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Suddenly, Zina Garrison Is a Celebrity : Young Black Player Establishes Herself as Upcoming Star With Victory Over Evert Lloyd

April 23, 1985|DAVID SCHEIDERER

It was the day after the biggest victory of her tennis career and Zina Garrison didn't even have the luxury of enjoying it. The phone at her home in Houston never stopped ringing.

"It's been pretty hectic around here," the 21-year-old Garrison said. "My family and friends have been calling all day to congratulate me. Reporters have been calling, too."

Sunday, Garrison, the young woman who learned the game on the public courts of Houston, defeated Chris Evert Lloyd, 6-4, 6-3, for the Sunkist Women's Tennis Assn. championship at Amelia Island, Fla.

It was Garrison's second professional victory. She won a tournament at Zurich a year ago. It was also the first time that Garrison won so much as a set from Lloyd. The $32,000 first prize was her biggest paycheck. So, how did she celebrate Sunday night?

"I just went to sleep," Garrison said. "My coach (John Wilkerson) and my family celebrated."

Sunday's match, played in 80-degree temperatures and high humidity, took a lot out of both competitors. Both women had also been playing in doubles competition.

Said Lloyd: "You have to expect something like this when you play singles and doubles. I felt like I didn't have that much to give today.

"She (Garrison) played a great match, a very smart match and she deserved to win. . . . She shot a lot of good shots, moved me around."

Garrison scored her victory on Lloyd's home court--Lloyd is the pro at Amelia Island--and Garrison had to contend with the crowd, too.

"She's the pro there and I expected them to be for her," Garrison said. "But they were very nice to me. I've seen worse"

Did the crowd come around to Garrison as the upset unfolded?

"I think they did, a little bit," she said.

Garrison, already the ninth-ranked woman player, believes her victory over Lloyd might move her up in the computer rankings. "I hope so," she said. "We'll find out soon. The rankings come out every two weeks."

Was the victory a confidence-builder for Garrison? After all, she still has yet to win a set from Martina Navratilova.

"Well, yes," she said. "But you have to go out and start all over again every week. My mom has always taught me it's good to work for the things you want. I just have to concentrate on my work. But this win has given me a better idea of what I have to do later on."

Garrison won't have any time to spend that big paycheck, either, although she's not really inclined to do so. "I put most of it in the bank. I think it's better to have nice things when you get a little older."

Garrison is generally regarded as the best black woman player since Althea Gibson, and you have to make points while the talent is there.

So, Garrison is off to Phoenix today to play in a four-woman exhibition. Then she will return to Houston next week to play a tournament in her hometown. Her next big tournament will be the French Open, in which she reached the quarterfinals in her first appearance in 1982.

With her victory over Lloyd and a possible move up in the rankings, Garrison could be seeded at Paris.

"I might be," Garrison said. "But, people would try just that much harder to beat you."

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