In the last two years, Zina Garrison-Jackson has won just one tournament, but she is still a big winner off the court.
Through the Zina Garrison Foundation, which raises money for the homeless and for inner-city children and her involvement in Kid Care, a meals-on-wheels program that feeds as many as 300 children a day in her native Houston, it's clear that her best performances are not coming on the tennis court.
"I just have a natural love for kids," said Garrison-Jackson, 29. "There are a lot of kids wh are not as lucky as my nieces and nephews."
Garrison-Jackson went on a couple of delivery runs in the Kid Care program and knew immediately that it was all worthwhile.
"Just to see those kids walk up and hand them a meal and see them smile, it's incredible," she said. "Food is something we take for granted. The majority of us have it all the time, but we should never forget that some of us don't."
Her goodwill is well documented. She was the first Family Circle Magazine's Player Who Makes A Difference award last year and donated $20,000 to begin a tennis academy to give free lessons to underprivileged in Houston. Garrison-Jackson's next plan is to begin a homeless shelter in Houston.
"One of the problems is low self-esteem," she said. "We'd like to rebuild it. Just because you're in a bad situation doesn't mean you are a bad person."
Garrison-Jackson, who plays TeamTennis for the Newport Beach Dukes, is also entered in the Virginia Slims of Los Angeles, Aug. 9-15 at Manhattan Country Club. She hopes her matches will serve as adequate preparation for the U.S. Open.
"Since Monica is not around, there's a lot more hope for us all because she was so dominating," she said. "I still believe I have a chance. Women's tennis is so up in the air, anything can happen. I just got lazy and burned out. I had been doing (tennis) since I was 12.
"So I hope for the best at the Open . . . and hope I don't draw the No. 1 player in the first round."
Money matters: The U.S. Open has won the race to $9 million in prize money. The first Grand Slam to reach that mark, the U.S. Open will award a record total of $9.02 million, including $535,000 to the winners of the men's and women's singles competition.
Agassi update: As the Nick Bollettieri Era fades away, Andre Agassi's deal to work with Pancho Segura as coach runs through the U.S. Open. After that, they will take stock of each other and decide whehter to continue. In the meantime, Bollettieri has his hands on another prodigy at his academy in Florida--12-year-old Anna Kournikova from Moscow.
* Look out below: John McEnroe has fallen out of the top 100 in rankings for the first time since June, 1977. He is No. 144. Agassi has dropped to No. 21, the first time he hasn't been in the top 20 since February, 1988.
* Mary Pierce, Mary Pierce: Here's the latest on the 18-year-old who lives in Florida but calls herself French because her mother is French. Pierce has severed her tennis relationship with her controversial father, Jim Pierce, who has served as her coach.
After Jim Pierce was reportedly stabbed and maced by her bodyguard outside her hotel room in Latina, Italy, two weeks ago, she pulled out of the next tournament, citing strain. Jim Pierce has been barred from attending any women's tennis events because officials fear he will disrupt Mary's matches.
Mary withdrew from last week's French Federation Cup team, which she joined as part of her agreement with the French Tennis Federation for support and coaching, and instead entered the Pathmark Classic, an exhibition tournament in Mahwah, N.J. Pierce received an appearance fee. She also had two bodyguards.
Pierce considered withdrawing from a tournament next week in Vermont, but she is still in at last count. Last week, Pierce said her father would not coach her again, then entered the Virginia Slims of Los Angeles.
Lisa Lisa: Lisa Raymond was the most dominant player in college tennis--she lost one set, just 23 games and was 34-0 at the University of Florida on the way to the NCAA singles title. Her matches lasted an average of 54 minutes, which became known around campus in Gainesville as the "Lisa Raymond Tanning Hour."
At 19, Raymond isn't at the same level in the pros as she was in college, but give her a little time. She turned pro after winning the NCAA title, lost to Jennifer Capriati in the fourth round at Wimbledon and is getting ready to play the U.S. Open for the first time as a professional.
"Everything is going pretty fast for me," said Raymond, from Wayne, Pa., who took two weeks off after the NCAA tournament. "Then, boom, I was off to London."
After that, she played exhibitions in Tokyo and Osaka and Mahwah, N.J., then has tournaments scheduled in Statton Mountain, Vt., and at the Virginia Slims of Los Angeles. For a young pro, it's a pretty hectic schedule.
"I'm adjusting," she said.