An act of sportsmanship by his opponent might have been a major factor in Yannick Noah's 6-4, 6-3 championship victory in the D.C. National Bank Tennis Classic last night.
Noah, perhaps still preoccupied with his first career victory over Jimmy Connors in the semifinals Sunday, started slowly against 11th-seeded Martin Jaite. Noah lost the first three games and trailed, 4-1, before holding serve at love.
Next, the pivotal game. Jaite missed two volleys to fall behind, 0-30. After Noah hit the tape with a backhand to make it 15-30, he hit a looping forehard that linesman Jim Cummings called long. Noah questioned the call, and chair umpire Rich Kaufman asked Cummings to check the mark.
Cummings reaffirmed his call, but Jaite sided with Noah and the players convinced Kaufman to replay the point, which Noah won to go up, 40-15, en route to the break.
Jaite won only three more points in the first set and trailed, 2-0, in the second set before recovering.
Noah returned the favor by overriding a call in the eighth game of the first set, but the damage had been done. As Jaite's concentration apparently waned, Noah's confidence grew.
His first serves improved -- he succeeded on 61 percent in the second set after 44 percent in the first.
"I started very slowly," Noah said. "I couldn't have started any slower. When I got down, 4-1, I just told myself I had to serve better, not go for aces."
Last night's crowd of 6,100 helped set a record of 88,100 for the week-long tournament, surpassing the 82,000 total in 1982.