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A Quick Knockout for Frazier : Tennis: She defeats Grossman, 6-1, 6-3, in 64-minute final at Manhattan Beach.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The New Age of women’s tennis dawned Sunday in Manhattan Beach, and it looked . . . . antiquated.

With styles lacking the charisma of the sport’s stars, Amy Frazier and Ann Grossman were resigned to pound away from the baseline for 64 minutes in the final of the Virginia Slims of Los Angeles.

And when the points were counted, it was Frazier, 21, from Rochester Hills, Mich., who had the better shots in a 6-1, 6-3 victory before 6,214 at the Manhattan Country Club.

“She is a very one-dimensional player but she is very good at it,” Grossman said of her childhood friend.

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That much was evident during the Manhattan Beach event, which ended with a demonstration of ‘70s tennis. Frazier did not drop a set in five matches with the best performance of her career. Whether her crisp, deep strokes will be as effective at the U.S. Open, which starts Aug. 29, not even Frazier could guess.

But some supporters are optimistic.

“I hope we can look back and say this was a breakthrough,” said her coach, John Cook of Cincinnati.

Grossman, 23, from Grove City, Ohio, believes that it will be for both. They developed their smooth-stroking games on the junior circuit in the Midwest, where they met as skinny-legged kids with oversized rackets.

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Still, Grossman is facing one hurdle Frazier has leaped. She has yet to win a final in seven tries.

“I know,” she said of losing another opportunity. “I guess someone needs to break a leg.”

The only thing Frazier broke was Grossman’s serve.

By going up two breaks in three games in the first set, Frazier’s confidence soared.

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That was the last thing Grossman wanted to happen. Although she had won four consecutive matches after dropping the first set, Grossman knew it would be difficult to shake Frazier.

And the more she tried to motivate herself by talking to her racket, kicking the court siding and screaming, the more Frazier’s confidence grew.

In the fourth game of the second set, Grossman fell behind, 0-30, on serve, and yelled: “My grandmother can play better than this.”

Some watching agreed.

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Instead of regrouping, Grossman dropped her serve when Frazier’s forehand hit the tape and dropped in. Even though Grossman broke back to close to 3-2, she lost her serve again as Frazier calmly took control.

“When you play Amy, your mind has to be right in there,” Grossman said. “I played so many tough matches this week. I was a little bit fried.”

Still, Frazier said she was not overly confident against an opponent she had never defeated as a pro. She had watched Grossman fight back so many times, she knew the slightest letdown could spell disaster.

So, she continued banging away, spraying shots cross court with a powerful two-handed backhand.

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For now, Frazier needs to develop a more well-rounded game. After taking six months off last season because of health problems, Frazier returned fresh.

“She returned with renewed interest and desire,” Cook said.

And now Cook wants to add an attacking style to complement the authoritative groundstrokes.

Frazier, who will be No. 21 in today’s rankings, has been reluctant to come to the net, which fits her passive personality. But deep down, she is a fighter, Cook said.

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But even after ousting third-ranked Conchita Martinez in the quarterfinals, Frazier expressed little joy, saying she was worried about her next opponent.

After the final, Frazier said she will savor the victory.

Grossman also was enjoying the moment, which does not come often for the world’s 46th-ranked player. If she had to lose, better to fall to a friend also struggling to carve a niche on the women’s tour.

“I knew I wasn’t going to be like Jennifer Capriati and break into the top 10 and be the best player,” Grossman said.

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“It will come.”

Tennis Notes

Julie Halard and Nathalie Tauziat of France won the doubles title, defeating Jana Novotna of the Czech Republic and Lisa Raymond, 6-1, 0-6, 6-1.


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