where Virginia Slims left off and it's set Jan. 1-7 at George Washington U's Smith Center.

"A year ago I was just starting to play qualifications in the Virginia Slims of Washington," the 16-year-old U.S. Open runner-up remembered. "Now I'll probably be seeded among the top eight."

Meanwhile, another 24 Washington-Baltimore area hopefuls will play a December qualifier and we asked whether she knew of any of that group that might go as far, as fast, as she did after advancing through a similar prelim last time into the tourney proper with the international stars -- after being invited almost unknown, almost as a last resort to fill out the field.

"Elise Burgin (Baltimore) and Sue Rasmussen (Oakton) are probably the best of them," Shriver reckoned.

Do they have a chance to be as good as you?

"I don't think so," Shriver replied, slyly. "There's only one 'Legend of Lutherville.'"

Quick on the uptake.