La Costa Tennis : Mandlikova and Fairbank Weather the Storm

Times Staff Writer

Spectators and contestants at the $500,000 Chrysler Women's Team Tennis Championships at La Costa Hotel and Spa got to sample several of the major elements Saturday--cold, wind, rain and, eventually, hail.

They also managed to get in some tennis, although not enough to determine who is going to participate in today's championship final.

We know for a fact that the doubles tandem of Hana Mandlikova and Rosalyn Fairbank is in. Before the storm, Mandlikova and Fairbank managed to dispose of Zina Garrison and Kathy Rinaldi, 6-1, 6-4.

We also know one-half of the consolation title draw. Pam Shriver and JoAnne Russell made it by edging Manuela Maleeva and Anne Smith, 7-5, 7-5, in the day's first match.

But as for their opponents . . . well, not even the weatherman knows for sure.

After six delays because of rain and another because of hail, tournament directors finally decided to call off the last two matches scheduled for Saturday--one championship semifinal and one consolation semifinal.

Instead, they will be played today.

At 9 a.m., it will be Kathy Jordan and Alycia Moulton against Wendy Turnbull and Betsy Nagelsen in a championship semifinal. Then, at 11:30 a.m., the team of Martina Navratilova and Candy Reynolds will face Barbara Potter and Billie Jean King in a consolation semifinal.

The championship final will follow at 1 p.m., with the consolation final set for approximately 3:30 p.m.

Then again, there could be more rain. Early forecast for Carlsbad today: 20% chance of precipitation.

Mandlikova and Fairbank had to withstand two weather delays before advancing to the tournament's title match. If they were distracted, they didn't show it--sweeping past Friday's big story in straight sets.

Garrison and Rinaldi were the ones who plunged Navratilova into the losers bracket. After yielding just three games to Navratilova and Reynolds in a nearly flawless performance, Garrison and Rinaldi could scarcely keep the ball in play Saturday.

Something was amiss.

Mandlikova took a stab at the problem. Maybe it was the the weather.

"I think it affects others more than us," Mandlikova said. "I'm from Europe and Ros is from South Africa. There, it's always windy. We're used to it."

Whatever, for a doubles team that was literally thrown together at the last moment--they've never before played on the same team--Mandlikova and Fairbank have become a fairly proficient duo in a hurry. They have already won $75,000 in two days and are one step away from splitting $200,000 more.

That's pretty heady stuff, particularly for Fairbank, whose biggest payday in her career is $35,000.

Will all that money be on her mind when she steps onto the court for the tournament final?

Mandlikova cut off Fairbank with mock hysteria. "No!" she shouted. "Don't even think about it!"

Then, with a smile and a wagging finger, Mandlikova scolded the questioner: "Don't put pressure on her."

Fairbank laughed. "You try not to worry about that," she said. "If you lose. . . . "

Mandlikova, again, interrupting: "If you lose, you still get $50,000."

Either way, Fairbank and Mandlikova are set. They're guaranteed some sort of handsome prize. They're in the final.

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