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Venerable city league crowns spring champions


© St. Petersburg Times, published June 28, 2000

The St. Petersburg city tennis league concluded its spring session this month with nine men and four women winning singles championships.

Started in 1980, the league offers flexible scheduling, listing opponents on a weekly basis and letting the players arrange a playing time and site that works best for them.

"It's an ideal league and is so convenient," said Guy Lieberman, the B-2 champion. "The skill-level spread is not big and you always play with some different players each session."

Lieberman should know after playing in the league off and on since 1981. He guesses he has won about 15 sessions altogether since then.

"I saw this one item in the paper about the league and it was really the only time I saw it," said Lieberman. "I had moved here in 1972 from New York when I was about 17 years old. After I called about the league, I've pretty much played in it ever since."

Joining Lieberman as B division winners were David Bernhart in B-3, Ray Howell B-4, Gordon Mantler B-5 and John Royeton B-1. According to league records, Royeton has played in 43 sessions, 11 of which were in B-1. With this win, Royeton moves into the A level.

Winners in the men's A division included Michael Scharmer in A-4 (last session's B-2 winner), Mike Gandeza in A-3, Jeff Roess A-2 and Nik Sukhasam A-1.

Gandeza, who has won in both the singles and doubles sessions in the last four years he has participated, lost his first match in the spring session but went undefeated after that.

"I hadn't played much singles and wasn't in shape," said Gandeza. "I vowed to get back in shape and get my quickness back since so much of my game depends on my ability to move around quickly."

Gandeza, who describes himself as an all-around player who likes to dictate the point, played in the A-1 division last session but his lack of playing prompted him to move to A-3.

"I'll be back to it in September," said Gandeza, "because singles gives you sheer enjoyment and you get everything when you play singles. I like doubles too, but singles does it all."

In women's competition, Carol Strickland won the A-1 title, Kerry Smith the B-1, April Aldrich B-2 and Lorraine Petroski B-3.

Strickland, who has played in the league since its beginning days 20 years ago, was moved up to the men's B-2 division following her A-1 win among the women.

"As a matter of fact, I just won my first match," said Strickland. "I've won the league several times and have always enjoyed it. The league started out good and it continues to be so."

Strickland, like many others in the league, attribute the league's success and longevity to its founder and coordinator, Sue DeLong.

"Whenever I play I always feel I win as long as I have a good game, get my exercise and get something out of the match," said Strickland. "Sue is wonderful because she sees that we all play and we get something more than a tennis game win out of the experience."

The summer session of the city league is in progress and a fall league will begin in September. For more information, call DeLong at 893-7755.

STATE JUNIOR RESULTS: Area players combined for championships, runner-up finishes and semifinal berths in the USTA Florida Section Closed Junior Championships in Orlando last weekend.

Pasco County's Stacia Fonseca and Sukhwa Young earned state titles in the girls 14-and-under and boys 16s divisions respectively. Largo's Marc Sawyer was the runner-up and Tampa's Ryler DeHeart was third in the boys 14s. Clearwater's Bugsy Bauer was third in the girls 14s, Gulfport's Rachel Silverberg was fourth in the girls 12s, and Largo's Alexandria Liles was fourth in the girls 18s.

FLORIDA OPEN ENTRIES: The 10th annual Bush Florida Open Championships begin with qualifying rounds Friday in the boys 16s and 18s singles divisions. Main-draw matches begin July 2 for girls and boys 16s and 18s singles and doubles divisions.

Brandon Pierpont is among the 16s qualifiers and hopes to join the main-draw competition beginning Sunday. Kristofer Goddard, Bryan Lauer and R.J. Murray are entered in the 18s, as are Kelly Nelson, Christina Liles, Katie Fenzl and Jennifer Dent in the girls 16s and Tiffanie Kalvoda, Alexandria Liles and Natalie Tirapelli in the 18s.

Entered in doubles competition are Carl Fenzl and Pierpont in the boys 16s; Goddard and Lauer in the 18s; Nelson, Dent and Fenzl in the girls 16s; and Kalvoda, Liles and Tirapelli in the 18s.

The Bush Florida Open began in 1990 when the USTA felt a third clay court tournament should be added to the junior circuit in an effort to improve Americans' quality of play on the soft surface. The Landings Yacht Golf and Tennis Club in Fort Myers has been the tournament site since its inception.

COMING UP: The 2000 Little Mo Nationals Florida Section event is Saturday through Monday at East Lake Woodlands for those 11 and under. Call the club at 785-2212. ... The Temple Terrace Tennis Center hosts its Adult Clay Court Classic July 7-9 for men and women in open, 30-and-older, 40s and 50s singles divisions. Call Scott Coleman at (813) 989-7180. ... The Summer Junior Classic is at Royal Racquet Club July 8-10 for boys and girls 18 and younger in both singles and doubles. Call the club at 799-3200. ... July's Suncoast Tennis Singles event is at Safety Harbor Spa July 16. Call Les Spang at 581-2020 for details.

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