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Local USA League champs get set for regional tourney

By NANCY MORGAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 29, 2000


Adult teams are preparing for USA League Tennis regional competition next month with hopes of advancing to state championships in August.

Earlier this month, three women's teams and three men's survived playoffs to earn district titles and regional berths. Another women's team and two men's won their districts without playoffs.

Representing Pinellas County at the regional July 21-23 in Longboat Key will be East Lake Woodlands' 3.0 and 3.5 teams, the Racquet Club of St. Petersburg's 4.0 and the Treasure Island Tennis and Yacht Club's 4.5 in the women's division, and Feather Sound Country Club's 3.0, the Renaissance Vinoy's 3.5, Seminole Lakes Tennis Center's 4.0 and the Treasure Island Golf, Tennis and Recreation Center's 4.5 and 5.0 in the men's.

For the past five years, the women's 3.0 district championship has come down to a showdown between East Lake and Feather Sound. This year was no different as East Lake won 3-2.

"We won in '97 and '98 and Feather Sound won in '95, '96 and '99," said Pam Wenglasz, captain of the 15-player East Lake squad. "They had the home-court advantage, but we had about about 15 supporters there to cheer us."

A nerve-wracking two-set win by Helen Battles and Pam Dubov gave East Lake the needed third point for the win.

Playing singles for East Lake this season were Diane Rusin, Kathleen Annichiarico and Wenglasz. Joining Battles and Dubov were the doubles teams of Ginger Pfeiffer and Lucia Payne, Shirley Wilson and Ginny Pearlman, Susan Mitchell and Laurie Kahn, and Ellie West and Jan Sebba. Mary Gamlin played with Carmen Wagner, but Wagner is unavailable for regional play.

East Lake's 3.5 women's team is basically the same team that won in 1997 and 1998, according to captain Colleen Roberson. The 12-member squad capitalized on its ability to switch partnerships and positions.

"We pretty much mixed up everyone," said Roberson, "although we used Lisa Flamamd mostly in singles and Gina Roberts and Kathy Lowenstein some."

Cindy Frank and Jeannette Squitero teamed frequently for doubles, as did Janet Loomis and Roberts. Dona Browne, Cindy Corbett, Nancy Jula, Sharon Martin, Laura Midden and Roberson mixed partnerships.

Seminole Lakes Tennis Center's 4.0 men's team hit a milestone this season with its 100th match and third trip to the regional in the last four years.

"We won 76 of those 100 matches dating back to 1993 when this team first got together," said captain Dan Callahan. "We're sort of renegade gypsies that have moved around the clubs, but the nucleus of the team has remained together."

Eric Green, Jeff Mars, Richard Farci and Doug Allen shared singles duties while Don Kirby and Larry Daum, Wendall Walker and Doug Godinho, and Mike Collins and Dick Burnson constituted the doubles competition. Backup players Callahan, Bill Simmers, Stan Brown and Sean McCall also contributed.

"I would definitely say the competition in our district is as tough as anywhere," said Callahan. "Actually, what you see at state or even national competition is the level we have here."

Feather Sound's 3.0 men's team has advanced to the nationals three times and captain Tom Riley hopes a fourth is in order, although this will be the first time since 1992 that regional play is required.

"Compared to any of the other groups of singles players we've had, this is the strongest," said Riley. "Mike Dudich, Bob Dileonardo, Mike Wanger and Kevin Cavanaugh are four equally strong singles players."

Doubles teams include Bob Hicks and Frank Kennedy, Dan Huntington and Jess Chappell, and Chip Frey and Dean Bartels. Rounding out the squad are Dan Diloreto, Keith Stadden, Bob Shuck and Riley.

JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIPS: In the USTA Florida Section Closed Junior Championships in Orlando last week, Pasco County's Stacia Fonseca and Sukhwa Young captured state titles in the girls 14s and boys 16s divisions respectively. Largo's Marc Sawyer was runner-up in the boys 14s, Tampa's Ryler DeHeart was third in the 16s, Clearwater's was third in the 14s, Gulfport's Rachel Silverberg was fourth in the 12s, and Alexandria Liles was fourth in the 18s.

JUNIORS TO NATIONALS: The Bush Florida Open Championships begins qualifying rounds in the boys 16s and 18s Friday with main-draw competition scheduled Sunday through Saturday.

Brandon Pierpont is in the 16s qualifying and hopes to join DeHeart in the 128-player main draw. Also in main-draw singles competition are Kristofer Goddard, Bryan Lauer and R.J. Murray in the 18s; Jennifer Dent, Katie Fenzl, Christina Liles and Kelly Nelson in the 16s, and Tiffanie Kalvoda, Alexandria Liles and Natalie Tirapelli in the 18s. Entered in doubles are DeHeart, Carl Fenzl and Pierpont in the 16s; Goddard and Lauer in the 18s; Nelson, Dent and Fenzl in the girls 16s, and Kalvoda, Liles and Tirapelli in the 18s.

The Florida Open was introduced in 1990 when the USTA decided a third clay court tournament should be added to the junior circuit to help improve the competitiveness of American players on that surface. The Landings Yacht Golf and Tennis Club in Fort Myers has been the tournament's site since its inception.

SENIOR NATIONALS: Bernadine Salvadore of Safety Harbor recently qualified for the Senior Nationals with first-place finishes in age 70-74 singles and mixed doubles (with Albert Vogt of Melbourne) at the Michigan Senior Olympics. The nationals are in July 2001 at Baton Rouge, La.

A LEGEND DIES: Eddie Herr, 93, one of the founders of the 50-year-old USTA Florida Section, died Saturday in South Florida. He created the Orange Bowl International Tennis Tournament in 1947, the Sunshine Cup in 1958 and the Continental Players Cup in 1976, all of which have become recognized as among the most prestigious junior events in the world.

Mr. Herr recently received the International Tennis Federation's Service to the Game Award for his devotion to junior tennis.

CLEARWATER COURTS: Work began Monday at the McMullen Tennis Complex in Clearwater to remove eight of the 17 hard courts and replace them with sub-surface irrigated courts. Kevin Dunbar, the city's director of parks and recreation, said the project should be completed within 75 days, weather permitting.

Also, Dunbar is searching for someone to fill the full-time position of recreation supervisor of tennis, whose key responsibility will be to develop recreational tennis thoughout the city. Candidates can call Dunbar at 562-4800.

LOCAL JUNIOR RESULTS: Scoring double wins this month in singles competition were Katherine Waldthausen and Adel Naser. Waldthausen won the girls 14s title in the SPTC Junior Open and the girls 16s crown in Clearwater's Summer Classic, while Naser won the boys 16s title in both.

Also winning in the St. Petersburg state-sanctioned event were Jose Tolentino in the boys 14s and Nachell Proctor in the girls 12s. Amanda Yogus won the 14s in the Summer Classic.

COMING UP: East Lake Woodlands hosts the 2000 Little Mo Nationals Florida Section event Saturday through Monday for those 11 and under. Call the club at 785-2212. ... Royal Racquet Club hosts its Summer Junior Classic July 8-10 for 18s-and-under in singles and doubles. Call Donna Weiss at 799-3200. ... The July Super Series event will be July 15-17 at the McMullen Tennis Complex. Register for singles and doubles through July 10 by calling 669-1919. ... Suncoast Tennis Singles is July 16 at Safety Harbor Spa. Call Les Spang at 581-2020.

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