© St. Petersburg Times, published June 27, 2002
The first stage in the journey to the USA League Tennis National Championships has concluded for local teams.
In the past two weeks, winners have been determined in the men's and women's 3.5 and 4.0 divisions. They will join 3.0 and 4.5 winners in next month's West Regional Championships in Longboat Key.
Last weekend, Feather Sound Country Club wrapped up the women's 3.5 title and Phil Green Tennis Academy clinched the 4.0 crown.
Feather Sound scored a 4-1 win over Westin Innisbrook Resort, securing the club's second consecutive trip to the regional tournament.
"All of us had played 3.5 last year, and we just decided to put our best foot forward and enter again," captain Kari Kiewatt said. "We've worked on our games with lessons all season.
"We knew we would have to play our best to beat Innisbrook in our last playoff match," she said. "All of our playoff matches were tough, though, so it was a good warmup for us for regionals."
Against Innisbrook, No.1 singles player Grace Winter and Kiewatt produced two points for Feather Sound. Karen Augustine and Carol Stowasser (No.1 doubles) and Robyn Williams and Kathy Wilson added two more.
A third-set tie-break win from Innisbrook's Josie Doucette and Sue Luidens prohibited a clean sweep for Feather Sound.
Rounding out its squad are Lori Clarke, Helen Friedman, Jan Cox, Maggie Smith, Ann Matherlee, Terry Hubener and Dede Natale.
The PGTA team was undefeated in the regular season. In the playoffs, it beat East Lake Woodlands 5-0, Treasure Island Tennis and Yacht Club 4-1 and Racquet Club 4-1.
"I think one of the reasons for our success was the team members' commitment," PGTA captain Marlene Flament said. "With such a long season of nine matches, it took the dedication of the players to make the time to play each week.
"Also, we're all pretty evenly matched in ability and know each other pretty well. All of that helped us be successful."
Flament, May Laraya, Fran Gentile, Marilyn McCurdy and Marie Teixeira shared the club's two singles positions, leaving Marion Murch, Anne Morgan-Pulley, Ria Graham, Gail Pierce, Sharon Carlile, Kay Clark and Carol Cotney to fill the three doubles spots.
In men's playoffs completed earlier this month, Treasure Island Rec captured the 3.5 title and Seminole Lake Tennis Center took the 4.0 championship.
Emerging from a wild-card position, Treasure Island Rec defeated Feather Sound Country Club and the Renaissance Vinoy with 3-2 decisions. A 5-0 win over Phil Green Tennis Academy clinched TI Rec's first regional berth.
"This is our fifth year to play in the league," captain Jim Bush said. "We're all really excited. George Pequignot and Bill Pullen have been with the team all of those five years, so it's even more enjoyable for them.
"We have exceptional singles players in Ken (Arlinghaus) and Dale (Eckholm)," Bush said. "That takes a lot of pressure off our doubles teams. Ken's been undefeated all season, and Dale has only lost two. All through the season, we could count on those two to usually give us two points."
The other TI Rec members are Richard Cowan, Hank Houser, Greg Price, Larry Sommer, Roger Pryor, Steve Dohring, Brett Jones, Timothy Wolfe and Jared Lagemann.
Seminole's 4.0 team, led by captain Dan Callahan, has been together 10 years. It's advanced to regional action five times in the past six seasons.
A 9-0 league mark gave Seminole the top playoff seed and home-court advantage. Victories of 4-1 over McMullen and Countryside set the stage for the deciding match with a second Seminole squad guided by captain Red McGarry.
Dan Mollica (No.1 singles) and Wendall Walker and Don Kirby (No.3 doubles) posted the first two points for Callahan's team. McGarry's bunch responded. A third-set tie-break victory in No.1 doubles from John Beda and Mauro Rodriguez lifted the score to 2-1.
But Mike Collins and Scott Chambers (No.2 doubles) secured a 3-2 match for Seminole-Callahan with the third point in a third-set tie-break set. Robert Schultz in No.2 singles completed the action with a 6-4, 6-3 victory for Seminole-McGarry.
"Our local league was very tough, and the competition goes up every level," Callahan said. "We have some team members that have been to regional, state and even national. That experience will be helpful for all of us."
Rounding out his squad are Doug Godhino, Richard Farci, Les Gustin, Gary Lucke, Jim McCook, Isaac Vicente, Jeffrey Mars, Tony Henrion and Douglas Allen.
Other clubs qualifying for the West Regional, July 19-21, are McMullen's men and women (3.0 and 4.5), PGTA's 5.0 men and St.Petersburg Tennis Center's 5.0 women.
JUNIOR CLOSED: The 54th Florida Junior State Closed Championships were completed despite a rain-interrupted weekend at sites in Daytona Beach and Altamonte Springs. Fourth-seeded Christina Liles finished second in the girls 14-and-under division. Second-seeded Goran Dragicevic (boys 18) and No.3 Kyle Kunnen (16) each placed third. George Navas, seeded sixth, advanced to the round of 16 in boys 16, and No.3 Morgan Basil was a girls 10 quarterfinalist.
BUSH OPEN: Local junior players competing in this week's Bush Florida Open Championships in Fort Myers include No.6 Kelly Nelson and Yuri Kurashima (girls 18); No.12 Bugsy Bauer, Yumi Hasegawa and Liles (16); Adel Naser, Dimitry Bubis, Patrick Gleason, Haley Dodson and No.1 Dragicevic (boys 18); and Stephen Segura (16).
NET SHOTS: Second-seeded Austin Kondor of Largo upset the top seed to capture the boys 12 title in last weekend's Summer Classic at Seminole Lake Tennis Center. Belleair's Kirk Kucin won the consolation draw. Kara Kucin joined her brother in the winner's circle with a 6-1, 6-1 final victory in the girls 10 division. Clearwater's Ashley Hungerford was the girls 14 runner-up. Anthony Barrancotto was second in boys 10.
Nicholas Berning (boys 14) and Basil (girls 12) defended their No.1 seeds in the Summer Classic at Phil Green Tennis Academy in Safety Harbor. Garrett Betsarakis was the boys 12 runner-up.
The Royal Racquet Rookie Tournament winners included Brett Apter in the boys 14 class. Jarrod Fox won the consolation draw.
Clearwater Beach Recreation is offering lessons and clinics by teaching professional Kevin Manning and hitting instruction from Franz Henikl. For information, call 669-1919.
The McMullen Tennis Center is having the TEAM USA Singles Flex League for men rated 4.0-5.0. Call 669-1919 to sign up before Friday's deadline.
COMING UP: The Clearwater Summer Classic, for juniors, is scheduled for Saturday-Monday at McMullen. For information, call Tomas Ollestad, (727) 669-1919. ... The Largo Tennis Center is having a coed league at 6:30 p.m. the first and third Friday of each month. Call Linda Kettel, 403-8588. ... McMullen will have a social Friday, offering mixed doubles play and refreshments. Call 669-1919.