St. Petersburg 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

Many locals claim singles divisions

Published May 24, 2007


Local players won eight of the nine women's singles divisions 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 3.0, Willa Cruz (3.5), Teresa Thompson (4.0-minus) and Sara Taweel (5.0). Men's winning included Keith Lyle (3.5-minus), David Dada (4.5), Bill Radford (5.0) and Andre Mittag (6.0-minus).

Cruz was a little surprised at her success in her second season in the league. Undefeated in the regular season, the Palm Harbor resident won the Tampa Bay final in straight sets.

"I'm a lefty who plays mostly from the baseline and feels comfortable with my topspin forehand," Cruz said. "I'm kind of inconsistent on my two-handed backhand, but I'm able to hit quite a few winners off my forehand. Now, I'm looking forward to playing this summer in the 4.0-minus."

Former college player Taweel came to Clearwater in 2004 to find a position as a graphic designer following her graduation from Abilene Christian University in Texas. Originally from Syria, Taweel hadn't played tennis since graduation in 2003, but eventually started looking for opportunities to play again.

"I found that my shots were still there, but I was inconsistent and my fitness had to be built up," Taweel said. "I'm motivated now to keep playing and probably in the fall will play the league again, as well as some tournaments."

Lyle, a former professional football player who played free safety for the St. Louis Rams, the Washington Redskins and the San Diego Chargers from 1994-2002, entered his first season of ultimate tennis to get in shape; he also liked the competition. After working on getting his timing and footwork together, Lyle relied on his natural athletic ability to raise his game.

"I played tennis when I was young but hadn't played for the last eight or nine years," said Lyle, 35. "When I decided to get into tennis, I took one lesson and then signed up for the league. The league does a real good job with rating and making it easy to get to all the facilities in your division.

"I found that once I got going and played more, I was able to better focus on what I needed to do. My strength is my athletic ability, and I find that my serve is usually to my advantage."

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

It was Dada's first time to compete in ultimate tennis, and his adaptable style provided good results.

"I change my game according to who I'm playing," Dada said. "I'm more of an all-around player because I can adjust my game. My forehand is pretty strong, and my second serve is especially good and to my advantage."

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, as well as 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 then tied with a 4-1 record, Countryside was named the state champion in a tiebreaker with 12 individual wins, compared to Lee/Charlotte's 10.

Competing for Countryside were Ed Ostiguy, Jim Serrabella, David Buell, Art Esterbrook, Bob Poffenberger, Mike Barnett, Kyle Duncan, Richard Boderek and Larry Livingston. David Foster is the team captain.

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 its flight, and the Racquet Club's 4.0 men were last in its flight of five.

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

Finalists included Julia Teytelbaum in the girls 16, Aaron Carey the boys 10 and Aaron Ellison the boys 18.

-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.

-About 90 youths competed in the Team Tennis Junior League's season-ending tournament at Harbour Island Athletic Club last weekend. During the season, nearly 300 players from 22 different facilities participated from Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties.

Each team match included four singles and two doubles, with the winner determined by total games won.

In the Pinellas playoff, McMullen Midgets won the 12B for 12-and-under beginners; McMullen Monsters won the 12A for 12 intermediate level, and Largo Stars won the 15 intermediate..

-In this month's Seminole Lake Tennis Center May Challenge, Kimberly Herrock collected the girls 12 round-robin singles title. Amy Lowther (girls 14), Zackary Benham (boys 12) and Jackson Murphy (boys 14) defended their top seedings.

COMING UP: The 17th Annual Memorial Day Charity Tennis 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. ... The McMullen Tennis Academy offers 10 weeks of tennis and activity camps for 6- to 17-year-olds. Call 669-1919 for details. ... The Tennis Connection Summer Camps for kids begins this month. For details, go to

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 23, 2007, 21:16:02]

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