A lucky loser and a lucky winner crossed paths yesterday in the second round of the Sovran Bank/D.C. National Tennis Classic at Rock Creek Tennis Center.

Craig Miller, 24, of Australia lost to Laurie Warder, 6-4, 6-4. He moves on to next week's Grand Prix stop at Stratton Mountain, Vt., lucky to have played in the main draw of this event.

A last-round loser in qualifying, Miller got into the main draw when sixth-seeded Aaron Krickstein withdrew Tuesday night because of an injury. In tennis terminology that made him "a lucky loser" -- a loser lucky enough to have a spot open up in the main draw.

David Wheaton, 18, of Minnetonka, Minn., defeated Jonny Levine, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2. He moves on to a match against Ivan Lendl in the third round, lucky to be a winner yesterday and lucky not to be in the same position as Miller.

Wheaton, who last year was the No. 2-ranked junior player in the United States, next week plays in the U.S. junior nationals at Kalamazoo, Mich. When the summer is over, the former Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy student heads off for his freshman year at Stanford.

He summed up his situation by saying, "Oh, I like it {playing in Grand Prix tournaments}. It's exciting and it's great experience. You can't beat it. I mean, you can't play Lendl on the junior tour. And it's not like I'm under any pressure except wanting to make a good showing, since they let me in {the main draw} as a wild card."

Miller, who last year was teaching tennis at the Australian Institute of Sport in Sydney while convalescing from a series of operations to remove a benign tumor from his throat, will hang around in Washington for another day or two. He will then head off to Stratton Mountain, where Saturday he will start the qualifying process all over again. His is a week-to-week existence that won't change unless he starts winning or quits tennis.

"I'm starting to half think about stopping and trying to get a teaching job with a club in the States," Miller said. "But it's hard to try and assess my own ability because I put in a good performance and then I put in a bad performance. Then, when I think I'm not so good, I have another good performance."

Or he gets lucky. Because he played in the second round here, Miller will leave Washington $1,020.80 richer than he would have had Krickstein not been hurt.

Miller didn't use to have to worry about winless weeks. In January 1983, he was the 102nd-ranked player in the world and thus able to get into the main draw of whatever tournaments he wanted. But then he had a problem with a bone spur in his heel and had to stop playing for "about four months," he said.

He returned to the tour and got his ranking back up to "like 150," he said, when the throat problem developed.

"I guess I'm just not lucky," he said. "But I can't be getting all upset because I haven't made the most of an opportunity or whatever. I guess it's just fate. Maybe I don't have the mentality to be No. 1 in the world."

That, however, is little comfort when compatriot Pat Cash is going around winning tournaments like Wimbledon.

"It's hard for me to watch Cash," Miller said. "When I was the No. 1 in Australia in the 18s, he was No. 1 in the 16s. In juniors I beat him once, 6-2, 6-0. But junior tennis always was kind of easy to me. It's a lot harder when you're playing for your dinner. Maybe if I won the lottery, I would play better.

". . . I can't really be jealous of Cash, though. He deserves it. He works really hard. He's a nice guy. He's a friend of mine {in 1982, they won the French Open junior doubles title}. There's no use being jealous."

Still, on a day when a David Wheaton was basking in that confident, what-me-worry feeling of a victorious upstart, Miller couldn't help but look back.

"When I was a junior, I used to be fanatical about it," Miller said. "I loved tennis. What I did for fun was play tennis. I find tennis more of a business now. When I want to have fun, I go out and play golf or play my guitar."

Wheaton is still having fun playing tennis. He was a member of the U.S. Junior Davis Cup team that went to Europe this summer. He played in the junior tournaments at the Italian and French opens and Wimbledon. He played in the regular Wimbledon qualifier. He has received wild-card spots in several Grand Prix tournaments.

Still, he understands the situation of a Craig Miller, and wants nothing to do with it -- ever.

"I don't want this to become a business," said Wheaton. "I want to go to college for as long as it takes to get ready to play on the circuit, but I don't want to say tennis is more important than my education. I want to make sure I'm ready to turn pro before I actually do it."

"Something I don't want to do is to have to play qualifiers. If you're playing pro, you've got to make some money, and playing in the qualifiers, you can't make any money, you can't do anything."