Mary Joe Fernandez has packed a lot of tennis into her 15
WIMBLEDON, England (AP) _ Mary Joe Fernandez has packed a lot of tennis into her 15 years and 10 months.
She reached the quarterfinals of the French Open, the third round of the U.S. Open and, now, the fourth round at Wimbledon.
It was there Tuesday that she learned how much more tennis she has to learn.
Fernandez, of Miami, Fla., was eliminated from the grass-court Grand Slam tournament by a woman almost twice her age, 30-year-old Diane Balestrat of Australia, 7-5, 6-2.
Balestrat was to next play defending champion Martina Navratilova in today’s quarterfinals, while Fernandez gets to think about what she missed.
″When I was growing up, my heroes were (Bjorn) Borg and Chris (Evert). I guess I tried to copy them,″ Fernandez said.
Last year at Wimbledon, Evert defeated Fernandez in the first round, and Fernandez said she ″realized I had a lot to learn. I guess I’m still learning.″
Fernandez was born in the Dominican Republic. When she was 6 months old, her family moved to Miami, where she learned tennis on the clay and hard courts of southern Florida.
She won the Orange Bowl 12-and-under and 14-and-under crowns, beating Gabriela Sabatini of Argentina on the way to both championships. Sabatini, 17, is now ranked seventh in the world and will be in the quarterfinals against 18-year-old Steffi Graf of West Germany.
Fernandez also won the 16-and-under and 18-and-under crowns, the last coming last year.
It was on clay that she first made her international mark, losing in the quarterfinals to Helena Sukova of Czechoslovakia, 6-2, 6-4.
Fernandez led the first set against Balestrat 4-2, before the Australian broke serve and held for 4-4. Balestrat broke again for a 6-5 lead and served out the set.
The second set was all Balestrat, with the Australian building a 5-1 lead. Fernandez held for 5-2 with a strong serve-and-volley game before Balestrast served out the match.
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