- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 14, 2001

He's not an up-and-coming player or a former champion trying to regain his top form. And he likely won't throw a scare into many players when he's drawn as an opponent.

These days, playing in the main draws of tournaments usually requires Ronald Agenor to get through Challenger events and qualifying matches it's rare he receives a bid directly into the main draw. This hardly seems like an ideal situation for a 36-year-old player who once reached No. 22 in the ATP rankings.

But Agenor plays on.

So there he was at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic this weekend, prepared to win two qualifying matches to get into the 56-man field. He dispatched Mashiska Washington in straight sets Saturday but lost to Wayne Black 4-6, 7-5, 6-0 yesterday.

Even with the setback, Agenor, who is ranked in the 160s, remains focused on his goal: getting back into the top 50.

"The problem is I'm aware of what I'm doing. I'm aware of everything, whereas guys who are 20 years old, they don't think about anything other than playing tennis," Agenor said. "But I think that should play to my advantage, and I should be smart enough to turn things around."

Agenor took off much of 1997 to recover from burnout, and consequently his ranking tumbled from the mid-100s to 790. It would seem irrational to relaunch a career after taking a year off at such a late age; Agenor would have to play Challenger and Futures events, tournaments for players who need to boost their ranking because their current one doesn't get them into main draws. But Agenor wasn't finished.

Agenor moved to the United States from Europe in 1997, a change of venue he said helped in his comeback. He compiled a 28-9 Challenger record in 1999 and raised his ranking to 98, becoming the oldest man to appear in the ATP top 100 since Jimmy Connors in 1992.

Agenor doesn't employ a coach; instead, he is trying to become one. He coaches several Futures players, including Michael Joyce, who played in the qualifying matches at the Legg Mason.

Still, Agenor isn't done playing yet.

"My problem with my ranking is I have to play [qualifiers] in a lot of big tournaments," Agenor said. "It's hurting at my age.

"It'd be nice to get back in the top 100, hopefully before the end of the year. We'll see."

Oh, brother

Four sets of brothers are entered in this year's doubles draw at the Legg Mason Bob and Mike Bryan, Murphy and Luke Jensen, John and Andy Roddick and Torrey and Jan-Michael Gambill. The Bryans are the top seed in the 32-team draw. The other three pairs received wild-card entries from the tournament committee.

A fifth set of brothers, Byron and Wayne Black from Zimbabwe, are entered in the doubles tournament but are playing with different partners.

More rain

Not surprisingly, another group of thunderstorms rolled through the area yesterday, and the downpours suspended play for about two hours. All of the qualifying matches (postponed from Sunday) were completed, while one first-round match Cecil Mamiit's 6-3, 6-2 victory over Justin Gimelstob was finished before the rains came just before 6 p.m.

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