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Up-and-comers come to Clearwater

By NANCY MORGAN
Published February 14, 2007


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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 www.clearwateropen.bgcsuncoast.org.

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 spcctennis@aol.com.

News for this column may be faxed to Nancy Morgan, 445-4119; e-mailed to namorgan@tampabay.rr.com 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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