Pat DuPre stretched his long legs out in a lawn chair yesterday afternoon and talked about the difference one tournament can make in a tennis player's career.

"I guess every player on the circuit is trying to get the attention and recognition that the big names get," he said. "Before Wimbledon I felt like I was making real progress. Now, a lot more people recognize me, I feel a lot more secure. It's a nice feeling."

DuPre is recognized now because of his performance at Wimbledon, where he upset fourth-seeded Vitas Gerulaitis in the first round and advanced to the semifinals before losing to Roscoe Tanner.

The Washington Star International is DuPre's first tournament since Wimbledon and as he relaxed in the player's lounge area before winning his first-round match with 17-year-old Ben Testerman, the changes that his Wimbledon performance have brought about were obvious.

In addition to reporters seeking interviews,

"I definitely feel like I'm over the hump now," the 24-year-old DuPre said. "I still haven't won a Grand Prix tournament yet but I'm sure that'll come. Wimbledon has changed my goals somewhat though. They're a little higher now.

Specifically, DuPre, currently ranked 24th in the world, wants to crack the top 20. And he wants to be seeded at the U.S. Open this September.

"That would be a big step for me." he said. "That would make me feel as if I'd really cracked the top echelon more than once, that I'd taken Wimbledon and built on it."

Although most of the tennis world was stunned when DuPre upset Gerulaitis on Opening day at Wimbledon, DuPre was not.

"That match made six out of seven against Vitas in my career," he said. "It's true that we hadn't played for six years before the match at Wimbledon but I thought I had the game to beat him. I was extremely confident because I knew I'd beaten him before."

Even though his victory over Gerualitis attracted more attention, DuPre said his five set come-from-behind quarterfinal win over Italy's Adriano Panatta was more important to him.

"There were a lot of things that made that match special," he said. "It was my first time on Centre Court and I was very nervous. Both of us wanted to win the match badly because we both realized that making the semis at Wimbledon is something special. And I had to come back to win it."

Drained by three five-set matches, DuPre lost in straight sets in his semifinal with Tanner. But DuPre remembers the five victories and the confidence he gained with each one.

"When I first started on the Grand Prix tour I had a lot of matches with good players where I was on the verge of winning and couldn't," he said. "That started to get me down after a while. Now, if I'm ahead of a good player, I expect to go on and win the match."

Ironically, the turning point, according to DuPre, was a match he lost - to Jimmy Connors in the third round of last year's U.S. Open. "I played him tough, didn't concede him anything in the five-set match. I came out of there confident I could play with anyone."

That match started an excellent fall for DuPre. He reached the finals of four tournaments and won $96,057, good for 33d ranking on the ATP computer last year.

DuPre (pronounced Doo- Pray) was born in Belgium but grew up in Alabama. He speaks without an accent.

"French is my parents' native language and I grew up speaking both French and English so I guess I never developed an accent," he said.

DuPre was All-America at Stanford and now lives in La Jolla, Calif. His wife Darcy stayed home this week to set up housekeeping in their new home there.

"Usually she doesn't miss any of my matches," DuPre said. "But between the excitement at Wimbledon and the new house, we thought it would be better if she took a week off. She's exhausted."

DuPre, seeded ninth here, looked anything but exhausted as he stretched his 6-foot-3 frame out and accepted congratulations on his Wimbledon performance from passers-by.

"I feel like I can win here," he said. "You have to get used to the courts and the heat but once I get a match or two under my belt I think I might be able to do well here. Clay suits my game pretty well."

The confidence gained at Wimbledon seemed apparent during his match with Testerman. Twice in the second set the youngster had DuPre in the hole at 15-40 and DuPre came back to hold serve. When Testerman did finally break to get to 3-3, DuPre broke right back and served out the match.

"I'm a different player now," DuPre said. "I'd been building before Wimbledon but now I really feel like I've made it. I don't think it's gone to my head or anything like that. I'm not cocky.

"But now I look upon a close match as a good test. I don't get as nervous because I've been through it before. I like winning. I like being interviewed. It's fun."

DuPre smiled and sat back in the chair as another player walked by and said, "Great Wimby, Pat."

"Thanks," DuPre said. "It really was." CAPTION: Picture 1, Pat DuPre prepares to return in first-round match he won over Ben Testerman. By James A. Parcell - The Washington Post; Picture 2, Linesman shows Trey Waltke where ball hit inside line in the Californian's loss to George Hardie in Star tourney. By James A. Parcell - The Washington Post