TENNIS; Clerc on tennis rampage

When it comes to men's tennis these days, three players get most of the attention -- Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, and Jimmy Connors. A fourth named Jose-Luis Clerc may be preparing to crash the party.

Clerc (pronounced Clairk) has gone on a rampage, winning 19 straight matches and his last three tournaments. The streak is vaguely reminiscent of that once compiled by his Argentine countryman, Guillermo vilas, who won 50 straight in 1977 but lost to Clerc in the finals the last two weeks, first at the Washington Star tournament and then at the Volvo International in New Hampshire. Clerc earlier captured the US Pro Championship at Longwood in Chestnut Hill, Mass.

Though few people probably realize it, Clerc (No. 5) has moved ahead of Vilas (No. 7) in the world rankings. If he's not widely recognized, it may be because of his undistinguished record in the major tournaments. Like so many other South Americans, he plays well on clay. Considering how hard he serves the ball , though, a breakthrough on fast surfaces seems only a matter of time.

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