Tennis: Young women lying in wait

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The Independent Online
THE annual Maureen Connolly Trophy match between the 21-and-under female players of Britain and the United States, which takes place here over the next three days, should provide useful international experience for the more promising of Britain's potential talent, thinly spread though it is.

Britain trail 17-3 in the series, having last won in Texas in 1988, but last year's contest in Memphis was not settled in America's favour, 6-5, until the final doubles match. Amy Frazier and Audra Keller defeated Britain's Colette Hall and Virginia Humphreys-Davies in three sets.

While there is no greater name to aspire to than Maureen Connolly, who lost only four matches from winning the United States championship at 16 in 1951 to her retirement after a riding accident in 1954, it would be misleading to place too much importance on the event. The fact is, the Americans are not always able to field their best youngsters.

The most obvious example is Jennifer Capriati, the 17- year-old multi-millionaire Olympic champion, who has never played in the Connolly Trophy. With three grand slam semi-finals to her credit, Capriati is over-qualified and otherwise engaged. It may be remembered that Capriati, as a 13-year-old, virtually laid the Wightman Cup to rest in 1989 with a 6-0, 6-0 debut against Britain's Clare Wood as the Americans won 7-0.

Two other 17-year-old tour regulars, the towering Lisa Davenport and Chanda Rubin, are also missing from the American side. The 20- year-old Lisa Raymond, who won both her singles matches in Memphis last year, is another notable absentee.

As a consequence, the competition, sponsored by ADT Auctions, appears neatly balanced, at least with regard to world rankings. Britain range from Mandy Wainwright, No 153, to Shirli-Ann Siddall, No 519, the Americans from Rachel Jensen, No 274, to Pam Nelson, No 825.

TODAY'S SINGLES MATCHES (British names first): J Pullin v N Hummel; L Ahl v P Nelson; A Wainwright v J Shiflet.