Who says the Washington Star International Tennis Tournament and Wimbledon have nothing in common?
Yesterday, for the second straight day, the annual $175,000 tournament proved it could do anything Wimbledon could do.
It got rained on. A lot. For a long time.
Three separate thunderstorms forced a halt in play at the Rock Creek Tennis Stadium and tournament officials found their carefully planned schedule in chaos.
Only 20 of the 32 first-round singles matches had been played before play was halted at 2:20 p.m. and eventually called off for the day at 8 p.m.
Officials hope to complete the first round of play and as much of the second round as possible today. Play resumes at 10 a.m.
Officials were hoping to start doubles play today with one eight-game pro set instead of the usual two of three sets.
If Monday was a bad day for seeded players -- three of four were beaten -- yesterday started out as a good day for them.
Second-seeded Harold Solomon, Brian Gottfried, eighth-seeded Jose-Luis Clerc, ninth-seeded Victor Pecci and No. 14-seeded Phil Dent all advanced to the second round with straight-set wins.
Gottfried and Pecci were the only ones pushed, each having to go into a tie breaker to win the first set. Gottfried, who has climbed from 28th to 15th in the Association of Tennis Professionals computer rankings during the last three months, had problems with Argentinian Carlos Gattiker in the first set.
Volleying strongly and keeping Gottfried pinned at the base line, Gattiker was up a break, serving for the set at 6-5.
But at that point, Gottfried, a Wimbledon semifinalist this year, dug in. He passed Gattiker twice to go 0-30, nailed a lob in the corner, then watched a Gattiker backhand snail long to reach 6-6.
The tie breaker was no contest, Gottfried winning 7-1 and hitting a forehand volley for the set. He went on to a 7-6, 6-4 victory.
"I had never played him before and didn't quite know what to expect," Gottfried said. "He played well, especially in the first set. I played well enough to get by."
A year ago, in the midst of the 18-month slump that dropped him from No. 3 to 28 in the rankings, Gottfried lost in the first round here to Geoff Masters when he couldn't win crucial points. Yesterday, he won them all.
The same could be said for Pecci, who lost in the final here last year. Playing 21-year old American Van Winitsky on the stadium court, Pecci struggled the entire first set.
Winitsky, who beat Harold Solomon and reached the quarterfinals at the U.S. Pro tournament last week, seemed to have the answers for Pecci's net-charging game, passing him consistently and easily holding his serve until 3-3.
In the seventh game of the set, Winitsky had four break points on Pecci's serve and couldn't come up with the break. His best chance came on the third breaker when he wrong-footed Pecci with a forehand only to watch him pirouette around and tap the ball over the net for a drop-volley winner.
Up 4-3, Pecci promptly broke Winitsky, then lost his concentration long enough to let Winitsky break back. The two went into a tie breaker but Pecci, the more experienced player, had the answers, getting to net on every point and winning the tie breaker, 7-3.
Pecci quickly broke Winitsky for a 2-0 lead in the second set. Then , at 40-30 in the third game, Winitsky went for a forehand winner in the corner. It was called out. Winitsky argued vehemently as the crowd whistled its displeasure -- to no avail. He fell apart after that and lost the set, 6-0.
Earlier, Solomon, whose match with Syd Ball had been stopped when the rains came Monday with the Silver Spring native leading, 5-3, cruised to an easy 6-4, 6-2 win.
Dent had the easiest time of all, crushing John Austin, Tracy Austin's brother, 6-1, 6-1. Clerc had a fairly easy time with countryman Ricardo Cano, winning, 6-4, 6-4, in a battle of back court specialists.
One upset of sorts took place on a far outside court as qualifier Ricardo Ycaza, ranked No. 247 by the ATP, easily beat Bruce Manson, ranked No. 59, 6-3, 6-3. The normally steady Mason never got into the match, missing one ground stroke after another.