Women in town for pro tennis
By wire services
Published February 28, 2006
Women's professional tennis takes to the courts today at Clearwater's McMullen Tennis Complex for 32 aspiring players in the Sheriff Jim Coats Clearwater Women's Open.
The $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit event includes players from 12 countries with world rankings from No. 167 to No. 316. Puerto Rico's Vilmarie Castellvi , a 2005 Pan American Games doubles silver medalist, is the top seed with the No. 167 ranking.
Four Americans with Florida ties are in the 32-singles draw, including fourth-seeded Jessica Kirkland of Miami, No. 6 Tiffany Dabek of Bradenton, No. 7 Sunitha Rao of Bradenton and No. 22 Ellah Nze of Tampa.
Kirkland, 17, qualified for the 2005 Australian Open and won the 2004 Orange Bowl title. Dabek, 25, qualified for the 2005 U.S. Open and opened the 2006 season by winning the $25,000 Pro Circuit January event in Tampa. Rao, 20, had a 14-15 Pro Circuit record last year to earn a No. 206 ranking. Nze, 17, is unranked and will be competing in just her fourth professional event.
There are 94 Pro Circuit events around the country with prize money of $10,000 to $100,000. The tournaments are the pathway to WTA Tour-level competition.
Competition begins at 10 a.m. today for half the 32 singles draw and some of the 16-team doubles competition. Action continues through the week with singles and doubles finals on Sunday.
For playing times, call the McMullen Tennis Complex at (727) 669-1919.
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