Jason Horwitz credits an increased confidence level for a victory in the K-Swiss Spring Singles Championships 6.0-minus division.
The Oldsmar resident, a former player for Miami University in Ohio, has focused more on competing the past few years, working with teaching professional Steve Smith in Tampa.
"Before the K-Swiss season began, I had been playing well, and working with Steve has raised my confidence," said Horwitz, 32. "My division was extremely competitive with even matches, so for me the main difference was confidence."
In the final, second-seeded Horwitz played No. 1 Greg Montesanti of St. Petersburg. Horwitz rebounded from a first-set loss to win 3-6, 6-4, 7-6.
"I grew up in Ohio and played since my high school days," said Horwitz, who came to Florida after he finished dental school at Ohio State. "I've been been here six years and decided after school that I wanted to get a national ranking."
Last year, Horwitz was ranked in the 60s in the 30-and-older division. He's among the top 15 in Florida.
"I'm looking forward to moving up to the 6.0 in K-Swiss this summer," Horwitz said. "The challenges will be there, but I feel confident."
Horwitz is joined by several other Pinellas players who claimed Tampa Bay crowns, including Colleen Martin (3.0), Victoria Hess (4.0-minus), Janet Eschenroeder (4.5), Charlie Abell (4.0), Paul Tomey (4.5-minus), Phil Hubbell (5.0) and Jon Bloom (5.5).
Eschenroeder also captured the K-Swiss Regional Championship crown in a straight-set match with Petral Klos of Fort Meyers. Martin, who plays at Countryside Country Club, took the 3.0 Tampa Bay final with a 7-5, 6-3 win over Cathy Hayes and advanced to collect the regional title by default.
Hess, a Treasure Island Tennis and Yacht Club member, recorded her third K-Swiss win. It was Bloom's first season, and he found all his matches highly competitive.
"My basic strategy is to keep the ball in play and wear out my opponent," said Bloom, 35. Six-foot-five Abell used a serve-and-volley strategy to capture his championship. The East Lake Woodlands member lost just one regular-season match and won five times in the playoffs. Tomey, who spends the summers in Michigan, lost once during the regular season, receiving the sixth seed in the playoffs. The 63-year old, who plays at the Racquet Club in St. Petersburg, won three straight-set matches en route to a 6-0, 6-2 finals victory.
Clearwater's Hubbell was especially motivated after his 7-5, 6-2 semifinal win over nemesis James Gatza. Registration for the K-Swiss Summer League continues through today. For information, contact 347-2522 or www.ultimate tennis.com.
SENIOR TEAMS AT STATE: The 4.0 men's squad at McMullen of Clearwater dominated the competition in the USA Tennis Florida Senior Sectional Championships last weekend.
Winning five matches with 3-0 scores, the 10-player team dropped just three sets the entire tournament to clinch the state title. The players were Wendall Walker, John Rensch, Ed Hamilton , Ron Massey, Hap Ellerby, Eric Goldman, Ron Klieve, John Beda, John Williams and Jeff Persky.
The squad advances to the USTA USA League National Championships, Oct. 7-9 in Palm Springs, Calif.
In 4.0 women's state competition, Treasure Bay reached the semifinals before falling 2-1 to Satellite Beach. Naples was the overall winner.
The St. Pete Tennis Center 4.5 men tied for second in their flight despite beating eventual champion Bradenton. The SPTC women were winless in their four-team competition. Jacksonville was the champion.
The Feather Sound Country Club 3.0 men narrowly lost their bid for a championship. In its five-team round robin, Feather Sound beat Tallahassee, Gainesville and Fort Myers with 2-1 scores but fell 2-1 to Naples. Feather Sound and Naples finished with 3-1 records. But Naples collected eight of a possible 12 individual wins compared to Feather Sound's seven, and was named the state champion.
The Shipwatch Tennis Club 3.5 women won their flight with a 3-1 mark, advancing to the semifinals with Buckhorn. A 2-1 loss halted Shipwatch's title quest. Lakeland defeated Buckhorn 2-1 in the final.
The St. Petersburg Tennis Center 3.0 women finished fourth in their five-team flight. Fort Myers was the overall winner.
The East Lake Woodlands 3.5 men were winless in four matches. Fort Myers claimed the crown.
OTHER LEAGUE NEWS: The Renaissance Vinoy edged Bardmoor Golf and Tennis Club to claim the Suncoast Ladies Doubles League overall championship. The Vinoy won the 14-team league's fall overall title and was first in the fall and spring B divisions. Bardmoor captured the spring overall crown and the A class in the fall and spring seasons.
Vinoy, a first-time league participant, was led in A competition by Leah Adams, Kiki Flynn, Diana Gabay, Heather Nicoll, Teresa Ross, Robyn Bowman, Channing Sanderson, Christine Ennis, Penny Robbins, Fran Gentile, Linda Meehan, Suz Wendkos, Sue Clark and Linda Murray. The B-division players were Barb Andrews, Anne Anderson, Sharon Keegan, Jojo Davis, Ann Winkler, Nancy Rutland, Kari Dickerson, Cecilia Vestergaard, Suzanne Berns, Marian Foelgner, Beth Frierson, Ruth Ann Ott, Kathy Caffrey, Lynne Newton and Lisa Wells. Royal Racquet Red claimed its third consecutive Bi-County Doubles League championship. Countryside White finished second in the 10-team competition, and Royal Racquet White was third. Royal Racquet Red players were Judy Foster, Linda Doty, Betty Adair, Bea Casanova, Val Halgren, Ilona Ingebrand, Coni Pappas, Mary Jo Renner and Linda Stonikas.
NET SHOTS: Agatha Ambrozy (girls 12 division) and Angel Deng (10) defended their top seeds in the Memories in Clearwater at McMullen Tennis Complex last weekend. Second-seeded David Teytelbaum upset the No. 1 player in boys 10 competition. Other area winners were Ashley Hungerford (girls 18) and No. 2 Rebecca Bodine (16). Finalists included Natalie Boruk (girls 12), Julia Claire Jones (16), Alexandra Kitchen (10), Satoshi Yabuuchi (boys 16) and Fabio Pagani (18). Among the consolation winners were Melissa Smith (girls 14), Nathan Diehl (boys 10) and Daniel Counts (16).
Treasure Island Rookie Tournament winners included Boruk (girls 12 class), Michael Dolan (boys 14), Nicolas Tournant (10) and Ricky Symanski (12). Carolina Barnett was a girls 12 finalist, and Emily Hays won the 10 consolation.
Julia Sikorski (girls 12 division) was among the winners in the Saddlebrook Juniors Championships, as was Kitchen (10) and No. 1 Garrett Betsarakis (boys 14). Finalists included Jones (girls 16) and Macey Cook (12).