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Teaching pros get chance to meet and compete


© St. Petersburg Times, published May 31, 2000

Area teaching professionals had a rare opportunity last week. They got to play and compete in the game they teach others to play.

The Pinellas Pro League was unveiled at the Treasure Island Recreation, Tennis and Golf Center. A project of the Suncoast Tennis Foundation, the area's community association, the league provides a venue for tennis directors and other teaching professionals to interact on the court in friendly competition and off the court to get to know one another better.

"It's a really good way to get together and have a dialogue," said Phil Girardi, tennis director at the Treasure Island public facility and the league's first host. "Too often, we're all so busy at our own clubs that we seldom take the time to sit down with one another and just talk."

Girardi, also district director for the state tennis organization, believes the bi-weekly league play will help open lines of communication among teaching professionals and foster stronger community-based opportunities for everyone.

Jeff Davis, recently hired USA community coordinator for the Pinellas-Pasco-Hillsborough county area, couldn't agree more.

"I would really like to see this grow," said Davis of the league. "It would help create a good atmosphere among the pros and carry over into the pros association we're in the process of forming. Both the league and the association can benefit the pros and in turn benefit tennis."

Davis was hired as a community coordinator in February -- one of four across the state -- to help the game grow. He grew up in the junior competitive world, played college tennis and competed on the men's professional satellite circuit.

"We want the teaching professionals to give us the input on how the league and the pros' association can benefit them," said Davis. "My strategy is to get feedback from the pros as well as encourage them to become a part of it."

In the initial league competition last Thursday, Davis and Girardi were joined by Bill Conway and Eric Hofmeyer from the host Treasure Island club, Kevin Quay from the Bardmoor Golf and Tennis Club, Sam Vuille of Lakewood Country Club, Doug Woods from the St. Petersburg Tennis Center, and Rafael Muzquiz from Innisbrook.

The next Pinellas Pro League matches will be at Bardmoor beginning at 7 p.m. June 8. Contact Davis at 360-6543 or through e-mail at

DAVIS DEFENDS: Davis successfully defended his men's 40s title in the Atlanta Senior Invitational this month. The top-seeded Davis did not lose a set on his way to the championship in the 10th annual national tournament in Atlanta.

Other local players competing included Jose Campos and Roger Cypriano (30s), Juan Cornell (45s), Larry Turville and Pierce Kelly (50s), Ed Turville (55s) and Brad Hamilton (60s). Larry Turville, formerly of St. Petersburg, also won his age division, and his brother Ed, now residing in Naples, reached the semifinal round, as did Hamilton.

ADVANTAGE LEAGUE: The Southwest Swingers finished first among 10 teams in the Advantage Ladies Tennis League. The Swingers, based at the Southwest Complex in Largo, scored 177 points in the three-position doubles league.

Finishing second was Kent, followed by Dunedin in a tie for third with the Sheraton Stars. Madeira Beach Socialites and the Mad Beaches, both based at the Madeira Beach Recreation Center, were seventh and ninth respectively.

K-SWISS RESULTS: Winners in the K-Swiss 2000 spring season tournament at Cheval Country Club in Lutz included Lynn Pratt (4.0) in women's singles and Michael Bleda (2.5), Jon Bean (4.0), Randy Meisner (5.0) and Greg Tournant (5.5) in men's singles.

Registration for the summer season concludes this week for men's and women's singles, women's doubles and mixed doubles. Call 865-0615 to register.

USA LEAGUE UPDATE: USA League Tennis playoffs begin this weekend in three women's divisions (3.0, 3.5 and 4.0) and three men's (3.5, 4.0 and 4.5). The women's 4.5 champion already has been determined, as have the men's 5.0 and 3.0 champions.

The Treasure Island Tennis and Yacht Club's 4.5 women's team; Treasure Island Recreation, Tennis and Golf Center's 5.0 men's squad, and Feather Sound Country Club's 3.0 men's team have qualified for regional tournaments, which are followed by state and national play.

Representing the women's 4.5 team are Joan Simmons and Shoshana Bakshi, who played the majority of singles, Barbara Kalvoda, captain Heather Nicoll, Jackie Keller, Sandy Ellison, Clara Reynolds, Christy Monroe, Norma Rizzo, Sherri Ebelke, Robyn Bowman, Lyn Ballinger, Cari Reagin and Helga Robertson.

The men's 5.0 team includes captain Fred Church, Joel Bennion, Gene Juzwiak, Guntis Barenis, Bill Foley, Paul Stefka, Ralph Stone and Bill Wymer.

Playoffs continue through June 17. Regional competition is July 14-16 in Longboat Key.

SUNCOAST SINGLES: Treasure Island Tennis and Yacht Club hosts next month's Suncoast Singles for men and women. All levels of players are welcome and encouraged to call 397-4231 for more details on the June 11 event.

TEAM TENNIS FOR ALL: This summer's USA Team Tennis for youths will include the Red division for beginning players ages 6-12, White for intermediate levels 10-14, and Blue for beginner to advanced players 13-18. Players should call Sam Vuille (867-9105), Phil Girardi (360-6062) or Doug Woods (893-7301) by the June 16 deadline.

USA Team Tennis for adults begins next month and is sponsored by the St. Petersburg Tennis Center. Matches will be played on Saturday mornings in a round-robin format that will include one singles and two doubles positions per team match. Cost is $30 per player. Call the center at 893-7301 to register.

COMING UP: The Tennis Challenger Series 2000 sponsored by the Suncoast Tennis Foundation/District 12 is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. June 17 at Royal Racquet Club. Players in the 16s, 14s, 12s, 10s and 8s should call Vince Trapano at 799-3200 to register for the singles competition.

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