St. Petersburg's Sagase receives awardBy NANCY MORGAN
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 1, 2003
Mike Sagase of St. Petersburg didn't finish atop a division in the city's flex league this session, but he thinks his prize is more special than a winner's trophy.
At St. Petersburg's annual banquet for the 22-year-old league, Sagase was recognized with the sportsmanship award. The previous winners of the award, started in 1994, are Carol Haskitt, Tonu Toomepuu, Diane Sawyer, Josh Morey, David Bernhart, Charlie Samaha, Carol Strickland and Pam Myers.
"It's definitely a real honor to receive this plaque," Sagase said. "I didn't know beforehand and when Tonu stood up to read this three-page description about this year's winner, I began to guess that I was the one he was talking about.
"All I know is I love tennis and Sue DeLong with the city puts her heart and soul into the league to make it run well," Sagase said. "We even have players from Hillsborough County that come over to play. It fits a real need for a lot of players."
Sagase, raised in Connecticut, didn't begin playing the sport until he was in his 30s and regrets not having started as a youngster.
"My brother, who was a pretty good player, got me started," Sagase said. "He taught me. Those were the only lessons I've had.
"I played in the A-2 division this season and did okay but will need to do better to reach the A-1."
Sagase's award, he said, recognizes the individual that best exemplifies etiquette on the court. Plus, he said, his passion for the game extends to promoting the league to others.
"About two years ago, I started a league, the Dynamic Doubles Dudes, that meets on Saturdays at Puryear Park," Sagase said.
"It's a fun but competitive group that's now grown to 16 players. We do things other than tennis together now and have become friends off the court. I encouraged some of them to join the flex league." After working 28 years, Sagase retired and moved to Florida. But then he worked about four more years with IBM as a project manager.
"I've been retired, the second time, the last five years and love playing tennis," Sagase said. "It's the best individual sport, and you can play it your whole life.
"Friends have asked me since I'm retired, what charity am I volunteering for. Well, I feel the Dynamic Doubles Dude is a form of giving back to others," he said.
Sagase has won several of the singles leagues in the past but was plagued with some health issues last year.
Practicing this week with A-2 winner Brett Gee, Sagase says he's injury-free for the first time in a while and is ready for the season that begins later this month.
The flex league's fall session had seven women's and 12 men's singles divisions, along with two men's doubles groups and mixed competition.
Although stretched to four three-set matches in his six victories, perennial A-1 champion Nik Sukhasam prevailed. In A-2, Gee was undefeated in 12 matches and will advance to A-1 play.
John Powell lost his first A-3 match to John Royeton, but went on to win the next eight for the division title.
Winners with unbeaten marks in the "B' class were Art Carta (B-5), Allen Sanchez (6) and Craig Shirley (8). John Green had just one loss, to Joe Gillette, in B-4.
Playoffs were needed to determine champions in four of the "B' divisions. Tom Soule defeated Ken Ford in B-1, Rick McAleer beat Andy Smith in B-2, Kal Nekvasil posted a victory over Lowell McKee in B-3, and Dennis Mullins beat Phil Nolan in B-7.
In women's singles, all winners were unbeaten. They were Joan Mylchreest (A-1), Janice Drinkwine (A-2), Janet Towns (A-3), Vila Songbandith (B-1), Roberta Davis (B-2 Red), Gail Pugh (B-2 Blue) and Bette Leanes (B-3).
Terry and Scott Donovan were unbeaten in 10 B-1 matches. Ron Martin was perfect in 10 B-2 matches, with John Corrigan and Tim Murphy splitting playing time.
Carolyn and Ryan Perry lost just two matches to capture the mixed division crown.
To conclude the league, a tournament was played. Janet Matthews topped the women's "A' singles, and Sukhasam was the men's winner. Soule beat Green in the "B' competition. In doubles, Sukhasam and Noi Saypharath took the men's "A' championship, and John Trusler and Mark Kaiser won "B'.
HOMECOMING: The 34th annual Sullivan Homecoming Invitational Tournament brought together 24 of teaching professional Dan Sullivan's former students for an afternoon of singles competition. The top four players battled in a tie-break playoff. Larry Turville defeated Thinh Duong, and Jeff Winkler played past defending champion Jeff Davis. In the final, Turville defeated Winkler. A portion of the entry fee was directed to the First Serve Grassroots Program at St. Petersburg Tennis Center.
CHRISTMAS BOWL: Anastasiya Sokolova won the girls 18-and-under singles division in last weekend's K-Swiss Christmas Bowl at Cheval Country Club. Fourth-seeded Daichi Murata, who trains at Seminole Lake Racquet Club, finished second in boys 16 competition. Belleair's Kara Kucin beat Becky Bodine of Tarpon Springs in the girls 12 consolation final.
MEETING: USA League Tennis adult coordinators will have a captains meeting at 7 p.m. Jan. 16 at Clearwater's Feather Sound Country Club. Among the subjects to be discussed will be rule changes, procedures for reporting scores and TennisLink. For information, call Carol Levin, 797-8416, or Clark Higgs, 724-0509.
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