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Ultimate champs, eight times over

Published May 23, 2007


Local players won eight of the nine women's and 12 men's singles divisions in last weekend's Ultimate Tennis Spring Playoffs at Bardmoor Golf and Tennis Club.

Among the winners in the women's competition were Suzy Petrocelli in the 3.0, Willa Cruz 3.5, Teresa Thompson 4.0-minus and Sara Taweel 5.0. Winning among the men were Keith Lyle 3.5-minus, David Dada (4.5), Bill Radford (5.0) and Andre Mittag (6.0-minus).

"I never picked up a racquet until June of last year, and now I'm in love with tennis, " Petrocelli said. "I didn't have any formal lessons other than some clinics from Linda (Kettell) at Southwest. I just try to hit everything back, sort of like a golden retriever."

Petrocelli, who moved from New York to Seminole four years ago, was 5-2 in the regular season and beat Christine Taibl of Indian Rocks 7-5, 6-4 in the Tampa Bay final.

Thompson played team sports like softball and basketball growing up and became serious about tennis less than two years ago. Drawn to the fitness challenge in singles, Thompson played just her second season in the league this spring. Posting a 6-1 regular-season record, Thompson entered the playoffs as the No. 1 seed.

Lyle, a former pro football player who played free safety for the Rams, Redskins and Chargers from 1994-2002, entered his first season of Ultimate Tennis to get in shape, plus he liked the competition. After getting his timing and footwork together, Lyle relied on his natural athletic ability to raise his game.

"When I decided to get into tennis, I took one lesson and then signed up for the league, " Lyle, 35. "The league does a real good job with rating and making it easy to get to all the facilities in your division."

In the playoff final, Lyle beat Tampa's Laiq Azam 2-6, 6-2, 6-1.

Radford decided since he was turning 50, this was the year to return to competition. In his second season in the league, Radford survived a second-set loss to win the 5.0 playoff 6-4, 3-6, 7-6.

It was Mittag's first season in the league and the former Eckerd College player used his aggressive style and big serve to attack.

"Tennis was a family sport for me growing up in Vero Beach, " Mittag said. "I've played a lot of tennis and as a junior was USTA-ranked. I graduated from Eckerd in 2005 where I played No. 1, 2 and 3 doubles and No. 5 and 6 singles. I'm pretty happy with my results in the league and look forward to playing more."

Ultimate Tennis begins its summer season June 2. Contact the league at

LEAGUE NEWS: Countryside Country Club's 3.0 senior men's team claimed a state title and a trip to a national contest in last weekend's USTA Florida Senior Sectional Championships in Daytona Beach.

In a division of six teams, Countryside defeated Clermont 2-1 and Gainesville and Naples 3-0 before losing 2-1 to Tallahassee. In its final match with unbeaten Lee/Charlotte, Countryside won 3-0. With both teams tied with a 4-1 win-loss record, Countryside was named state champion in a tiebreaker with 12 individual wins, compared to Lee/Charlotte's 10.

In other state senior action, St. Petersburg Tennis Center's 4.0 women's team was a semifinalist, McMullen 3.0 women were third in their flight and the Racquet Club's 4.0 men were last in a flight of five.

NET SHOTS: In last weekend's Memories in Clearwater at the McMullen Tennis Complex, Danielle Collins (girls 18-and-under) and Parker Hayslett (boys 10) defended their top seedings. Collins won 6-2, 6-2 in the final, and Hayslett won in a third-set tiebreaker.

- Debbie Hobbs was runnerup in the women's 40-and-over singles division in last weekend's USTA Adult State Championships in Boca Raton. Hobbs played to the 50 semifinal round.

- In the USTA National Open Championships in Fort Lauderdale, Anna Coy and Anya Yakimova reached the women's open semifinal doubles. Both played to the singles quarterfinal round.

COMING UP: The 17th annual Memorial Day Charity Tournament is this weekend at East Lake Woodlands. The men's, women's and mixed doubles contest is a benefit for the Arthritis Foundation. Call 785-2212.

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 22, 2007, 20:32:28]

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