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Vinoy team serving notice with Jeffs

By NANCY MORGAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 9, 2000


When Ed Jagger, captain of the men's 5.5 team, heads to the USA League Tennis state competition Friday and calls for Jeff to take the court for matchplay, Jagger will get three responses.

Jagger is safe in his call, however, for in addition to the three replies come former All-American and state- and nationally-ranked players.

"It's a great situation to be in," Jagger said. "Jeff Davis is No. 1 in the state in the men's 40s. Jeff Chambers was an All-American in college and is one of the top players in the 35s. Jeff Winkler is also a top player in the men's 40s."

The squad based at the Renaissance Vinoy heads to Orlando this weekend to challenge for the state championship and right to represent Florida at the USA League Tennis National Championships.

The team will face clubs from Tallahassee, Gainesville and Lakeland in a round-robin format.

The squad that sports the best overall record after three matches is declared the winner.

"You never really know who you'll face until you get there," said Davis, a native of St. Petersburg and graduate of Lakewood High School and the University of Florida.

"I'm sure when we get there, we'll recognize some players from tournaments we've played," he said, "but we'll just go ready to play."

Davis, a USA Community Coordinator for the USTA Florida Section, has competed in tennis much of his life and thrives on the competition.

After college, he played the satellite circuit for a couple of years and continues to compete at the state, national and international levels.

Davis, 42, has been state-ranked No. 1 in age division-competition seven of the last nine years.

"Jeff Davis and Jeff Chambers will share the singles spot for us at state," Jagger said. "We've got a lot of strong singles players, like Neal Tourdo, Jeff Winkler and myself, but I think those two are the best."

Chambers, who graduated from St. Petersburg Catholic High School, was an All-American at the University of North Carolina his sophomore year.

After graduation in 1987, he played the satellite circuit in Europe for about three months.

Then, a 10-year absence from tennis competition occurred.

"I just got busy with my career and family and just stopped playing," said Chambers, an attorney. "I started playing again recently because I wanted my son Austin to see me compete at some sort of competitive level."

Chambers recently entered and won two singles tournaments in preparation for this weekend's challenge.

Winkler, an attorney in St. Petersburg, has played league tennis since 1984 and is drawn to the format for its team sport qualities.

"Everything I always felt was great about team sports is true with league tennis," said Winkler, state-ranked No. 2 in the 40s behind Davis.

"This team is clearly the strongest 5.5 team we've put together. We always try to play straight up and put our best at the top. If a team can beat us that way, more power to them."

Other members of the 5.5 squad include John Block, Dave Anderson, John Kunnen and Hans Gallauer. Jagger plans to use them all and put forward the strongest team possible for each of the three matches.

Joining the Vinoy club are the men's 4.5 team from Treasure Island Recreation, Tennis and Golf Center; the men's 3.0 squad from Feather Sound Country Club; and the women's 3.0 group from East Lake Woodlands Country Club.

Each division has four teams representing regional winners from last month's competitions held around the state.

JUNIORS AT NATIONALS: Area players competing in USTA national hard court tournaments include No. 3 seed Kelly McCain in the girls' 18-and-under in San Jose, Calif.; No. 2 seed Alexandria Liles and Kelly Nelson in the 16s in San Diego, Calif.; Bugsy Bauer, Stacia Fonseca, Miranda Gutierrez and Brianna Williams in the 14s in Fairburn, Ga.; R.J.Murray in the boys' 18s and No. 2 seed Sukhwa Young and Dillon Brozyna in the 16s in Kalamazoo, Mich.; Patrick Gleason and Yuichi Uda in the 14s in San Antonio, Texas.

LITTLE MO NATIONALS: Morgan Basil of St. Petersburg won the girls' 8s singles title in the Little Mo East Regional Tournament and earned the right to compete in the nationals, Oct. 27-29 in Alpharetta, Ga.

Another player advancing to nationals is Alexandria Cercone, who finished second in the girls' 9s regional tournament in Alpharetta last weekend.

In all, 55 girls and 52 boys competed in the regional tourney among the 8s, 9s, 10s and 11s age divisions. The four semifinalists in each regional division qualified for the national.

JUNIORS AT STATE: Competing at the USA Team Tennis State Championships last month in Lakeland was the Lakewood 10-and-under coed squad that included Whitney and Kristen Rahall, Jane Hobby, Michael Tuthill, Peyton Cesave, Anthony Barraucotto and Jeff Hobby.

The Lakewood team was among 101 teams with over 750 players competing in the annual event.

SEMINOLE COURTS: The city of Seminole held a grand opening ceremony last month for its revamped Tennis Club Park at 7283 113th St. N, next to the fire station. The park expanded its two courts to four and is negotiating with Ripley Amell, tennis director at Seminole Lakes Tennis Center, to coordinate classes.

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