INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — Michael Chang, who recently turned 21, figures he has already achieved some pretty important milestones in his rite of passage.
According to Chang, 15 is important to get a learner's permit, 16 is important to get a driver's license and 20 certainly was big because he could shed the "teen thing" forever.
But none was as important to Chang as turning 18.
"Eighteen was big for me because they finally let me have a credit card," he said.
Sampras update: Pete Sampras, who was bothered by a sore right foot and lost in third round of the Newsweek Champions Cup, said being ranked No. 1 is a goal.
"But I'm not going to rush it," he said. "If I want to be No. 1, I could play 35 tournaments. But No. 1, that would be stupid. And No. 2, I'd be a mental midget and I'd probably be hurt even more."
Best excuse: From Mal Washington, trying to explain his third-round loss to Chang in the Champions Cup: "Maybe it was the alignment of the earth with the moon."
Down Down Under? According to Stefan Edberg, the United States is in for some rough treatment when it defends its Davis Cup title in a first-round match at Melbourne, Australia, next month.
"They're going to have a tough time playing with the team they picked at this moment," Edberg said.
The U.S. team is composed of Brad Gilbert and three Davis Cup rookies--David Wheaton and the doubles team of Jim Grabb and Richey Reneberg.
Fashion update: Angelica Gavaldon, dubbed Lolita by the late tennis historian Ted Tinling when she was 16, is three years older now and a year removed from taking seven months off the tour after returning to high school.
Once famous for wearing hoop earrings large enough to put a tennis ball through, Gavaldon has toned down her act. Sort of.
Her earrings may be smaller, Gavaldon said, "but my lipstick is darker."
Forward by Jimmy Connors: Paul Fein reported in the Northern California Tennis Assn. yearbook that Philadelphia sociologist Digby Baltzell recently wrote a book called "John McEnroe and the Decline of Civilization."
Mac and maturity: Bob Cookson, outgoing president of the United States Tennis Assn., doesn't think much of McEnroe's chances to be Davis Cup captain anytime soon.
"Conceivably in the future he could," Cookson told Bill Simons of Inside Tennis. "But now he doesn't have the maturity. . . . I hope he'll mature and can be appointed some day. But if you listen to the way he talks to the press, he could never be the representative of the USTA. It's not in the cards."
The Andre file: Cookson also said that Andre Agassi could use a little work.
"He's not as polished as he could be," Cookson told Simons. "His looks are his own business. His tennis ability is great. He tends to be a little sloppy. He doesn't like to practice and that works against him.
"If he worked a little harder, he'd probably be a bigger star."
From the What-Have-You-Done-Lately Department: Rod Laver was nearly late for his charity mixed doubles exhibition here last weekend because a security guard didn't recognize him and wouldn't let him in. . . . The Arthur Ashe Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS received $60,797 from an auction at the Virginia Slims of Chicago, including $10,000 for a signed replica of the Sports Illustrated cover honoring the late tennis star as sportsman of the year. A composite portrait superimposing Gabriela Sabatini's face on the Mona Lisa is being auctioned at the Slims of Florida. . . . Remember guitar-playing, camera-toting coach Carlos Kirmayr? He has parted ways with Sabatini and is now working with Arantxa Sanchez Vicario. Zina Garrison-Jackson is working with trainer Bob Kersee.