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Racquet Club rallies to reach state


© St. Petersburg Times, published February 28, 2001

The Racquet Club of St. Petersburg's 3.5 senior men's team overcame losing players to rating regulations, injuries and its final opponent to win the Senior Men's Doubles League title last weekend.

With the win, the Racquet Club squad advances to the state tournament in May.

"It was a really exciting match," said Marshall Craig, captain of the Racquet Club's eight-player team. "Going into the final match with Innisbrook, we played straight up. We had had a lot of fun throughout the season and felt that whatever happened, happened."

What happened first was a scare when all three doubles teams suffered first-set losses.

Unable to rebound from the first-set loss, Craig and Ray Cianci fell 6-2, 6-3 in No. 2 doubles to Innisbrook's Willie Coquelet and Bill Schieman. Steve Uebel and Tony Damouny in No. 1 did rebound and beat Joe Gari and David Wisotsky 4-6, 7-6, 6-3.

"Tony and I have played together all season and even a lot more over the years," Uebel said. "We complement each other's styles, and plus, we have a feel for where the other person is."

The Racquet Club lost four players to the USTA's rating requirements, Vaughn Haight, Jack Weldon, Andy McCloud and Neel Voss, at the begining of the season. With the score tied against Innisbrook, the deciding match rested on the shoulders of the No. 3 teams. And Bob Steel and Don Campagne also rebounded to beat Richard Hough and John Kuhn 6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-1.

"We were glad to be able to dig ourselves out of the hole we created with a first-set loss," Steel said. "And then to come back to win in three was perfect.

"It could have been easy for us to get down after the first set, but we didn't. Instead, we turned it around and kept applying pressure on them. In the third set, we controlled the rhythm, even though they were a good team."

Injuries plagued the team during the season, with Cianci dealing with a back injury, Steel recovery from a surgery and Tom Stewart a torn hamstring. "We set as one of our goals to be able to field a healthy team against Innisbrook," Craig said. "Now we'll concentrate on bringing a healthy team to the state tournament."

To reach the playoff round in the 16-team division, the Racquet Club won its flight among six teams with an 8-2 record. Playoff wins over Countryside Country Club and a second Racquet Club team resulted in the matchup with Innisbrook for the championship.

The trip to the state tournament is the team's first. SUPER SENIORS: The final playoff match for the Super Senior Men's 3.5 Doubles League was to be played Tuesday at the St. Petersburg Tennis Center. SPTC was to meet Innisbrook with the winner advancing to the state tournament in June.

Members of the SPTC team are: captain Fred DeJohn, Al Kline, Bob Allen, Nick Karamessinis, Woody Woodbury, Andy Chau, Brian Linburg, Bob Rosenkranz, Howard Rothstein and Moyses Figuerido.

Women's competition continues with East Lake and Bardmoor winning their second matches in the 3.5 division. East Lake defeated Timber Pines 2-1 while Bardmoor won 2-1 over Shipwatch.

SPCC COMPETITIONS: Bill Christensen won his second consecutive singles title in the men's 55-and-over division with a 6-4, 7-6 victory in the St. Petersburg Country Club's Super Seniors Championships last week. Jim Vuille was second in a field of four in the 90s. Semifinalists included Oscar Steckman in the 75s and Bob Meyerdierks in the 70s.

Bill Gatlin won the 70 consolation title, and Woody Woodbury was second. Vuille teamed with Victor Downer and won the 90 doubles. Hernan Molina and Dick Crawford won the 65s, and Doug Godinho and Wendall Walker won the 60s. Finalists were Tom Avirett and Bill Parsons in the 75s and Ed Hamilton and Jim Mackey in the 60s.

ISLA SOCIAL: Isla Del Sol is showing off its new clubhouse with an open invitation for players to participate in an evening of play 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. March 9. For information, call 906-4752.

MIXED DOUBLES: Sunday's 2 p.m. match between the Racquet Club and Bardmoor will determine the district champion in the 7.5 senior division. The teams are tied after the Racquet Club defeated Royal Racquet Club 2-1 last weekend. Rosemary and Steve Uebel scored a straight-set win in No. 1, as did Suzanne Earle and Jack Weldon in No. 2. Bette and Tony Damouny lost 7-6, 6-3 in No. 3.

JUNIOR COMPETITIONS: Area players qualified for the USTA Super National Championships in April following outstanding efforts in this month's USTA National Open Championships.

George Navas was second in the boys 14-and-under and teamed with Tampa's Evan Dufaux to win the boys doubles. Bugsy Bauer teamed with Kristi Miller of Bradenton to win the girls 16 doubles.

At this month's state designated singles competition, Marc Sawyer and Haley Dodson advanced to the round of 16 in the boys 16 and Kaela Kennedy reached the girls 16 consolation final. COMING UP: Treasure Island Tennis and Yacht Club began its Super Seniors 2001 Tuesday for men's 55-and-over to the 90s singles and doubles divisions. Competition continues through Sunday. Call 367-5479 for playing times. ... East Lake Woodlands is hosting its Spring Adult Classic beginning Friday for men and women in open-division singles and doubles. Call 785-2212 today to enter. ... The USA Tennis Ultimate Workshop is March 10-11 at the Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort in St. Petersburg. Call Jeff Davis at 360-6543 for details.

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