Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Barretto Not Fretting over Early Loss

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Barretto Not Fretting over Early Loss

Article excerpt

In almost any other year, losing in the first round of a tournament would have been a huge disappointment for Mario Barretto. Not this year.

If there was anyone who was just happy to be playing in the USTA National Men's 35 Indoor this week at Town & Country Racquet Club, it was Barretto. Seven months ago, not long after his 35th birthday, he suffered a broken neck vertebrae in a car accident.

By his reckoning, he came within a millimeter of being paralyzed or even killed. The injury was especially frightening because Barretto makes his living teaching tennis, at Algonquin Golf Club and Town & Tennis.

He wore a neck brace for 2 1/2 months before beginning a slow recovery that still isn't complete. After his first-round loss, he won two consolation rounds before his exit Tuesday. In doubles, he and Jim Hammond got to the third round.

He feels tight when he plays and lacks full range of motion, "but I can play," he said. "When this happened, I thought I might not be able to. It's such a relief to be able to run and do the things I like to do."

Four years ago, Barretto won the men's singles title in both the Dwight Davis and Martin J. Kennedy tournaments. But then his game began to slide.

"The last three or four years I didn't have as much fun playing," he said. "I put pressure on myself after winning some tournaments, and it was reflected in some of my showings.

"Now I'm not worrying about whether I win or lose. I realize it can be taken away at any time."

Meanwhile, the tournament's singles final is set for 6 p.m. today, with third-seeded Dick Schneider of Eden Prairie, Minn., to face fourth seed Val Wilder of Springfield, Mass. Schneider stopped top seed Mike Barr 6-1, 6-0, and Wilder beat Mike Shore 6-2, 6-7, 6-3. The doubles final will follow.

Elsewhere: Toby Clark repeated as champion of the Bud Simpson Open, defeating 1992 winner Amine Boustani of Springfield, Mo., 7-6, 6-4. Laura Guignon won the women's title, beating Traci Jesse 6-2, 6-2. …

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