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Vinoy men finish as national runnerups

Published October 18, 2006

The Renaissance Vinoy's second-place finish at last weekend's USTA National Senior Men's 4.0 League Championship in Palm Springs, Calif., included all the ingredients of an award-winning drama.

With a support team of more than 20, the nine-player team led off its flight competition with a 3-0 win over USTA section Northern. Scott Stewart and Dave Pitt scored a 6-1, 7-6 win in No. 2 and Nga Duong and Don Mathias won 6-3, 7-6 in No. 3. Terry Reeb and David Dickerson survived a third-set tiebreaker to win in No. 1.

Reeb then teamed with Covington Sharp to win in No. 1 against Middle States and was joined by Stewart and Pitt, who won in straight sets in No. 2, to collect a 2-1 team win.

In its third flight match, the Vinoy fell 2-1 to Southern California with only Stewart and Pitt winning the No. 2 spot.

At the end of flight competition, the Vinoy and Southern California were tied with a 2-1 team record but the Vinoy advanced to the semifinals, having posted six individual wins among a possible nine compared to Southern California's five.

"This is my first time to get to a national championship, so this is just an awesome experience for me," Sharp said. "To get this far in league play is amazing."

The Vinoy faced Southwest in its semifinal. Stewart and Pitt posted a 6-3, 6-1 win in No. 2, but Southwest answered with a straight-set win in No. 3. With the Vinoy team's future resting on the outcome of the third and final match, Duong and Mathias lost the first set in a tiebreaker. A highly competitive second set resulted in Duong and Mathias winning in a tiebreaker. With a set each, the Vinoy duo went up 8-7 in the 10-point tiebreaker and Duong served to a 10-7 win. The victory launched the Vinoy to the national championship with New England.

"Who would think we would be in a national tennis championship at this stage in our lives," team captain Stewart said. "It's just awesome. You can't ask for any better thing to happen.."

The Vinoy lost its No. 2 position to a powerful New England pair, then responded with a 6-3, 6-1 win in No. 3 on the play of Dickerson and Reeb. Mathias again was in the team's hot seat, this time with Sharp in No. 1. A 7-5 first-set Vinoy loss was answered by a 6-4 win in the second to force the third-set 10-point tiebreaker. New England took a 2-1 lead which it never relinquished and 10-6 win.

Don Wheeler and Scott Johnston rounded out the team.

MORE LEAGUE NEWS: In the senior women's 4.0 national tournament in Palm Springs, McMullen's team was 2-2 in its five-team flight competition. McMullen beat Midwest and Caribbean 2-1 and fell to Middle States and Mid-Atlantic 2-1. The national champion was Pacific Northwest.

- Among the teams traveling to Tucson, Ariz., this week for the USTA National Senior 4.5 League Championships are the women from the St. Petersburg Tennis Center and men's squad from McMullen in Clearwater.

Heather Nicoll, captain of the seven-player SPTC team, will look to Jackie Keller, Liz Leigh, Clara Reynolds, Diana Gabay, Andrea Martin and Mary Jane Evertz to fill the three doubles positions in its flight matches with Southwest, Hawaii and Pacific Northwest.

McMullen's squad includes captain Ron Massey, Marc Mazo, Jimmy Dundee, Terry Payton, Mike Carroll, Robin Kippenberger, Ralph Howe, Paul Reilly and Jeffrey Julien.

McMullen meets Southern California, Pacific Northwest and Mid-Atlantic in its section. To follow the championships, go to

NET SHOTS: Borut Puc was a straight-set winner in the men's open singles final at the Hunter's Green Adult Challenge. Anna Coy collected the women's open round-robin title and Reinaldo Valor upset the No. 1 in the men's 60 final.

- Sarah Wall girls 12 and under and Adam Norris (boys 14) were straight-set winners in their respective finals in the Countryside Fall Junior Rookie. Playing to the final round were Stephanie Cruz (girls 12), Alyssa Bandes (14), Ganesh Rajaram (boys 10) and Carl Gavine (16).

THIS WEEKEND: The 22nd annual Charity Pro-Am Tennis Tournament begins Saturday at the Bardmoor Golf and Tennis Club and is a benefit for All Children's Hospital. For more information, contact Bardmoor, 391-2205.

News for this column may be faxed to Nancy Morgan, 445-4119; e-mailed to or sent to 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756. Please include phone number.

[Last modified October 17, 2006, 21:43:05]

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