St. Petersburg Times
Neighborhood Times
Special report
Video report
  • For their own good
    Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
  • More video reports
Multimedia report
Print Email this storyEmail story Comment Letter to the editor
Fill out this form to email this article to a friend
Your name Your email
Friend's name Friend's email
Your message


Outlook sunny for a favored sport

Published May 2, 2007


Channel 10 News chief meteorologist Dick Fletcher played basketball, baseball and golf while growing up in Omaha, Neb., and didn't try tennis until he was about 35 and working as a news reporter in Denver.

A charity tennis tournament caught his eye, and though Fletcher had never played before, he was an eager participant. From that point, tennis became his primary sport.

"The tournament was a lot of fun and it got me started in tennis, " said Fletcher, 65. "My whole family played golf. Maybe my mother had a tennis racket somewhere in the house, but golf was the family's sport for everyone except me. I played tennis sporadically until I left Denver in 1976. I was working in Corpus Christi and Omaha for a while until I came to Florida in 1980."

Tennis again took a backseat for Fletcher from about 1986-93 due to work commitments. As his work schedule allows, Fletcher has been able to resume playing and he has kept up the game.

"Tennis lets me forget everything else on my mind, " Fletcher said. "I truly need down time - we all do - and tennis allows me to have that. When I'm on the court, I just think about one point, one game at a time. I love my work and I love the escapism provided through tennis. What I'm looking for is that complete mix of tennis and work."

Fletcher usually plays three times a week, takes a weekly lesson from teaching professional Jack Carey and a weekly clinic from Carey. The St. Petersburg Tennis Center is his home base.

In March, Fletcher teamed with Tony Colacchio and won the men's 60 doubles title at the East Lake Woodlands Senior Championships. The past three years, Fletcher has played in the USTA Super Senior Doubles League, teaming with Jim Kelly or Colacchio.

"Tony and I won all four of our super senior matches this year, " Fletcher said. "Our games match up really well. We don't need to talk, but just seem to know where the other is on the court."

LEAGUE NEWS: Feather Sound Country Club's 6.0 men's team reached the top four in the nation in last weekend's USTA Super Senior National Championships at Daytona Beach. Feather Sound beat USTA sections Midwest, Southwest and Hawaii with 2-1 scores. A 2-1 semifinal loss to overall champ New England ended the team's run.

- Men's and women's Combo Doubles League competition will include 6.5, 7.5 and 8.5 divisions. Women's 6.5 and 7.5 will play Tuesday mornings, 8.5 Tuesday nights, 7.5 Thursday mornings; men will play Saturdays beginning in June. For more information, contact coordinator Norm Ott, 526-7966 or

NET SHOTS: Alexandra Cercone teamed with Jacqueline Kasler of Gulf Breeze to win the girls 16-and-under doubles title in the prestigious Easter Bowl Junior Championships.

- Sisters Yasmin and Alexis Franco upset top seeds to claim the girls 14 and 12 singles titles, respectively, in last weekend's Largo May Day Rookie Tournament.

- Last month's pro-am events at Bardmoor raised nearly $30, 000 for the Climb for Cancer Foundation. Winning the women's division was Kay Caldwell with Jaun Coronel. Tim Jennings paired with Alex Clayton to win the men's.

COMING UP: Make plans to participate in the USTA National Tennis Month May 12 at Clearwater's McMullen Tennis Complex. The Suncoast Tennis Foundation is partnering with Clearwater and the local USPTA teaching professionals for the free 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Tennis Block Party for all ages and all levels. Contact

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 May 1, 2007, 20:10:27]

Share your thoughts on this story

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Subscribe to the Times
Click here for daily delivery
of the St. Petersburg Times.

Email Newsletters