Originally created 04/02/97

Seles takes win in Family Circle debut



HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. - Monica Seles was officially welcomed Tuesday in her Family Circle Magazine Cup debut.

But Shi-Ting Wang made it a rude welcome for a while.

Wang jumped off to a 2-0 advantage before Seles came on strong to take a 6-3, 6-3 victory in a second-round match at the Sea Pines Racquet Club.

"I had to wake up pretty soon because I could have been in trouble," Seles said after finishing off Wang in 57 minutes. "I didn't want to go a set down."

Seles said it felt "great" to finally get to play in the FCC after having to pull out on three previous occasions because of illness or injury.

"I love the stadium court," she said. "It's beautiful and the fans seem to love tennis. They also seem to know a lot about tennis when they talk to me. It's a very relaxed atmosphere. ..."

Seles, seeded No. 4, said she felt rusty after taking two days off after losing to Martina Hingis 6-2, 6-1 Saturday in the finals of the Lipton Championships.

"It was really the first time I got to play some points on the clay," she said. "(Wang) has a good forehand. I was just trying to stay in the point. We had some nice rallies in there. It was a good, comfortable second-round match."

In other action Tuesday, Jennifer Capriati defeated No. 11 Mary Joe Fernandez 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (7-3) in the best match of the day on the stadium court.

No. 1 seeded Martina Hingis of Switzerland swept Barbara Rittner of Germany 6-0, 6-4.

Three other seeded players advanced - No. 5 Conchita Martinez, No. 8 Irina Spirlea and No. 12 Barbara Paulus.

No. 1 Martina Hingis was scheduled to play a night match against Barbara Rittner in the first night match in FCC history.

Capriati, ranked No. 33, outlasted Fernendez in 2 hours, 3 minutes in a match that featured 18 service breaks.

"It wasn't one of my better matches," Capriati said, "but it was different. That was the first really tough match I've had where it was a real grinder.

"I'm glad I was able to pull it out because I think it's matches like that that really give you confidence that you can pull out the close ones."

Capriati, who was making her first appearance here since 1993, said she couldn't remember ever being involved in so many service breaks.

"I wasn't really happy about that," she said. "I'd rather hold my serve more and be able to use that as a weapon. But I don't think I was serving that well, and it just gave her the opportunity to take advantage of the point and vice versa when she served."

Fernandez said Capriati played two good defensive points in the tiebreaker that turned the match around .

"I was dictating the point and she retrieved a lot of balls back to me," Fernandez said. "I ended up making a mistake or she ended up going on the offensive.

"I think those two points were the key. If I had won those two points, instead of being down 4-2 I would have been up 4-2."

Martinez, meanwhile, rallied from a 4-2 deficit in the second set to pull out a 6-7 (5-7), 6-4, 6-3 victory over Olga Barabanschikova.

The two-time FCC champion looked in danger of going out before the quarterfinals for the first time in six appearances here. But she wore down Barabanschikova in the second and third sets.

"I was up 5-3 and lost my opportunity to win the first set," Martinez said. "It gets me upset that I can't close out the first set when I'm up 5-3. Probably, I rushed a little bit, and I made a lot of unforced errors. Then, in the second set, I started trying to move her around a little bit more and tried to have more patience and the unforced errors came down a bit."

Today's matches begin at 9:30 a.m. with defending champion and No. 2 seed Arantxa Sanchez Vicario seeing her first action against Sarah Pitkowski.

Also scheduled to play for the first time are No. 3 Jana Novotna, No. 6 Lindsay Davenport and No. 7 Anke Huber.