Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Frazier reverses ranking decline

By Neil Schmidt
Enquirer staff writer

MASON - Amy Frazier is a creature of habit.

The two coats of sunscreen she applies before every match. The rocking motion, forward and back, as she awaits an opponent's serve.

And those rackets. To be exact, the Michael Chang graphite model, made by Prince but discontinued about five years ago.

"When I knew they were stopping, I bought a bunch of them," Frazier said. "I love the racket, and I hate change."

So Frazier and her 30 Chang rackets endure together. Half of those rackets, she has never unwrapped, and the other half she uses in a rotation.

She has never broken one, so she doesn't worry that she'll ever have to change models.

Yet she knocks on wood after saying this.

"Watch, now one will fly out of my hand tomorrow and break," she said.

The racket story is emblematic of Frazier's career.

The Rochester, Mich., native carries on at age 31, her performance never slipping. She spent 14 consecutive years in the top 50. After she dipped to No. 61 at the end of 2003 - a hiccup, really - she has rallied to her current No. 24 ranking.

As the third seed in the Western & Southern Financial Group Women's Open, she beat Stephanie Foretz 6-2, 7-5 Monday in the first round.

"I was playing well last year, too," she said, dismissing her rankings dip. "But sometimes you get on a roll, win close matches, and your ranking changes. I try not to look at the ranking."

Monday marked her first victory in Cincinnati, 16 years after she lost in the first round of both the singles and doubles draws at the 1988 Pringles Light Classic.

She will face fellow American Mashona Washington at 7 p.m. today in the day's featured match.



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