In big-time tennis, the name of the game is the name.
But a look at the 56-man field for the $200,000 D.C. National Bank Classic that will start Monday and run through July 25 at Rock Creek Stadium, shows that many "names," the sweeteners who attract people to tournaments, are absent.
So, the 15-year-old classic will bank on its own good name. "I'd love to have (Ivan) Lendl or (Jimmy) Connors here, but I don't think anyone is better than Jimmy Arias on clay," said tournament cochairman John Harris.
Arias, second-seeded here and ranked 13th in the world, was the winner of this year's Italian Open. A finalist here last year, the 18-year- old from Grand Island, N.Y., says he's ready to put on a good show. "Washington's my favorite place," he said. "The crowds always seem to like me."
Nevertheless, Arias admitted, "My serve is still hopeless and I can't hit a drop volley."
Rodney Harmon, ranked 61st in the world, sees Arias as the man to beat. "With all things considered, Arias should be the favorite."
The main thing to be considered: top-seeded Jose-Luis Clerc, ranked No. 10 in the world, has not been playing well lately. Clerc lost in the second round of the French Open, in the first round at Wimbledon and in the semis of the Italian, to Arias.
Gene Mayer, the eighth-ranked player in the world who had been the top seed here, withdrew Friday because he wants to rest his tendinitis-afflicted wrist.
So that leaves Arias against such clay-court specialists as Mel Purcell (25th in the world), Andres Gomez (31st), Hans Gildemeister (33d) and former U.S. Open champion Manuel Orantes (49th).
Arias may end up facing Wimbledon finalist Chris Lewis, who has climbed to 24th in the world, or SMU's Harmon, who reached the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open last year, beating eighth-ranked Eliot Teltscher in the round of 16.
Harmon, who grew up in Richmond, has seen every final in Washington (both the Washington Star International and the First National Bank Classic) for the past 11 years. He looks at the list of names and sees himself in the running. "I think it's tough (for the fans) that Lendl and (French Open champion Yannick) Noah are not here. But there are a lot of guys in the top 50 and we all can play.
"The Washington tournament is such an event, with all its tradition, so maybe they don't have headliners, but still there are good ones."
The tournament will begin Monday at noon; the final will be Monday night at 7:45 and will be televised live by USA cable.