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SPTC team wins state Super Seniors title

The 3.5 men's squad of players at least 60 years old defeats three teams in the doubles competition.

By NANCY MORGAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 24, 2000


The third time was a charm for the St. Petersburg Tennis Center's 3.5 men's team when it defeated Vero Beach to capture the USTA Florida Section Super Seniors Doubles League state title Saturday.

Beginning Thursday, 52 teams in the Super Seniors for players at least 60 years of age competed in three women's and three men's divisions for state honors.

"We had some really tough matches," said team captain Fred DeJohn. "After five matches in three days of competition we were all ready to go home and rest."

The St. Petersburg Tennis Center squad was reduced to seven players when Brian Limberg pulled his Achilles' tendon just days before the competition.

Ormond Beach was the center's first victim as DeJohn and Charles Dorrell in No. 1, Nick Karamessinis and Woody Woodbury in No. 2 and Bob Allen and Andy Chau in No. 3 all won for a 3-0 victory. On the second day, the team was scheduled to play two matches -- against Miami in the morning and Pensacola in the afternoon.

"With the loss of Brian, who I planned to alternate in No. 3 with Michel Antoine, I shifted Michel in the No. 3 spot to relieve Andy and Bob," said DeJohn. "We knew it was going to be hot, and with Andy at 75 years of age and Bob at 76, we didn't want to play them both twice together in the same day."

Against Miami, DeJohn and Dorrell lost in a third-set tiebreaker but Karamessinis and Woodbury in No. 2 and Antoine and Allen in No. 3 won for a 2-1 decision. The SPTC team then blanked Pensacola 3-0 behind DeJohn and Dorrell in No. 1, Karamessinis and Woodbury in No. 2 and Antoine and Chau in No. 3.

A 3-0 semifinal victory over Sarasota on Saturday morning advanced SPTC to the state final with Vero Beach that afternoon.

"For the last two years Vero Beach has been our nemesis," said Karamessinis. "After the last two year's results, we hoped it was our turn."

Against Vero Beach, wins by Karamessinis and Woodbury in No. 2 and Antoine and Allen in No. 3 clinched the state title, but DeJohn and Dorrell were too involved in their own match to notice. Instead, after they lost in No. 1, they walked off the court dejectedly and ready to apologize.

"Little did we know the other teams had won and we didn't have to," said DeJohn. "I think the really critical win for us was by Nick and Woody. Their win was what really clinched it for us."

Karamessinis and Woodbury lost the first set 7-5, and Karamessinis said he really felt their opponents were the better team. In the second set and down 2-1, however, a change of strategy resulted in Karamessinis and Woodbury winning five consecutive games to even the sets at one apiece.

"When we won the second set 6-2, I told Woody not to even sit down but to keep on playing," said Karamessinis. "We had them running and I didn't want them to have a chance to regroup."

The pair went up 6-1 in the third-set tiebreaker and went on to win 7-3.

"Our whole team has really changed," said Karamessinis. "We know the team closest to the net wins the point, so we try to play aggressively. We also practice giving out only positive vibes. We know that people play better when hearing the positives rather than the negatives."

Joining the SPTC team in the Super Seniors winners circle was the 3.5 women's team from neighboring Timber Pines Tennis Club. Timber Pines also was a runner-up in the women's and men's 3.0 divisions.

The Senior Doubles League state championships for players at least age 50 also were held over the weekend, with 82 teams distributed among four women's divisions and four men's. The McMullen Tennis Complex won the men's 4.0 title and will advance to national competition this fall. Saftey Harbor Spa was a runner-up in the men's 4.5 division.

Also winning in the Senior division were the Fort Myers (3.0), Jacksonville (3.5) and Tallahassee (4.0) women's team, and the Punta Gorda (3.0) and Tallahassee (3.5) men's squads.

SUNCOAST CHAMPIONS: The Racquet Club of St. Petersburg was the Suncoast Ladies Doubles League overall season champion and the A Division champion among 14 teams. The team also was first in the A Division of the fall and spring sessions and was first in the fall B Division.

Playing in the A Division for the Racquet Club were Kiki Flynn and Sue Gutierrez (No. 1), Angie Locke and Lynne Saylor (No. 2), Donna Brewer and Jean Krause (No. 3), Chris Agee and Margaret Wood (No. 4), Irene Haggar and Gail Razook (No. 5), captain Karen Mann and Sandy Martin (No. 6) and Darcy Giroud and Patti Johnston (No. 7).

B Division teams included Pat Miller and Sue Clark (No. 8), Nancy Rutland and Nancy Siver (No. 9), Barbara Curtis and Tina Marks (No. 10), Leslie Fisher and Jane Saylor (No. 11), Suzanne Earle and Beth Cook (No. 12), Sherrl Fry and Leslie Scanlon (No. 13) and Charlotte Kendall and Joyce Sewel (No. 14).

Bardmoor Golf and Tennis Club was second overall, won the overall B Division, and was first in both the spring overall session and the B Division.

PROS LEAGUE: The Pinellas Pro League makes its debut at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Treasure Island Recreation, Tennis and Golf Center. The league, sponsored by the Suncoast Tennis Foundation, features social, competitive singles and doubles match play for tennis directors and head and assistant teaching professionals.

A short meeting of the Professional Tennis Association, led by president Vince Trapano, will follow the competition.

For more details on the biweekly league, contact USA community coordinator Jeff Davis at 360-6543.

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