Tennis Officials Walk, but Match Keeps Going

From Times Wire Services

Top-seeded Ivan Lendl, in a match that ended without an umpire or linesmen, trounced Larry Stefanki in the opening round of the inaugural $1.8-million Lipton International Players Championships tennis tournament Tuesday night.

"We have played a few times without the umpire knowing the score, but never without an umpire," Lendl said after his 6-2, 6-0 victory.

Lendl was leading, 3-0 (40-15), in the second set when he hit a serve that both players later said was long. No call was made and the Czech right-hander went up, 4-0.

"I was getting ready to serve and I just asked him (umpire Luigi Brambilla of Pomezia, Italy) one simple question," Stefanki said. "It was already 4-0 and I was getting thrashed. All I wanted was to hear the umpire say something. I wanted to see if he was paying attention. That's basically what happened."

Stefanki was assessed a point penalty for delay of game by Brambilla.

That brought Lendl to the umpire.

"I thought it was ridiculous," Lendl said. "He (Stefanki) is one of the nicest guys on the tour. He never curses or throws his racket or anything."

While the umpire was talking with other officials, Lendl and Stefanki continued to play.

At that point, the umpire and the linesmen left the court. Lendl and Stefanki, of Menlo Park, Calif., finished the match with no officials present.

"Lendl said we should play while they were talking it over," Stefanki said. "Tennis is entertainment and the fans loved it. When the umpire said we should start, we were already at deuce and told him that. We kept playing and the umpire left. Lendl and I made our own calls and somebody in the press box kept calling out the score.

"We were having fun, and it was totally in control. The match wasn't close and we just wanted to have some fun.

"Sometimes I think the players can handle things better than the umpires. . . . There is no need for them to go strictly by the rules all of the time."

An official of the Men's International Professional Tennis Council, which serves as the board of control for the men's tennis circuit and regulates such things as schedules, conditions of play and conduct, issued the following statement Tuesday night:

"The Ivan Lendl-Larry Stefanki first-round match stands as played. Mr. Lendl wins, 6-2, 6-0, and moves into the second round even though the match was completed without compliance with the point penalty of the chair umpire and without a chair umpire. Chief of Supervisors Ken Farrar is making an investigation of the facts and the results will be published as soon as possible."

Among other seeded players to post opening-round victories were two Swedes, No. 4 Anders Jarryd and No. 8 Joakim Nystrom, in the men's field, and No. 8 Zina Garrison and No. 13 Andrea Temesvari of Hungary in the women's singles.

Earlier in the day, 17-year-old Manuela Maleeva of Bulgaria solved the swirling winds at Laver's International Tennis Resort to lead a host of European youngsters into the second round of the first two-week tournament to be established since the end of World War II.

The women's field is led by Martina Navratilova, 28, and Chris Evert Lloyd, 30. Both are scheduled to see their first action today.

The tournament is the same size as Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, Grand Slam events, with identical 128-player fields for both men and women.

The women's final will be held Saturday, Feb. 16, and the men's singles championship decided on Sunday, Feb. 17. Both winners will collect $112,500.

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