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Florida is runner-up in intersectional doubles


© St. Petersburg Times, published April 4, 2001

Thanks to the performances of several area players, Florida finished in second place in last month's U.S. Tennis Association Intersectional Team Doubles in Wild Dunes, S.C.

The USTA Southern Section placed first overall, and USTA Southern California was third behind Florida.

Janet Newberry-Howe, Ralph Howe and Jeff Winkler joined a team of over 30 competitors from Florida to battle in age-division doubles among 17 USTA sections. There was play in five women's doubles divisions, five mixed and six men's. Divisions ranged from 30 and older to 80s.

Newberry-Howe teamed with Winkler in the 30s mixed division; Howe was with Paul Caldwell of Daytona Beach in the men's 60s. Participation in intersectional team doubles was a first for all three, although tournament experiences fill their resumes. "Playing the intersectionals was so much fun," Newberry-Howe said. "You had the instinct you were rooting for others and forming a bond with them. It was delightful to see everyone play and admire the ability of the players of all ages."

Newberry-Howe, a professional player in the 1970s, especially admired the older competitors. They displayed a more complete attack compared to today's power game.

"You also find that tennis is a small world and that everybody knows somebody who knows somebody else," she said. "I met players like Roy Barth from South Carolina, who was coach of the Wightman Cup team when I played. I've known Roy for 35 years but hadn't seen him in ages."

Newberry-Howe, although ranked as high as 17th and the 1977 Italian Open champion, found the intersectional event a refreshing one compared to the pro grind.

"After professional tennis, I developed a much better perspective about playing," Newberry-Howe said. "I want to have fun, make friends and share those friendships."

Winkler, a St. Petersburg attorney, is an avid tennis competitor who has participated in local, state, national and international tournaments.

"I've enjoyed playing internationally and just love competing," said the former college player and a top-ranked state competitor in the 40s division. "I had never played this intersectional event before, and it was really a lot of fun."

Newberry-Howe and Winkler defeated teams from the USTA Midwest Section and USTA Southern California before facing USTA Southern in the mixed 30s final. There, against a well-established doubles team, Florida fell.

Howe, the winner of three national doubles championships in the men's 50s division, was coming off knee and back surgery with his last competition in August. Howe and Caldwell defeated teams from the USTA Eastern Section and the USTA Texas Section. Four losses resulted in a sixth-place finish in the 60s.

NATIONAL NEWS: More than 600 volunteers nationwide attended the U.S. Tennis Association's annual meeting in Tucson, Ariz.

Area volunteers participating were Sue DeLong, on the Community Tennis Association and USTA Nominating committees; Maria Cercone, youth competition; and Roger White, officials. USTA President Merv Heller announced that the focus of the USTA during his two years as chief executive of the national governing body of tennis is to "take tennis to the people" through the development of community organizations.

IT'S OFFICIAL: Terry Logan, district chair of the Officials Committee in the Tampa Bay area, encourages anyone interested in becoming a certified official in the U.S. Tennis Association to contact her, 864-3188, for information on training opportunities.

There are nearly 40 officials in the Bay Area Tennis Officials Association.

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