Stacey Martin of Largo was an unseeded 14-year-old last year when she came through the back door and won the U.S. Tennis Association's National Amateur Indoor Championship.
Yesterday, she won that title again, but this time as the top seed, defeating fifth-seeded Rita Winebarger, 6-3, 6-1, at the Fairfax Racquet Club.
Martin, who is ranked first in the 18-and-under division of the Mid-Atlantic Tennis Association and was sixth nationally in the 14-and-under, lost only two games in this tournament before yesterday's title match. She had won 36 straight games until the semifinals.
In her victory over Winebarger, Martin won the first four games, then overcame mistakes to hold on and win the first set. Winebarger broke serve to win the first game of the second set, but Martin took six straight games in which she rarely let by a passing shot.
"I didn't rush anything," said Martin, a sophomore at Elizabeth Seton High School in Bladensburg. "I went from side to side. Then I tried to go to one side twice and get her stuck.
"Having patience was important, because she was sort of consistent. I wanted to be patient to create the openings."
Winebarger repeatedly made nice passing attempts, but Martin chased down most of them. Eventually, Winebarger made the mistakes.
"I felt I had a few chances to put some shots away in the second set," said Winebarger, a sophomore who is the No. 1 women's player at the University of South Carolina. "But she's quick. She surprised me by all the balls she got to."
Martin broke serve in the first and third games of the first set and was tied at 15 in the fourth game before she took the next three points, the final on a back-hand winner. "She came out on fire," said Winebarger, who is from Satellite Beach, Fla. "Before I knew it, it was 4-0."
Down, 5-1, Winebarger won the next two games. But Martin broke serve the next game, winning four straight points.
Winebarger broke serve for a 1-0 lead in the second. Her forehand passing shot tied it at 15 in the second game, but Martin won the next three points, the final on a nicely placed backhand lob.
In the third game, Martin hit a forehand into the net for deuce. She then charged the net and volleyed a forehand winner and won the game when Winebarger netted a shot.
Martin won the next four games easily.
The men's final will be played today at 2 p.m.. In the semifinals yesterday, fourth-seeded Richard Schmidt defeated Paul Palandjian (No. 11), 6-7, 6-2, 7-5. Ken Thorne (No. 2) defeated Craig Boynton (No. 5), 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7-4).