The 1990 season wrought both grunts and gaffes for fresh-faced Monica Seles, the tennis wunderkind who managed to derail legendary Martina Navratilova three times yet stumbled against little-known Linda Ferrando in the U.S. Open.
Now, with the No. 1 ranking perhaps in sight, third-ranked Seles, 16, will square off against another rising star, 14-year-old American Jennifer Capriati, who is ranked 10th. They will meet Nov. 27 at Baltimore Arena in an exhibition match during the First National Bank Tennis Festival.
Seles, from Yugoslavia, had her greatest success in June with her first Grand Slam title, a stunning defeat of top-ranked Steffi Graf in the French Open.
Her confidence, she says, has been on the rise since, with a few slight detours, not the least of which was experience against Ferrando.
"It's been a great year," said Seles, who at won eight consecutive tournaments this year. "There were some disappointing losses I'd rather forget, but altogether I'm proud of the year."
Seles, who ranks behind Graf and Navratilova in the computer rankings, contends she does not pay attention to the numbers, only her counterpart on the opposite end of the court.
"I actually haven't even looked at the rankings since the French Open," Seles said. "As long as I play well, I know I'll move up."
Seles said she thinks she can move past Navratilova to No. 2 if she wins next week's Virginia Slims Championships in New York. To improve her standing next year, she said she will play fewer tournaments and allow herself more practice time.
The exhibition, also featuring celebrity and wheelchair matches, will benefit several Maryland charities, including Children's Hospital and Center for Reconstructive Surgery in Baltimore and the state chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.