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Tennis / Lisa Dillman : Fallout Leads UCLA and Pasarell to Make Bids for NCAA Tournament

June 14, 1987|Lisa Dillman

Harder hitting than the on-court volleys at last month's National Collegiate Athletic Assn. tennis tournament in Athens, Ga., were the verbal volleys.

USC Coach Dick Leach said that the University of Georgia, which has been the host school for the last eight years, will lose the event, if he has anything to do with it.

More quietly, but just as emphatically, UCLA's Glenn Bassett said that the Bulldogs have an unfair advantage off the court as well as on it, pointing out that Georgia can use the prestige of being tournament host as a recruiting tool.

Others simply believe that the tournament must be moved for the good of the collegiate game.

Georgia, obviously, wants to continue holding it.

The fallout, however, has already prompted two Southern California groups to take action.

A bid to serve as tournament host in 1989 and 1990 has been submitted by UCLA.

Another, and one that looms as strong competition for the Bruins, will probably be submitted by Charlie Pasarell, a former UCLA player who runs the Grand Champions tennis complex at Indian Wells.

A look at the two bids:

UCLA--The Bruins won't have any problems convincing people of the quality of the L.A. Tennis Center. There are eight lighted courts at the center, plus 11 more courts at the nearby Sunset complex.

At the NCAA women's tournament this year, both sets of courts were used and a couple of first-round team matches were played at the Riviera Country Club.

When UCLA submitted its bid to the NCAA tennis committee June 4, the Bruins' experience as host of various NCAA tournaments was emphasized. This year, besides women's tennis, UCLA held the men's gymnastics and the men's volleyball tournaments. And the women's tennis tournament will return to Westwood in 1988.

Bids for the men's tournament must be submitted to the NCAA by Aug. 1, and Bassett hopes to receive a reply before September.

"I think we're ready to make a move, so it can go around to the rest of the country," Bassett said. "I hope that is the mood, to have it move from one site to another."

Indian Wells--Most likely, Pasarell wouldn't have been in Georgia to see his alma mater play the Bulldogs in the final if it hadn't been for his own accomplishments.

The three-time All-American and NCAA singles champion was in Athens to be inducted into the Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame.

"I think he got there and saw all the excitement," Leach said. "It struck a nerve. He's always supported college tennis, and he wants to do it even further with a commitment like this."

Pasarell agreed. "I had thought about it, but I never pursued it aggressively until I went to Georgia," he said. "I've always said I'm interested in hosting other events at Grand Champions. It would be a terrific thing to promote."

The $120-million Grand Champions resort features a 10,500-seat stadium. There are eight lighted hard courts on which the tournament would be played. Courts at various nearby clubs could also be used.

Another strong point for Pasarell's proposal is his track record as a tournament director. Last February, the Pilot Pen men's tournament at Grand Champions was played before sellout crowds the final two days.

The tournament enjoyed similar success when it was previously held at the La Quinta Hotel. Spectators in the Palm Springs area traditionally embrace tennis, at least until the sun dips behind the mountains.

"I think Georgia has done a terrific job," said Pasarell, who is drawing up his bid. "But I think we have one of the premier tennis facilities. I'd like to take it (the NCAA tournament) to that next level. I think we could get a great deal of support here."

Add Bruins: The NCAA runner-up team will undergo something of a face lift in 1988. Those already gone include captain Brett Greenwood, junior Otis Smith and sophomore Tim Trigueiro.

Greenwood graduated, Smith is turning professional and Trigueiro's roller-coaster stay at Westwood ended when Bassett suspended him for a year shortly after the NCAA tournament.

Trigueiro, a Santa Barbara native, had arrived at UCLA with excellent credentials, including a U.S. Open junior championship in 1985. But, after a strong freshman year, he struggled and recorded mixed results this season.

More problems: For the Bruins, the severe knee injury suffered by sophomore Dan Nahirny during the final of the NCAA team tournament could have more lasting ramifications.

Nahirny, who had earlier defeated eventual singles champion Andrew Burrow of Miami, was leading Georgia's Philip Johnson by a set and a service break when the injury occurred.

He was carried off the court and taken to the hospital. Nahirny suffered torn ligaments, but there was no cartilage damage.

"Dan was playing excellent tennis at the time," Bassett said. "We're just hoping he can play at all. Some people say, no way in '88. He's hoping he can start playing in January."

Tennis Notes Three players from Southern California have been invited to the Junior Davis Cup team tryouts, June 20-July 5, at Sonoma State--Pete Sampras of Rancho Palos Verdes and Doug Eisenman of Santa Ana in the 18-and-under division, and Carlos Bustos of Irvine in the 16s. Sampras recently won the Southern Section high school singles title, defeating Santa Barbara's Bill Miller in the final. Eisenman, now at Cal, reached the Pacific 10 singles semifinals last spring in Ojai. And, Bustos was a member of the Irvine University High team which won the Southern Section 4-A title two weeks ago.

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