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Fab five boasts best-in-state rankings

By NANCY MORGAN
Published April 11, 2007


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More than 40 locals captured top 20 positions in USTA Florida's 2006 state adult singles rankings, including five in the top slot.

Earning the state's No. 1 ranking were Oldsmar's Mark Wagner in men's 45-and-over, St. Petersburg's Jeff Winkler 50, Feather Sound's Marc Mazo (55), St. Petersburg's Bob Meyerdierks (80) and New Port Richey's Ria Graham (women's 65).

"Being ranked No. 1 is a real thriller for me, especially with all the great players in Florida," Winkler said. "This is the first time for me to be No. 1 in any division. I love to compete - always have and always will."

Winkler, in his first year in the 50 age division, played three state tournaments and three national, including the USTA national grass court where he reached the quarterfinals, the clay court with a round of 16 finish and a Category II national contest where he played to the semifinals. Winkler's stellar results also earned him a No. 21 national ranking.

Mazo, who won 38 of 61 tournament matches last year, credits his improved conditioning and working with Feather Sound's teaching pro Chris Pagic for his top ranking in the 55.

"Last year, I played pretty well and am always looking to improve," Mazo said. "Overall, I've been more consistent and my conditioning has improved. I even changed the strings in my racket that has helped my serve. Sometimes, it's the little things that make the big difference."

Last year, Mazo captained the 55 men's team that won its division in intersectional competition. Mazo was No. 16 in USTA rankings. Meyerdierks posted a 46-8 singles record in the 80 division to achieve his No. 1 ranking and top USTA position.

Top 20 state-ranked players from the St. Petersburg area include Galin Nizortchev at No. 9 and Michael Tarkowski No. 10 in the open division. Michael Erbe achieved No. 19 in the 40, Steven Reilly No. 11 in 45, Michael Reilly No. 9 and Jack Carey No. 19 in 55.

Ralph Howe leads the 65 division with a No. 5 state ranking and was No. 14 in the USTA. Howe is joined by Don Mathias at No. 7 and Leon Kennedy No. 13. In the 70 division, Dick Crawford earned a No. 5 ranking, followed by Dave Krebs No. 6 and Leo Poulin No. 15. Peter Crewe tied for No. 3 in the 75 and was joined by No. 7 Bill Gatlin and No. 9 Ron Boone. Bud Steckman was No. 7 in the 80 and Tom Avirett was No. 2 in the 85. Among the women, Anna Yakimova was ranked Florida's No. 6 in the open.

Other USTA rankings earned were by Crawford (No. 27), Crewe (No. 20) and Avirett (No. 10).

LEAGUE NEWS: St. Petersburg/Clearwater area league champions in the Super Senior Doubles League leave this week for the USTA Florida Sectional Championships in Daytona Beach. League winners in the 60-plus league include St. Petersburg Tennis Center 7.0 women, McMullen 8.0 men and women and Safety Harbor Spa 7.0 men. The statewide competition is Friday to Sunday with winners advancing to national championships. To follow the competition, go to www.usta.com.

NET SHOTS: Among locals competing for the West Coast squad against the East Coast in the annual Florida Cup in Naples were Jimmy Gatza and Mark Taylor in the 40 division, Wagner (45), Jeff Davis and Winkler (50), Mazo, Alex Deeb and Larry Turville (55), Bill Christensen (60), Dave Krebs and Dick Crawford (70) and Meyerdierks (80). The West Coast team beat the East Coast 30-20 for the fourth consecutive year.

- Area players are slated to travel to California to compete in the April 14-22 Easter Bowl Championships. More than 600 Americans will challenge in the 18-and-under, 16 and 14 age singles and doubles divisions. Among the 16 Florida players are Morgan Frank and Alexandra Moreno-Kaste (girls 18), No. 6 Alexandra Cercone and Kayla Rizzolo (16), Julia Jones (14) and Alex Domijan and No. 2 Johnny Humui (boys 18).

COMING UP: The SPTC Easter Classic is this weekend for juniors. Call 823-2225. ...The inaugural Stroke for Stroke, presented by Morton Plant Mease Health Care, is April 20-22 at the McMullen Tennis Complex. For more info, call 418-8074 or e-mail stroke4stroke@gmail.com ...The fourth annual Tennis Pro-Am, a benefit for the Climb for Cancer Foundation, is April 20-21 at Bardmoor Golf and Tennis Club. Contact Maria Cercone, 392-1234, ext. 2.

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 phone number.

[Last modified April 10, 2007, 20:09:01]


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