tampabay.com

Fund-raising tourney will showcase pro players

By NANCY MORGAN
Published January 19, 2005


In the next 11 days, the chance to watch some of the women's stars of tomorrow is just a short drive to Clearwater.

Beginning today is The Sheriff Jim Coats Clearwater Women's Open at McMullen Tennis Complex. The event is the result of the combined efforts of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Suncoast, City of Clearwater, U.S. Tennis Association, St. Petersburg-Clearwater Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and a mirage of volunteers. Proceeds from the professional tournament benefit the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Suncoast.

First is a 32-draw pre-qualifier. The Clearwater Women's Open is among six USTA Pro Circuit tourneys scheduled in Florida to kick off the season, including more than 90 events throughout the country. The pre-qualifier, today-Friday, includes some top area players, Saddlebrook-trained competitors and other aspiring athletes from around the nation and outside the U.S. The winner secures a wild card into the main draw, and the second- through fourth-place finishers receive wild cards into the qualifier, Sunday-Monday. The main draw, with a $10,000 prize money package, is Tuesday-Jan. 30.

"When we had an opportunity to become involved in bringing an event of this nature to Pinellas County, we jumped at it," said Larry Gilhousen, director of resource development for the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Suncoast. "It's been a while since a professional event has been here, and we're excited to help make it happen."

Gilhousen, whose main office is in St. Petersburg, hopes the clubs will net $9,000-12,000 in this first year. It's not all about the money, Gilhousen said, but about creating opportunities for kids. A newly-formed partnership with the USTA will help bring tennis to eight county clubs and five teen centers. About 4,000 youth, 6-17, are active year-round. About 11,000 use their outreach services, Gilhousen said.

"We're excited about providing an opportunity for the kids to see tennis that they might otherwise never be able to." In addition to the competitions are two events for the community. Saturday, 1-4 p.m., is the Welcome to Tennis event at McMullen for the family. Sunday at Morningside Recreation Complex is Festival de Tennis, featuring clinics for all ages and levels.

STF: The Suncoast Tennis Foundation had its annual fund-raising tournament at Royal Racquet Club. Winners in women's doubles were Michele Pennie and Laura Hungiville (3.5 division), Ann Worthington and Susan Hobbs (4.0) and Janet Eschenroeder and Donna Roberts (4.5). Among the men were Mike Spall and Tom Wise (3.5), Mike Collins and Mark Curren (4.0) and Mike Erbe and Ron Wiser (4.5). Mixed doubles champions were Joe Haas and Katherine Kelly (3.0 round robin), Melody and Grant Raetz (3.5), Linda Thomson and John McConnell (4.0) and Mary Jane Evertz and Kevin Manning (4.5 round robin).

The STF netted $5,000 to help fund its grass-roots programs for youth.

LEAGUE NEWS: The Renaissance Vinoy raised its Senior Doubles League record to 4-0 in women's 3.5 play with a 3-0 victory over Feather Sound Country Club. Winning in straight sets were Kathy Caffrey and Xuan Duong and Lynne Newton and Suzanne Berns. Beth Frierson and Marion Foelgner posted a three-set win. Shipwatch Tennis Club posted its fourth consecutive victory in the women's 3.5 senior league with a 3-0 decision over Countryside Country Club. Lynne Norring and Lynne Jackson and Judith Dunne and Karen Phipps scored straight-set wins for Shipwatch. Kathleen Hogan and Cathy Taggart had a three-set victory. Four teams are competing in the Super 70 Men's Doubles League. PGTA-Gari won its first match over St. Pete Tennis Center 2-1. Winning for SPTC was Doug Eadie and Jim McDonald in a third-set tie-breaker. Rounding out the SPTC squad are Robert Rosenkranz, Nick Karamessinis, George Pittas, Dennis McDaniel, Bob Allen, Andrew Chau, Bud Steckman, Al Kline and Tom Avirett. Other squads include Countryside Country Club and Innisbrook.

NETS SHOTS: Teaching professional Krishnan Anandan, who first came to the area in 1975 to work with the late Harry Hopman and his tennis academy, has moved to Pittsburgh, where Anandan purchased the Lakeview Athletic Club. Bob Meyerdierks won the 80-and-over singles title in the USTA Super Senior Category II Championships in Naples. Ed Hamilton and Dave Krebs reached the 65 doubles final, as did Bud Steckman and John Boliver in 80. Steckman played to the 80 singles consolation, and Leon Kennedy won the 65 singles consolation. Larry Turville, formerly of St. Petersburg, topped the 55 singles and teamed with Gewan Maharaj to collect the doubles crown. Alex Deeb reached the 55 quarterfinals in singles and doubles, and Marc Mazo played to the singles quarterfinal.