The education of Patty Fendick has taken the predictable twists and turns so far in the first summer of her professional tennis career.
Still, according to Fendick, there's one constant. It happened in college when she played for Stanford, and she has discovered that the professional circuit isn't much different.
"I seem to be everybody's favorite target," she said after losing to fourth-seeded Hana Mandlikova in a second-round match at the $250,000 Virginia Slims of Los Angeles Wednesday, 6-3, 7-5.
Target, literally speaking.
At the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. tournament last spring, Fendick sported a multicolored bruise on her thigh, courtesy of Shaun Stafford, her University of Florida rival.
Stafford admitted that she hit Fendick purposely as a means of showing she wasn't intimidated by Fendick's stature as NCAA champion. Fendick got the final snicker, though, when she defeated Stafford for her second straight singles championship.
The professional tour came next. Although Mandlikova didn't use Fendick for target practice Wednesday at the Manhattan Country Club, she did utilize their meeting to play with Fendick's psyche, complaining about calls, stalling between points and summoning the referee on two occasions.
"She does that a lot," said Fendick, who is ranked No. 86. "If you play her a lot, you expect it. She likes to use it as an intimidation factor."
After the referee had come out for the first time to confer with the umpire, in the fourth game, Mandlikova gained momentum and used it to take a 4-1 lead in the first set. Fendick then came back to win the next two games, pulling to 3-4. Mandlikova, however, won the first set by breaking Fendick in a 14-point game and held her own serve.
Mandlikova said she made the protests because she felt there were more mistakes than usual by the linesmen.
"I don't know what happened (with the referee)," Fendick said. "They wouldn't let me listen."
Fendick, who pushed Helena Sukova and Kathy Rinaldi to three sets before turning pro this summer, wasn't surprised by Mandlikova's tactics.
"We've never really gotten along," she said. "In fact, we've gotten in a few brawls in doubles. I was sort of expecting a drop shot and a forehand through the head. She's hit me a few times in doubles."
So, why does Fendick seem to be a marked woman? Maybe there's a circle with a line through it on her picture in the women's media guide?
"Maybe it's my sterling personality," she said, joking.
Either way, Fendick figures she has learned from this match, more than what kind of shots she should and shouldn't use against Mandlikova.
"I think in the first set, I was a little intimidated," she said. "I don't think I will be next time."
After Fendick lost her nervousness, she was able to force Mandlikova to pull out some shots. Fendick squandered leads of 3-0 and 5-3 in the second set. At 5-3, Fendick served for the match and failed to capitalize on two set points. Mandlikova hit a backhand volley for a winner on the first set point, and she hit a tough passing shot on the second, a shot Fendick barely got her racket on.
"I felt I did everything right," Fendick said. "I played the points exactly the way I wanted to. On those two points, she hit a couple of amazing backhands. I mean, what could you do?"
Tennis Notes Top-seeded Martina Navratilova hadn't played a match since Wimbledon, but she had little trouble with Gretchen Rush Magers, winning the second-round match, 6-3, 6-2. Navratilova fought off eight break points at 5-3 and breezed after that. "She started off slow and missed a couple of forehands she normally wouldn't miss," Magers said. "I think that will change as she goes along." Said Navratilova: "I felt a little rusty, but it felt good to be out there again." . . . Navratilova has made sure there won't be a repeat show of the Missing Dog. Her dog, Yonex, became the object of an intense dog-hunt when it disappeared last year from the backyard of the home where Navratilova stayed. "The fence is fixed, there is no way he can get out," she said. "He tried to get through again and went straight back to where the hole was." . . . Like Navratilova and Hana Mandlikova, No. 6-seeded Zina Garrison was coming off a long layoff. But, unlike the other two, it really showed. Anne Minter defeated Garrison, 6-3, 6-2, in a second-round match. Garrison, who had a foot injury, hadn't played a match since mid-May, before the French Open. The other seeded players to lose on Wednesday were Rosalyn Fairbank (No. 12) and Kate Gompert (No. 13). . . . The paid attendance was 2,680 during the day matches and 3,754 for the evening session for a total of 6,434. Among today's featured matches include Navratilova vs. Eva Pfaff, Chris Evert vs. Jana Novotna, Steffi Graf vs. Pascale Paradis and Gabriela Sabatini vs. Isabelle Demongeot. Navratilova and Evert play during the day, while Graf and Sabatini are scheduled at night.