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By NANCY MORGAN
© St. Petersburg Times, published February 16, 2001
After coaching and playing tennis competitively for 25 years, Mike Carrigan now spends most of his time just playing for fun.
Carrigan's tennis might be recreational, but rest assured it's aggressive. Whether he's running down a lob or executing a crosscourt drop shot, Carrigan plays hard.
"Tennis is a lifetime sport," said Carrigan, a resident of New Port Richey, "and I plan to keep on playing."
Carrigan didn't grow up playing tennis. Hailing from Huntington, W. Va., Carrigan was a basketball fanatic.
After graduating from Marshall College in his home state, Carrigan took his management degree and gradually worked his way to Florida. For eight years, Carrigan ran the Woodside Racquet Club in Gainesville.
"As I got a little older, I realized basketball got to be a lot harder to play," Carrigan said. "That's when I converted to tennis."
Carrigan got out of the tennis business about eight years ago and became a realtor. Working out of the Largo area, Carrigan first lived in Sand Key before moving to New Port Richey.
After work, he heads to the tennis courts at either Shipwatch Tennis Club or Bardmoor Golf and Tennis Club in Largo, before heading home to Pasco County.
The senior men's 4.0 team at Shipwatch recently won its division in the USTA Florida Section Senior Doubles League and will advance to the state tournament in May.
Carrigan began the season playing doubles with friend Rob Wilson. But when Wilson suffered an injury, Carrigan hooked up with Scott Chambers.
"I didn't know Scott at all, but doubles is doubles," Carrigan said. "I play an aggressive serve and volley game, whether I'm playing men's or mixed doubles."
Carrigan plays mixed doubles in the USTA Florida Section Senior Mixed Doubles League with Mary Jane Evertz on a first-place Bardmoor team.
Last weekend, Carrigan and Evertz teamed up to play in a charity mixed doubles tournament in Clearwater. The Time Warner Mixed Doubles Team Tennis Classic featured 11 teams represented by three groups of varying skill levels. Carrigan and Evertz played in the No. 1 position and went 2-2 in match play, with both losses by an 8-6 pro-set score.
"We get along together when we play," Carrigan said of the team's success. "I don't worry about winning or losing and just have fun. Plus, I never teach or coach when I'm playing. Also, Mary is good at setting me up."
For the second year, Carrigan and Evertz played No. 1 on the overall winning team at the event. Joined by Jill and Larry Jackson in No. 2 and Julie Panton and Woody Woodbury in No. 3, Carrigan and Evertz represented the Suncoast Bay Properties and defeated Antonio's Pasta Grill in the final.
"That was a fun event," Carrigan said. "Mary and I signed up together but didn't know who else would be on the team. We had a nice team atmosphere."
Even though Carrigan has stopped spending as many as 10 hours a day in the sun teaching, the 22-year USPTA teaching pro hasn't totally given up coaching. For the past five years, Carrigan has assisted Hillsborough Community College coach Vickie Schnurr with the school's team.
SENIOR PLAYOFFS: Westin Innisbrook won its first playoff match in the 3.5 division with a commanding 3-0 score over the Racquet Club of St. Petersburg. After splitting sets, the No. 1 team of captain Joe Gari and Bill Schieman won a tiebreaker to earn the victory. Richard Houff and John Kuhn in No. 2 and Willie Coquelet and Jim Smith in No. 3 followed with straight-set wins for Innisbrook.
In other 3.5 senior playoff action, Royal Racquet Club eliminated the Renaissance Vinoy 2-1 and a second Racquet Club team beat Countryside Country Club 2-1.
A "lucky loser" team was drawn from the losers of the three playoff matches to continue play Saturday. The Racquet Club (loser to Innisbrook) will play its clubmate team Saturday, while Innisbrook faces Royal Racquet Club. The two winners will then meet Feb. 24 for the district championship.
SENIOR WOMEN: Innisbrook's 3.5 senior women's team netted three points in its match with Countryside Country Club last weekend to move into a first-place tie with Timber Pines Tennis Club. Timber Pines defeated Bardmoor Golf and Tennis Club 2-1 in its match.
The district champion will be determined after Saturday's final matches and the winner will move on to the state tournament in May.
COMING UP: Cheval Polo and Golf Club in Lutz is hosting a USTA National Open Championship event this weekend for boys 14 and under. Call Francis Cooke at (813) 948-2282 for specific playing times. ... The USA Tennis Ultimate Workshop is March 10 and 11 in St. Petersburg. Tennis enthusiasts interested in starting or helping to start USA Tennis programs are encouraged to contact Jeff Davis at (727) 360-6543.