There were no noisemakers or confetti, but Harold Solomon figured that finally, the New Year was beginning right for him.
"This is the first time I've started off a year the right way," Solomon said after his 7-5, 6-4 victory today over Marty Riessen in the singles final of the Grand Prix tennis classic at Towson Center.
For his efforts, Solomon picked up a $13,000 check and a sense of confidence he usually lacks in January.
Last year, for example, Solomon drew Bjorn Borg, Eddie Dibbs and Borg again in the early rounds of his first three tournaments. He lost all three and it has bothered him.
"Usually I start off so slowly. The first two or three months are usually horrible," said Solomon, the top seed in this $75,000 tournament. "I usually take a long break in December and it takes me forever to get back in shape.
"But this year, I had maybe only a week and a half off because I had to get ready for the Masters (last weekend). So it's kind of paid off. I'm in pretty good shape.
"Other times, at the end of the year I have to play millions of tournaments to make the Masters and I'm always coming from behind. This year I won't have to if I make a pretty good start."
Of his match today against Reissen, Solomon said, "I really wasn't under that much pressure. I felt I had control. His game really fits well into my game. He can't really overpower me with his serve. He's not a booming kind of server.
"He places it, comes in and volleys well. But my return is the best part of my game. I feel I had him on the defensive most of the time."
Solomon broke Riessen's serve twice and lost his own only once in each set. In the second game of the first set, Riessen took Solomon to deuce three times, but Solomon held service and went on to a 5-3 edge until Reissen broke back in the 10th game.
In the second set, Riessen took a two-game lead, then double-faulted twice, in the third game at love-15 and 15-40, to turn the game over to Solomon. Solomon aced Reissen in the 10th game for the final point of the match.
The singles final was the first Reissen has made since March, 1977, and it earned him $6,500.
"Up until the 11th game, I think I played fairly well," the 37-year-old Riessen said. "Solomon always hits outright winners. He makes you change your style. Almost all my volleys were off of ace-type serves.
"I came here prepared and I had a good draw. I consider a good draw getting into the quarterfinals."
As his singles career diminished over the years, Riessen turned to doubles play to earn most of his income. He and partner Sherwood Stewart picked up another $4,000 this afternoon as they defeated Anand Amritaj and Cliff Drysdale, 7-6, 6-4.