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St. Petersburg center set for homecoming


© St. Petersburg Times,
published October 31, 2001

There's an open-ended invitation to a party Saturday at St. Petersburg Tennis Center. From 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Homecoming 2001 offers a full schedule of activities -- demonstrations to clinics to free court play -- for all players of all ages and levels.

The event is a celebration of the center's 66 years in existence and the creation of the Tennis Foundation of St. Petersburg.

History is embedded in the center's clay courts -- matches that featured Jack Kramer, Don Budge, Rod Laver, Margaret Court Smith and Martina Navratilova. It was there that a young Chris Evert won her first professional match against legendary Billie Jean King.

On Oct. 1, the foundation -- volunteers dedicated to the preservation of the historic site -- assumed operation of the center.

Three teaching pros with a strong attachment to the center are handling the instructional activities. Those individuals are head pro Doug Woods, Dan Sullivan and player-coach Rick Crockett.

Woods played at Gibbs High and Fisk University in Tennessee. He had teaching experiences at Harry Hopman Academy and Bollettieri's Tennis Academy.

After a stint as tennis director at a facility in Venezuela, Woods returned to the area.

"My primary goal here as the head pro is to produce elite and national champions from the local neighborhoods," Woods said.

"I'm very proud of the young children who have taken advantage of our programs," he said. "I see them as future tennis champions."

Crockett, who attended Lakewood High and had a junior tennis career at the center, played for an All-Army team before signing on with Hopman in 1979.

During a 17-year career at the academy, Crockett not only coached elite players but was a fitness director. Jim Courier, Jennifer Capriati and Mary Pierce are among the pro players Crockett traveled with early in their careers.

Sullivan, characterized as the "Blue Ribbon Pro" after a stellar playing and coaching career, is making his third trip back to SPTC to teach.

Known world-wide for his teaching, Sullivan brings nearly 50 years of experience to the courts and a competitive resume that includes a No. 29 national ranking. In addition to introducing the teaching pros to the public Saturday, there will be exhibition matches. Some of the locals expected to play are Janet Newberry, Sam Vuille, Jeff Winkler, Jeff Davis, John Block, Mike Reilly and Jeff Chambers.

For information, call the center, 823-2225.

NATIONALS: The senior women's 4.0 team at Treasure Island Recreation, Tennis and Golf Center narrowly missed advancing to the final four in last week's USA League Tennis National Championships in Palm Springs, Calif.

The TI squad finished its flight matches in a three-way tie with a 2-1 record.

To break the deadlock, the team with the fewest sets lost was named the winner. TI lost nine sets in nine matches. Georgia, a 2-1 loser to TI in flight play, dropped four sets and advanced to the final four.

The Mid-Atlantic USTA section from Virginia finished first, followed by Northern California, Delaware and Georgia. Northern California won the senior men's 4.0 national title.

In the round-robin flight competition, Treasure Island's Susan Hobbs and Patti Prestera won all three of their matches. Ann Worthington and Joan Plaster were 2-1, as were Donna Brewer, Jean Krauss and Lynn Klein. The team won seven of nine possible position matches. It played five three-set matches, winning each.

STATE NEWS: The USTA Florida Section announced its newly approved name, USA Tennis Florida, during its 52nd annual meeting last weekend in Daytona Beach.

LEAGUES: USTA Florida Section-sponsored doubles leagues ranging from men's and women's senior and super senior divisions to adult and senior mixed are forming.

The coordinators are Judy Murphy (727-815-9618), senior women; Josie Doucette (727-862-1656), super senior women; Seaton Kenworthy (727-785-8399), senior and super senior men; and Erika Boardman (727-399-2459), Liz Dunlop (727-391-0811) and Bob Hagerman (727-391-4380), adult and senior mixed leagues.

New this year in mixed doubles is Sunday noon play for the adult league and Sunday 3 p.m. matches for the senior league.

NET NOTES: Morgan Basil of St. Petersburg reached the girls 9-and-under semifinal round of the Little Mo National Championships in Austin, Texas, before losing to the top seed. In a playoff for third, Basil defeated the fourth seed 6-3, 6-2. ... Jonathan Bonner teamed with Alamgir Wali to win the boys 18 doubles in last weekend's Pete Wolfberg Super Series at Royal Racquet Club in Clearwater. ... Anthony Barrancotto won the boys 10 consolation in the Top Gun Satellite Circuit last weekend in Tampa.

COMING UP: The ninth annual Ariel Goldman Tennis Classic, a fundraiser for the Good Samaritan Health Clinic in New Port Richey, begins Thursday with its Tennis Ball draw party and continues with competition Friday-Sunday at Paul Kronk Tennis Club in Crescent Oaks.

A Junior Super Series is Nov. 10-12 at East Lake Woodlands and features both singles and doubles. Call the club at (727) 785-2212 before the Nov. 5 deadline.

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