It was close. Much closer than either Doug Ganim or Dan Obrenski would care to have it . . . a come-from-behind, third-set tiebreaker.

The result was a long, tiring match that moved the No. 1 seeded team into the round of eight battered, but not beaten.Ganim, from Powell, Ohio, and Obrenski, North Versailles, Penn., beat Dale Johnson and John Negrate, both of Schaumburg, Ill., 15-3, 10-15, 11-8. (In racquetball the third-game tie breaker is to 11 points.)

They were not, said Ganim, supposed to be that tough.

"I mean, 15-3. We figure, `Oh well, now what.' Then they adjusted and we didn't. That second game, I don't know. We didn't play well."

What happened after the first game, said Johnson, was, "We started to put on more pressure. We started to hit deeper . . . make them play back more . . . cut down the unforced errors and let them make the mistakes."

In the tie breaker, the underdogs went up 7-4. Then, after a one-minute timeout, control swung again. The top seeds pulled even on back-to-basics racquetball.

"We've been in this position before in a tie breaker. What we do is go back to what we go best. Dan covers the court well, so I let him roam. I go for the kill shots. It's risky, but when you're down you've got to do it."

The last time Terry Latham, of Albuquerque, N.M., and Linda Porter, of Elgin, Ill., played doubles together was back in 1986.

There were two other times before that dating back to 1980.

What brought them together for the U.S. National Racquetball Doubles Championships going on at the Sports Mall, was that this past summer they played singles and did well . . . "Linda won the 30 singles, and I was runner-up in the 35 singles," said Latham.

"So, we said `Why not.' We haven't played together much, but we're good friends and I think that helps the chemistry a lot. Besides, we've played in three tournaments in 10 years and as a team we're 3-0."

Thursday, it was almost 3-1. Holly Gray, of Irvine, Calif., and Kim Russell, of Villa Park, Calif., the World Intercollegiate singles champion, posted a strong win in the second game to force a tie breaker.

In the playoff, however, Latham and Porter let their somewhat limited experience speak for them.

"We tried to keep Gray from taking control. It's like setting a pick in basketball. She took control of the second game, and we had to adjust in the playoff," said Latham.

The event will continue through Sunday, with finals being played in 34 divisions. According to Rick Strout, tournament director, over 600 of the country's top racquetball players entered the event.

On a local level, the Storeys kept their title hopes alive in the A class. The father/son team of Tim and Eric, only 13, beat Ric Belden of Grand Junction, Colo., and Jim Cooper, of Salt Lake City, 15-7, 10-15, 11-4.

With the exceptions of the finals on Sunday, the event sponsored by Cannon Industries and Ken Garff, is open to the public, with the exceptions of the finals.