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St. Petersburg tennis leaders were among those recognized last weekend during the 53rd annual meeting of USA Tennis Florida.
Among the highlights of the three-day celebration in Daytona Beach was the grand opening of Florida Tennis Center, a public facility that houses the state association's new headquarters.
Honored were the organization's four founders, one of whom was St.Petersburg's Ed Turville. He became Florida's first president in 1949, served as U.S. Tennis Association president from 1962-63 and was the 1970-71 Davis Cup team captain.
"Seeing how far this association has come makes me very proud," Turville said.
During the awards presentations, area leaders were among those featured. The Tennis Foundation of St. Petersburg was presented the USA Tennis Florida Member Organization of the Year award for the efforts of its volunteers to provide the sport to the community through junior and adult programs.
Johanna Patterson and Danielle Gladd, TFSP board members, and St.Petersburg Tennis Center teaching professional Rick Crockett accepted the award.
"The impact tennis has made on my son is phenomenal," Gladd said. "I never even played until Keenan had me take him to the center. Now, that's all he wants to do."
Bob Meyerdierks, among the center's regular players, received the USA Tennis Florida Male Player of the Year award. The 75-year-old wasn't at the ceremony because he was doing what he loves most -- playing tennis.
Meyerdierks was selected to represent the state in the USTA Men's Intersectionals in Jackson, Miss., last weekend. Competing with teammate Gene Nolan of Jupiter, Florida's 75 squad placed second to USTA Southern.
Meyerdierks, who splits the year living in Florida and North Carolina, has achieved state and national rankings the past 10 seasons. He has been among Florida's top 10 in 65-and-over, 70 and 75 singles 10 times, including twice at No.1.
Meyerdierks has been ranked first in doubles seven times. This year, he finished third in the USTA National 75 Indoor Championships and won the doubles title with Jim Mackey.
"I guess I've been blessed with not having injuries and with having good genes," Meyerdierks said. "My dad lived to 96 and was quite a fella."
Sam Vuille, St. Petersburg Country Club tennis director, received the USA Tennis Florida Outstanding USA Team Tennis (Youth) Area League Coordinator award for directing a summer program for the White and Blue divisions in USA Team Tennis.
"I got my start at the St.Pete Tennis Center when my parents played there -- they actually met there -- and I've always wanted to be able to provide some of the opportunities for kids to play like I had," Vuille said.
The final area leaders recognized were Barry and Maria Cercone. They received the USA Tennis Florida Tennis Family of the Year award.
"Tennis is all about family, and without family support none of us would be able to do what we do," Maria said. "I believe this award is definitely one of the best to receive, and I am extremely proud."
Maria, Bardmoor Golf and Tennis Center director, has served as an officer in the organization the past two years and is a national committee member.
"Barry has always been there to support all of us," Maria said of her tennis-playing family, including Nicole, 20, Alexandra, 10, and Nick.
"Nick, I think, is the most proud of our award," Maria said.
A final celebration included the installation of new officers for the 2003-2004 USA Tennis Florida administration.
Maria Cercone will again serve as an officer.
CELEBRITY CHALLENGE: Four teams of eight players competed in the B and G Celebrity Challenge, to benefit the Abilities Foundation, at Feather Sound Country Club last week.
Mixed doubles winners were Terry Hubener and Chris Pagac, Johnnie Clark and Charlotte Wheeler, Barbara Sealund and Bob Shuck and Kitty Robinson and Jim Currey.
The runners-up were Margaret O'Grady-Roset and Chuck Connors, Deborah VonBrunt and Blane Sherk, Dee Thompson and John Smith and Betsy Brown and Roger Snow.
NETS SHOTS: Winners in the Fall Classic, a benefit for St.Petersburg High School tennis teams, were Pat Brady (A men's division), coach Alan Turnquist (B), Linda Miller and Matthew Gallardo (boys C). ... Dave Krebs, ranked fifth in the state in the 65 class, was among the members on the USA Tennis Florida squad that won its division in the USTA Intersectionals last weekend.
HOMECOMING: St.Petersburg Tennis Center is having a member-guest homecoming 3:30-7 p.m. Nov.9. For information, call 823-2225.
COMING UP: The first event in the Suncoast Tennis Foundation Rookie Grand Prix for juniors is Saturday at St.Petersburg Country Club. For information, call 867-9105. ... The 18th annual Bill Burnson Rotary Doubles Tournament is Sunday at Seminole Lake Tennis Center. Call 392-1834 or 391-9611. ... East Lake Woodlands will have its Super Series this weekend for all junior divisions. Call 785-2212.