Jason Stoltenberg is the Crocodile Dundee of the tennis world.

The ATP Player Guide says the Australian started tennis "at the age of 10 on an antbed court when his father owned a cotton farm in the far west (the "bush") of New South Wales."

When pressed about his humble tennis beginnings, Stoltenberg smiled and said it was a little exaggerated. "There was not really ants all over it. But sometimes some ants would make a home there."

Stoltenberg, who beat Mark Kaplan, 5-7, 6-3, 6-0, yesterday in the first round, said the court his dad built in the Australian outback might have been a little primitive. "It had string for lines -- we didn't have any chalk or lime. And we had chicken wire for a net. I came from the country and that's all we had."

Stoltenberg, 20, said he knows how Paul Hogan's movie character felt when he visited New York in the first Crocodile Dundee movie. "I saw the movie," said Stoltenberg, who has since moved to the relatively urbanized city of Newcastle. "And I said, 'It can't really be like that. It must be exaggerated.' But I got there, and it was really like that.

"One time I had just got off a plane in New York, and the plane ride was scary enough. But then I got into a cab and an Indian was driving it. And he was playing this Indian music very loud. He took me all over the place. I didn't know where I was going, but I know he wasn't going the quickest way.

" . . . But I'm used to it all now. Those were times that, when I look back now, I can laugh."

Travelin' Man

Derrick Rostagno, who drove a motorcycle from Winston-Salem, N.C., for last year's Sovran and used to own a van on each coast for tour trips, was a little embarrassed to reveal his mode of transportation this year: he flew.

"Yeah, I actually came here like a normal human being this year," said Rostagno, who won his first-round match over Martin Wostenholme, 6-3, 6-7 (4-7), 6-1. "I don't have any toys here this year."

Rostagno pointed out that at least the plane he rode -- a twin-engine Beechcraft -- isn't boring. "I felt like Buddy Holly, but we made it."

Rostagno, ranked No. 113, made recent headlines by knocking John McEnroe out of Wimbledon's first round. "It was great for a few weeks, but then it was forgotten," he said. "But it seems I made a lot of people happy." . . .

After McEnroe shelled him in their second-round match last night, Paul Chamberlin critiqued McEnroe's game, and it wasn't very flattering.

"I think he really needs to work on his game," said Chamberlin. "I see signs that it's not coming together for him. I think he needs some off-court preparation. The guy has all the shots. He could easily become number one again. It just depends on how much he wants it."

McEnroe wasn't exactly grateful: "Frankly, I don't think he knows what I've been doing off the court."

The Pioneer Role

The only two black players in the field -- Bryan Shelton and Washington -- take different approaches to the extra burden of being "pioneers."

Washington feels an obligation to the black community. "I do clinics and try to encourage people, not only to play tennis, but to stay in school and not do drugs. If I can have any positive influence on them, I'm all for it."

Shelton downplays his role. "I don't think about it much. I don't want to put the added pressure on myself. {Black} players like Todd Nelson and Roger Smith have paved the way for me. But I still feel like an important role model."

Washington said he can see progress. "Things are changing slowly but surely in the black world of tennis. But it still has a long way to go, and we have to do everything we can to improve the situation."

Both players lost in the first round -- Washington losing to 14th-seeded Todd Witsken 7-5, 6-2, and Shelton losing to Brad Pearce 6-4, 3-6, 6-2. . . .

Asked if Tim Mayotte, who defeated him 6-2, 6-1, was the type of serve-and-volley player that gave him trouble, Krishnan replied: "There's a lot of players that give me trouble. Usually about one a week."