Tennis: Viele struggles on professional debut

THE 14-YEAR-OLD American Monique Viele was overwhelmed 6-3, 6- 1 in her professional debut by her compatriot Jane Chi in the first round of the Princess Cup here yesterday. Viele displayed a powerful serve and a blistering forehand but her performance was erratic as Chi dominated a one-sided match.

Viele, from Florida, entered the tournament as a wild card, taking advantage of the new World Tennis Association regulations that allow for one such entry to a tour event for per season. Viele turns 15 in two weeks, which will allow her to participate in more WTA tournaments.

"I had a good time out there and was very thankful that I was able to play," Viele said, adding that she aims to become the world's No 1. "This is another step to becoming better in tennis," she added.

"It was tough, just like playing with my little sister," said the 25- year-old Chi, who is ranked 69th in the world.

The No 8 seed, Ai Sugiyama of Japan, boosted by a mixed doubles championship success at the US Open, cruised to a 6-3, 6-3 win over Tamarine Tanasugarn of Thailand. Sugiyama will meet Chi in the next round.

Rain led to the cancellation of several first-round matches as play could only be conducted on the centre court, which has a retractable roof.

In other first-round games, the Swiss qualifier Miroslava Vavrinec defeated Tara Snyder of the United States 6-1, 6-1, while Australia's Nicole Pratt beat the American Meilen Tu, 6-3, 7-5. The top seed, Lindsay Davenport, fresh from leading the United States to their first Fed Cup title since 1996, and the No 2 seed, Monica Seles, had byes into the second round.

Results, Digest, page 31