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Up-and-comers come to Clearwater

Published February 14, 2007


Future stars will be within driving distance this month.

The Sheriff Jim Coats Clearwater Women's Open at the McMullen Tennis Complex in Clearwater began Monday with a pre-qualifier among 50 players. It concludes with the main draw of 32 singles and 16 doubles teams Feb. 20-25.

The event, which benefits the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Suncoast is part of the Pro Circuit, a stepping-stone to the WTA and ATP tours. Among those who started on the Circuit are Maria Sharapova, Andy Roddick, James Blake and Justine Henin-Hardenne.

Among the local players in the pre-qualifier are Erin Heeder, Kara Kucin, Morgan Frank, Becky Bodine and Anna Yakimova. Top junior player Alexandra Cercone was awarded a wild card into the qualifier and Morgan Basil into the main draw.

Basil, who turns 15 on Tuesday, began competing in 18-and-under tournaments when she was 11. Last year, her travels included Bolivia, Mexico, Taiwan and Venezuela. Last week, Basil was in Canada for the $50,000 International Tennis Federation tournament.

"I think I've benefitted with getting used to traveling and playing a higher level of competition and especially getting used to stronger, bigger players," Basil said. "I've especially improved in becoming more competitive."

For tournament details, call 669-1919 or go to

LEAGUE NEWS: St. Petersburg Tennis Center improved to 4-0 in the senior 8.0 mixed doubles league last weekend with a 3-0 win over the Racquet Club. Winning were Joanne Valone and Andris Cakarnis at No. 1, Judy Ralph and John Green at No. 2 and Heather Nicoll and George Pequignot at No. 3.

- The Racquet Club's senior 3.5 men's team improved to 3-0 last weekend with a 3-0 win over Southwest. Winning were David Laesser and Vaughn Haight at No. 1, Bob Dilonardo and Dennis Harwick at No. 2 and Marshall Craig and Larry Sewall at No. 3.

- Two St. Petersburg Tennis Center senior 4.0 women's teams squared off last weekend. The SPTC squad with captain Susan Hobbs defeated the SPTC team with captain Pat Colacchio 3-0. Winning were Carol Glenn and Barbara Brutus at No. 1, Linda Miller and Gisela Leyva at No. 2 and Hobbs and Ann Worthington at No. 3.

- In Super 70 3.5 men's action, Shipwatch Tennis Club beat Innisbrook 3-0. Straight-set winners were Henry Van Drunen and Al Blackburn at No. 1, John Finlayson and Johnie Howard at No. 2 and Billy Oliver and Peter Priston at No. 3.

NET SHOTS: Admiral Farragut hosts a wheelchair exhibition sponsored by the Baseline Wheelchair Tennis Foundation from noon to 1:15 p.m. Feb. 23. A cadet military review follows. For details, call 384-5502, Ext. 248.

COMING UP: The West Coast Super Seniors Grand Prix is at the St. Petersburg Tennis Center beginning Monday. Singles and doubles for men in 55-90 age divisions are offered. For details, call 823-2225. ... St. Petersburg Country Club hosts the Raymond James Super Senior Grand Prix, a USTA Category II event, beginning Feb. 26. Competition is in men's singles and doubles in 55-90 age divisions. For details, call 867-9105 or e-mail

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 a phone number.

[Last modified February 13, 2007, 22:17:38]

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