No longer. De Los R�os has become tennis's latest made-for-TV story. In 1992 she won the French Open junior title, beating Paola Suarez of Argentina in the final. After an unremarkable two years on the WTA tour, she left tennis and married Neffa, a pro soccer player in Paraguay and Argentina. In '97 she gave birth to their daughter, Ana Paula. "I was very happy," says De Los R�os, "but I missed tennis."
A year ago she decided to give tennis one last chance. Playing primarily in regional events, she earned a ranking of No. 151, high enough to make the qualifying field at Roland Garros. She not only blazed through the qualies but also won her first three matches in the main draw, including an exhilarating 7-5, 6-7, 6-4 upset of ninth-seeded Amanda Coetzer. When De Los R�os left the court, she broke down in tears in the tunnel beneath Court Suzanne Lenglen. After hugging Neffa and Ana Paula, she was greeted by a legion of other players, including Suarez, who is ranked No. 46. "It's still so unbelievable," says De Los R�os, who lost to Marta Marrero of Spain on Sunday. "If you told me a year ago I'd be in the fourth round of the French Open, I would've said, 'No way.' "
Vince Spadea's Slump
Making a Habit Of Losing
As Andre Agassi knows, tennis can be a game of dramatic highs and lows. But the abyss into which Vince Spadea has plunged is virtually unfathomable. After having finished 1999 with a career-best No. 20 ranking—and an 8-3 record against players ranked in the top 10—the 25-year-old Spadea is in free fall. His 7-5, 7-5, 6-4 first-round loss at the French Open to 13th seed Tim Henman was his 19th straight defeat, one shy of the ATP tour record, set in 1986 and '87 by Gary Donnelly. "Obviously I'm a better player than where I stand now" says Spadea. "This thing is a long haul, and I'm not going to let it get to me."
Spadea has been beset by injuries this year, and he had to default a match in Portugal because of food poisoning. Most of his problems, though, are above the neck. The notoriously temperamental Spadea is quick to blow a gasket when he falls behind early in a match. Formerly coached by his demanding father and namesake, young Vince recently retained ex- Wimbledon champ Pat Cash to help extricate him from his slump.
Spadea's ranking has plummeted. Heading into the French Open, he was 129th. Winless since last fall, Spadea is in danger of falling so far so fast that he'll have to qualify to reach the main draw of most big events. Spadea will try to end his ignominious streak next week at Queens Club, a Wimbledon tune-up in London, but things might get worse before they get better. Of his 33 victories last season, none were on grass.