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By NANCY MORGAN
© St. Petersburg Times, published November 2, 2000
Clearwater is having a party and everyone's invited.
The official grand opening of the refurbished Henry L. McMullen Tennis Complex is next Thursday, 6:30-8:30 p.m., at 1000 Edenville Ave. There's to be entertainmemt, tennis games, refreshments and a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The complex, which opened in 1974, has undergone major modernization, specifically the installation of eight hydro grid clay courts to accompany nine existing hard courts.
The city's Nursery Division lavishly landscaped the new courts with tall-standing Washingtonian palms, Bird of Paradise and flowering bouganvillia.
"We're so excited about these new courts," said Peg Rogers, owner of Advantage Yours Tennis in Clearwater.
Her daughters learned the sport at the city facility.
"For those that chose not to join a club, they can now play on the soft courts and see how good it feels -- and how kind that soft surface is to your body," Rogers said.
New leadership has arrived at McMullen to expand the programming and activity.
Brian Craig, 23, began his duties as Supervisor of Tennis Operations at the end of the summer. He has spent countless hours learning the ropes and meeting the players, local tennis leaders and community members."We want to attract new players and serve the residents as much as possible," said Craig, a Gator recreation graduate with special events and sports management training.
"We want to focus on grassroots programs and develop a more consistent, constant use of the courts," he said.Krishnan Anandan, teaching professional in Clearwater for nearly 10 years, recently signed a two-year contract with the city and will continue as its head professional.
"This is an incredible facility and one we've talked about for 10 years," Anandan said.
"There's going to be a big increase in play here and, hopefully, force us to build even more courts. Then, we'll be in a position to host some big national events for juniors and seniors."
McMullen memberships are being sold, whichinclude six-day advanced registration, periodic newsletters, six guest passes per year and reduced participation rates for some events. Daily and annual memberships are available.
"We're really proud of the way this project came out," said Kevin Dunbar, Clearwater's Recreation and Parks Director. "I think McMullen will give a great boost to the tennis community and tennis in general.
"Our goal is to fill the courts and provide a wonderful tennis experience for those in the community," he said.
For more information about the McMullen Tennis Complex and its hours of operation, membership requirements and class schedules, call 669-1919.
MEET THE STF: The Suncoast Tennis Foundation will have its annual meeting tonight at 7 at the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg.
Area players and guests will learn about the partnership with the STF and District 12, meet local leaders and elect officers.
For more details, visit the STF website, www.suncoasttennis.com.
TEAMS AT NATIONALS: The Feather Sound Country Club 3.0 men defeated teams from Minnesota and New York but fell to Pennsylvania in last month's USA League Tennis National Championships in Tucson, Ariz.
Pennsylvania advanced to the final four playoffs and finished second behind champion Hawaii.The McMullen Tennis Complex 4.0 senior men returned from Tucson last month and its USA League Tennis Senior National Championships.
Despite a 3-0 win over Hawaii and a 2-1 victory against California, McMullen's 3-0 loss to Arizona prohibited Florida's championship squad from advancing.
Plagued by rain, matches were reduced to eight-game prosets and condensed into two days. Arizona captured the title. Florida's 4.0 senior women's team from Tallahassee was second to Illinois.
LITTLE MO: Three area players competed in the Little Mo National Championships in Atlanta last weekend. Morgan Frank won her first match in the 11-and-under 16-player draw, as did Alexandria Cercone in the 9s.
Third-seeded Morgan Basil, 8, finished third with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 victory in a playoff. Keilly Ulery, formerly of Oldsmar, was the runner-up in the division for 10-year-olds and received the sportsmanship award.
CHALLENGE: Players begin competition Friday at the Bardmoor Golf and Tennis Club in the eighth annual Mills/Redgrave Challenge.
Florida teams of three girls and three boys from divisions for players 18, 16 and 14 battle similar squads from the USTA Southern Section.
Area players include Bugsy Bauer, in the division for 14-year-olds, Kelly Nelson and Sukhwa Young, 16, and Alexandria Liles and R.J. Murray, 18.
FOR THE ANIMALS: Over 200 players participated in the largest Charity Tennis Tournament to benefit the Humane Society of North Pinellas, Inc., last month.
In its seventh year, the event at Royal Racquet Club raised $12,000 -- twice as much as in any other season. There was competition in men's, women's and mixed doubles.
Mixed doubles champions included Maureen and Ron Sternberg in the 6.5 division, Linda Stonikas and Scott Chambers, 7.5, Carol Levin and Dick Whissel, 8.5, and Colleen Singer and Dale Alford, 9.5.
Nancy Boyce and Jane Robinson won the women's open in straight sets, as did Susan Hobbs and Turtle Marshall in 4.0, Janet Loomis and Ruby Johnson in 3.5 and Kathy Lapp and Darlene Stephenson in 3.0.
It took a tie-breaker in the second set for Eric Watson and Larry Jackson to win the men's 4.0. Robert Foster and R.J. Braureker won in 3.5 with a 6-4, 6-3 decision, and Dean Taylor and Kevin Manning captured top honors in the open with a 6-4, 6-4 victory.
MOVING ON: A unanimous vote by the USTA Florida Section delegates at the 51st annual meeting in Tampa last month approved the relocation of the organization's office to Daytona Beach.
Daytona is building a $2-million complex that will include 24 lighted courts, a grandstand court with 1,000 permanent seats and a 6,000 square-foot structure that will house a pro shop, site office, locker room and a 3,500 square-foot office.
JUNIORS WIN: Area players captured five singles titles in last weekend's West Coast Junior Classic in Clearwater.
Lindsay Dvorak won the girls' 10 crown, Yanina Wickmayer the 14 championship, Benjamin Rufer the 18 title, Nikita Konkov the 16 crown, and Tyler Brown the 10 championship.
Joelle Good was a runner-up in the girls' division for 18-year-old players, as was Noah Silverburg in the boys' 10 class.