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Vahaly Enjoys Life on the Fast Track

July 24, 2002|DAVID CARRILLO | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Just as swift as he is on the hard court, Brian Vahaly has done the same in the ATP rankings.

Vahaly, a main-draw wild card at the Mercedes-Benz Cup, has moved 488 spots on the ATP Tour in the last 12 months. It's the fastest gain of any player ranked in the top 200.

Not bad for a player two years removed from the University of Virginia.

Vahaly just turned 23 and is ranked 118th in the world.

And if he continues to play the way he did at UCLA's Grandstand on Tuesday, he could crack the top 100 soon.

Vahaly used his quickness and took advantage of a frustrated Davide Sanguinetti of Italy, upsetting the 54th-ranked player, 6-3, 6-1, in the first round.

Sanguinetti, smacking the ball over the venue wall on the last return, stormed off the court angry at a handful of linesmen calls.

"They are so bad," said Sanguinetti referring to the judges as he cleared a path to avoid fans outside the venue. "The calls they made didn't give me a chance to win."

Next for Vahaly is a second-round match today against No. 4 Andy Roddick.

And Vahaly, who won his second ATP Tour match, doesn't believe Roddick will be easily frustrated.

"He's usually doing the frustrating with his 140-mph serves," said Vahaly, four years older than Roddick. "I'm just going to have to fight off his serves. It will be tough, but I have nothing to lose."

"He's at the top and I'm just trying to get there someday. Vahaly, from Atlanta, jumped on Sanguinetti, who is enjoying his best year with two titles. Sanguinetti struggled returning serves with his backhand, recording only eight of 29 points.

Sanguinetti sprayed the ball everywhere and even appeared to aim one at a linesman.

Vahaly took the first set, 6-3, and easily won the first two games of the second. Sanguinetti took the third game, but after falling behind began yelling at chair umpire Tony Nimmons over calls.

He even threw his racket onto the court, causing fans to cheer.

"I knew I had him right there," said Vahaly after hearing Sanguinetti tell Nimmons the calls were brutal. "The calls went both ways and you just never want to get caught up in that.

"It just slows you down and I just want to keep moving."

*

Need a Jack Kramer-signed tennis racket, B.B. King-signed guitar or a Mary Joe Fernandez-signed tennis skirt?

Log onto to www.grammy.com and you can bid on 13 items donated, valued at $75,000, by celebrities and athletes at the Gibson/Baldwin Night at the Net at UCLA on Monday. The auction ends on Thursday.

The money generated from the auction, on Ebay, will support MusiCares, the Recording Academy's charitable foundation focusing on health and human services for the music community.

This marks the fourth year the Recording Academy has teamed with the Mercedes-Benz Cup. There was a concert by Michael Bolton and Andy Griggs, a rising country singer, and a doubles exhibition featuring Andre Agassi, Gustavo Kuerten, Dennis Miller and Kelsey Grammar, among others, on Monday night.

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