Jennifer Capriati, the 14-year-old from Saddlebrook who swept to tennis stardom this summer, won her first professional tournament on Sunday by beating top-seeded Zina Garrison 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 in the final of the Puerto Rico Open. Since turning pro in March, Capriati had reached the finals of the Virginia Slims of Florida and at Hilton Head, S.C., but lost both times.
"What a way to end the year," Capriati said. "Winning here will always be special."
Garrison started the match playing at the baseline and managed to keep Capriati off balance, but the youngster adjusted in the second set.
Capriati, who usually stays on the baseline, attacked the net 28 times and won 20 points.
The players traded frequent service breaks in the second and third sets. Capriati held service just four times in the last two sets while Garrison failed to hold serve at all in the last two sets.
"She got her rhythm going in the third set and hit a lot of winners," Garrison said. "I was just taking the match from point to point."
Capriati hit just 41 percent of her first services and committed 26 unforced errors compared with Garrison's 76 percent service accuracy and 32 errors.
Capriati, however, committed just eight unforced errors in the last two sets.
"She got a little spurt where she wouldn't miss," Garrison said. "She was using her service return as a weapon and it worked."
The victory ensured Capriati of the 14th spot in the 16-player field for the $3-million Virginia Slims Championship. Judith Weisner, Conchita Martinez and Barbara Paulus are trying to earn the final two spots.
Graf beats Sukova, wins Brighton tournament
BRIGHTON, England _ Steffi Graf won her ninth tournament of the year, beating Helena Sukova 7-5, 6-3 in a women's indoor event, her 17th consecutive victory over the Czech.
Graf, who needed only 68 minutes to beat the third-seeded Sukova, won the $350,000 Brighton tournament for a record fourth straight time. She had shared the record of three consecutive victories with Chris Evert.
"It feels good to have won again, but Chris' record wasn't one of the things on my mind," said Graf, who earned $70,000. "But it is nice and I will be back to try and win more."