- The Washington Times - Monday, July 31, 2006

A year ago, Wesley Whitehouse was prepared to throw away his racquets and quit the sport he had been playing nearly his entire life.

But then he got a phone call that restarted his career.

“I had so many injuries, and I was struggling to get going,” Whitehouse said. “Then I got a call from a guy in Phoenix, and he told me to come out and try out this coach. That is when I met my coach, Mike Van Zutphen, and he basically just convinced me to keep playing. … So I decided I would give it one more shot, and here I am.”

Whitehouse, who finished the 1997 season as the No. 3 junior player in the world, defeated Nathan Thompson 6-1, 6-2 yesterday to advance to the main draw of the Legg Mason Tennis Classic.

Whitehouse won more than 80 percent of his service points while double-faulting just once the entire match. He will face Denis Gremelmayr today.

In Indianapolis earlier this month, Whitehouse took Legg Mason’s top seed, James Blake, to three sets before falling 7-6(5), 3-6, 4-6 in the round of 16 at the RCA Classic.

“I’ve come a long way,” Whitehouse said. “I struggled to drive a car because my knee was so bad. It’s an awesome feeling. I am playing confident right now, and it is a nice feeling.”

As Whitehouse’s injury comeback continues, Jan-Michael Gambill’s quest to regain top-25 status was squelched. Gambill fell to second-seed Andrea Stoppini 7-6(4), 7-5.

Although Gambill rocketed 10 aces, he could not overcome five costly double-faults and 56 unforced errors. He was also the victim of 14 aces by Stoppini.

“I feel all right. I’m hitting the ball hard, trying to execute points, and I’m doing that fairly well,” Gambill said. “I’m missing some shots I shouldn’t be because my feet aren’t moving. I’m not in position, and I’m not really returning very well. It used to be one of the strongest points of my game.”

Gambill had climbed to No. 14 in the world in June 2001 before a series of injuries led to his plummet to his current position at No. 393.

“I’m taking it day by day,” he said. “You never know. I’m just trying to play some tournaments, and if it doesn’t work out I’m going home to Hawaii. So that’s not too bad.”

With the victory, Stoppini became the only seeded qualifier to advance to the main draw. He will take on Rockville native Paul Goldstein today in the last match on stadium court.

“We played well, and also him, he served very well,” Stoppini said. “Unfortunately it wasn’t a match that turned in his favor. … I served well. I had lots of aces, so I’m happy.”

Stoppini and Whitehouse will be joined by Phillip King and Ryan Sweeting as the four remaining qualifiers out of a 32-player field to enter the main draw.

King defeated Sadik Kadir 6-3, 6-3 in the first match of the day.

Sweeting advanced by taking down Tim Smyczek 6-3, 6-4.

Bryans take top seed

Bob and Mike Bryan received the top seed in the 16-team doubles draw.

The Bryan brothers are the No. 1 doubles team in the world with championship performances at the Australian Open and Wimbledon this year.

They are scheduled to face Jordan Kerr and Bobby Reynolds in the first round. The match most likely will not occur until tomorrow because the Bryan brothers were competing in the finals of the Countrywide Classic in Los Angeles last night.

Reynolds most recently won the doubles title in Indianapolis with Andy Roddick, but Roddick has withdrawn from the doubles competition because of a back strain.

Paul Hanley and Kevin Ullyett are the tournament’s second seed. The pair has won five doubles titles this year but no Grand Slams.

Top players waiting

The top seeds will not begin play until at least tomorrow.

Andre Agassi is scheduled for an evening match tomorrow against the winner of Goldstein/Stoppini.

Roddick will not play until Wednesday evening. He will face either Janko Tipsarevic or wild-card entry Michael Venus.

Venus earned a wild-card entry with a victory at the USTA 18-under Clay Court Championships.

Virginia standout Somdev Dev Varman; Sam Querry, 18; and Scott Oudsema, 20, also received wild-card entries and will play today.

All matches begin at 4 p.m. today.

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