Tennis: Cash has happy return to his roots

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The Independent Online
Among the expectant spectators at the opening day's Wimbledon qualifying here was Goran Ivanisevic, runner-up in the Queen's tournament on Sunday and the man responsible for propelling ball-girl Amy Kavanagh into the media glare.

After reviewing the impact of his actions in the world's press, the Croatian joined the courtside throng at the Bank of England Sports Club with a view to watching his compatriot Sasa Hirzon play a first-round match against the 14th-seeded American, Michael Joyce. But as storm clouds gathered above those who had assembled beneath the courtside planes, beeches, and silver birches, Ivanisevic - who qualified here as a 17-year-old nine years ago - voiced the general fear: "Maybe I am going to watch nothing."

How right he was. As thunder, lightning and hail took over, the rest of the day's play was washed away. Just 19 out of the total entry 128 had made it through the first round. One of the 16 qualifying places for Wimbledon was theirs - provided they could win two more matches against strivers as desperate and ambitious as they were.

Among those able to bask in relative luxury was the 1987 Wimbledon champion Pat Cash, now ranked 433 in the world, who beat Thierry Guardiola of France - 131 places above him - 4-6, 6-3, 6-1.

Cash, who has been refused a wild card by 16 tournaments this season, said he was disappointed at having to qualify for the tournament he won a decade ago.

"I haven't played qualifying here since 1982," he said. "But I enjoyed my return to the courts." Cash now meets the ninth-seeded Steve Campbell of the United States in the second round.