RICHARD Whichello, the 22-year-old Kent left-hander, made a successful

comeback at the Prudential National Tennis championships at Telford

yesterday following a year of misery and frustration.

Whichello, who beat Chris Bradnam 6-3, 6-3 in his opening match,

looked set for a promising career after having made his British Davis

Cup debut against Austria last year. But just before Christmas, while

training in the United States, he collapsed on court with a prolapsed

disc and was out of action for seven months.

''It's been a long, hard road back,'' said Whichello yesterday. ''This

is my first big tournament since last year's nationals. I've lost my

sponsor, had no tournament play, and made no money so it has been pretty


''The one good thing to come out of my enforced break is that I'm much

keener now. My desire to do well is so much greater.''

Whichello, after a first-round bye, was particularly pleased with his

second-round victory over Bradnam.''Chris beat me in the Nationals in my

first match last year, so it was nice to turn the tables,'' he


Yesterday's victory earned Whichello #500, not much by Boris Becker's

standards, but a near fortune for a man who has won nothing in the past

12 months.

Sara Gomer, another player on the comeback trail, also won her opening

match yesterday, winning 6-4, 6-3 in her second-round clash against

15-year-old Jeanette Bhaguandas from Middlesex.Gomer, the British No.1

from Torquay, has been suffering from a hormone imbalance since

Wimbledon and is still not completely cured.