Monday, August 09, 1999

Losses build character for former UCLA star

Gimelstob insists game is improving

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MASON — Justin Gimelstob doesn't think his ranking tells the story.

        He comes into the Great American Insurance ATP Championship as No.103 in the world. Today, he faces 62nd-ranked Australian Jason Stoltenberg in the first round (8 p.m., Grandstand Court).

        Gimelstob, 22, is one of the young American standouts. He finished last year ranked No.80. His highest career ranking came in April when he hit 63.

        “My year's been pretty much summed up by a lot of good matches that I just haven't won, a lot of close losses,” he said. “Hopefully the best is yet to come this summer.”

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        The Livingston, N.J., native is coming off a first-round loss in Montreal to Sebastian Lareau and a tough loss in Los Angeles two weeks ago. He was serving for match point against Wayne Ferreira, lost the point, then the set (7-5) and ended up dropping the match 5-7, 7-5, 6-2.

        Gimelstob, who played in college at UCLA, was playing on his old home court and in front of many friends and family.

        “(That) made it a little more disappointing,” he said.

        It has indeed been a year of frustrating defeats.

        He has lost in three sets nine times. He lost in five sets at Wimbledon. Eight times, the last set of a defeat either ended 7-5 or 7-6, and his final set at Wimbledon was 9-7 in favor of Jens Knippschild.

        “It's spiraled,” Gimelstob said. “... and you have a tendency to have a little less confidence in those situations than you would have if you got through a lot of them.”

        There are 11 Americans ranked ahead of Gimelstob, but only one is younger (No.49 Jan-Michael Gambill, who is roughly four months younger).

        “I know generally where I am ranked,” Gimelstob said.

        “It's tough. I know I'm improving as a player. Your ranking doesn't always indicate how you're developing or how you're playing and vice versa. It's important for me to understand that and keep working hard and keep developing my game, and hopefully eventually my ranking will reflect my development.”

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- Losses build character for former UCLA star