Down a set and struggling, Jim Courier vented his frustration by knocking a ball the length of the court and into the 10th row.

He received a warning for ball abuse from chair umpire Richard Kaufman."I don't know if I'll get a fine," Courier said later. "But I think I can afford one."

That's because Courier went on to beat David Wheaton 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in Sunday's final of the International Players Championships. The first-place prize of $179,000 was the biggest payday of Courier's five-year career.

Courier also won a tournament at Indian Wells, Calif., on March 10. He has earned $329,785 this month and moved into the top 10 today for the first time.

"I'm feeling pretty good," he said. "I guess I'm hitting the ball well, feeling confident, winning the matches."

The 20-year-old Dade City, Fla., native has gotten hot at the right time; he'll play with the U.S. Davis Cup team for the first time in its opening-round match at Mexico this weekend.

After receiving the warning for ball abuse, Courier lost that game but won the next five to take the second set and grab a 2-0 lead in the third. He had no further outbursts and had no problem with Kaufman's warning.

"He had to do it," Courier said. "We talked on the changeover. I said, `Boy, I should get a signing bonus with the Reds for that hit."'

The unseeded Wheaton, 21, had lost his opening match in his previous four tournaments this year but won six straight at Key Biscayne. His serve kept him in contention against Courier - Wheaton had 10 aces - but it also got him in trouble.

Wheaton had seven double-faults, the final one on break point to give Courier a 4-3 lead in the third set. Courier held his final two service games for the victory.