She grimaced, scowled, gritted her teeth and contorted her face in a hundred funny shapes and exhorted herself to concentrate harder, just as she always does, but last night Pam Shriver just plain served and volleyed the heck out Sylvia Hanika.
"Tonight," she said with a bit of marvel, "it was all so plain and simple what I was doing."
Shriver brought most of her family and a chunk of the Lutherville, Md., population with her last night to George Washington University's Smith Center for her 6-1, 6-2 first-round victory in the Virginia Slims of Washington. A crowd estimated at 4,800 enjoyed the serve-and-volley clinic she put on.
"Not as much as I did," she said with a smile. "Knowing you have a lot of people coming in put a little more pressure. But I think I'm over that stage and really used it to my benefit. I was psyched up and aggressive instead of being afraid. And I'm really happy about that because other times I'd get too nervous and not hit out."
Last night, she definitely hit out.
"I like to serve to left-handers because you can serve wide in the deuce court and I used that maybe 90 percent of the time," Shriver said. "I served pretty well. And I volleyed pretty well. I probably only missed two or three that I should make, but they were all in a positive way, going for shots."
Second-seeded and fourth-ranked in the world, Shriver made short work of the first set. She broke Hanika in the fourth game for a 3-1 lead and then again for 5-1. Hanika, who once was ranked fifth, never broke Shriver.
But the second set was closer. Hanika held serve, and, after ripping two backhand passing shots, was a point away from breaking Shriver in the second game.
"If I had broken her in that game, maybe it would have made her a little shaky," Hanika said.
Shriver won that second game and then broke Hanika for a 2-1 lead. Hanika held her serve to make it 3-2, but Shriver broke her again for a 5-2 lead.
"If I don't get that second break, you never know how I'd serve at 4-3 instead of 5-2," Shriver said.
But with break in hand, she gritted her teeth again, and flew through the last game without giving up a point.
"I got in my rhythm and I felt like I knew where she was going," Shriver said. "I was pretty happy and it was showing again."
Third-seeded Claudia Kohde-Kilsch had many fewer fans, but still was pleased by her 6-3, 6-1 victory over Katerina Maleeva.
Kohde-Kilsch makes her living coming to the net, but last night she spent an inordinate amount of time at the base line, which is more Maleeva's style. So instead of rushing the net, she was forced to run corner to corner.
"It was my fault that I had to run because I didn't get to the net enough," Kohde-Kilsch said. "I am confident (playing on the base line) but my game is to go to the net and win points faster. But the first round is tough after a three- or four-week break.
"My first goal was to get my backhand over," Kohde-Kilsch said. "Once we had a long rally, it was hard to come to the net because she didn't hit many balls really short."
Kohde-Kilsch was named most improved player of the year ('85) by Tennis Magazine and rightly so, she said.
"I did well last year and I thought I deserved to win," Kohde-Kilsch said. "Last year was the most consistent. I didn't have many really bad matches. Hopefully, I'm over the times when I can have really bad matches.
"Today, in the beginning, I had trouble with my backhand, but it got better as we went on. Two years ago, I wouldn't have known what to do if that had happened."
Katerina's older sister, Manuela, fourth seeded in the tournament, won fairly easily in the morning session, beating Kate Gompert, 6-3, 6-0.
There was a mild upset in the morning session when 20th-ranked Anne White defeated 15th-ranked Carling Bassett, 6-3, 6-4.
Wendy Turnbull, the tournament's oldest player at 35, advanced to the second round, where she will face Kohde-Kilsch, by defeating Robin White, 6-0, 6-3.
Baltimore's Elise Burgin turned in a good first set, but that wasn't enough to beat Bettina Bunge. Bunge won her first match since August, 7-6 (7-5), 6-1, 6-2.
In the day's first match, Lisa Bonder, ranked 37th in the world, was down a set to Tina Mochizuki, a 33-year-old ranked 126th, when she sprained her right ankle on the third point of the second set. Bonder managed to win one more game, but was largely ineffective after the injury and lost, 7-6 (8-6), 6-1.