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By NANCY MORGAN
© St. Petersburg Times, published November 15, 2000
Tennis players love competition and the amenities that come with the challenge.
Such was the case at last weekend's eighth annual Frenchy's Gumbo Tennis Classic at McMullen Tennis Complex in Clearwater.
Nearly 300 entered the men's, women's and mixed doubles skill-level divisions to benefit the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Pinellas County.
"The turnout was one of the best we've had," said Donna McGill, director of community affairs for the charity.
"The competition looked good, and everyone got in lots of playing," she said.
The event made about $16,000, including nearly $3,000 from a silent auction.
Final matches were extended three sets, and some into the late evening.
"I think the competition gets tougher and tougher," said Susan Hobbs, who with Ann Worthington defended their 4.0 doubles title.
"We play very aggressively, and our opponents usually love to lob us."
Hobbs and Worthington lost the first set in the final 6-2 to Trish Mainard and Kathy Conroy but rebounded to win the next two sets.
"After the first set, we decided we just weren't hitting hard enough for our game," Worthington said.
"Sometimes, when you get into your opponent's game, you're not as successful. So, we started hitting out, taking balls in the air and driving through them."
The change in strategy worked, as the pair went on to win 2-6, 6-2, 6-2.
Others battling three sets to earn their division championship were Donna Weiss and Dale Alford in 4.5 mixed doubles and Kevin Manning and Glenn Kiesel in the men's 5.0.
Straight set final wins were earned by Jacki Simon and Irene Boechlein (3.0) and Maureen Sternberg and Debbie McGinley (3.5) in doubles, Jean and Ross Reed (3.0), Teresa Lawrence and Gary Rodriguez (3.5) and Diana Gabay and William Brown (4.0) in mixed doubles, Vlad Spiczka and Adam Saldana (3.5) and Bill Christensen and Steve Talner (4.5) in men's doubles.
ADULTS: A contingent of Pinellas players participated in this month's Fall Classic 2000 in Venice.
Men's 70-and-over top seed Bob Meyerdierks finished first, as did the 75 doubles duo of Bob Allen and Lou Lang and Ria Graham, 60, of New Port Richey.
Finalists included men's 60 top seed Will Roeper, Dave Krebs and Ed Hamilton in 60 doubles and Meyerdierks and Lyn Abbot in 70 doubles.
Mike Panayotti was a semifinalist in the division for 70-year-old players. Other semifinalists were Fred Hesse and Leo Poulin, 65 doubles, and Thea McDougal, 65.
Krebs advanced to the 60 singles quarterfinals, as did Fred Hesse, 65.
SOUTH PINELLAS LEAGUE: Today's playoff matches include Feather Sound at the St. Petersburg Tennis Center, the Vinoy at Treasure Island Rec and St. Petersburg Country Club A at Isla Del Sol.
Feather Sound has a one-point lead over the TI Rec for first place.
Final playoff matches are Nov. 29.
RACQUETTES: The Racquettes, based at the St. Petersburg Tennis Center, are offering free play to visiting players in Friday's round robin. It begins at 8:45 a.m.
The women's-only group, established in 1962, has a reserved court time every Friday morning. .
COMING UP: This weekend, the St. Petersburg Tennis Center plays host to the Pete Wolfberg 12th Annual Championships for junior singles competition.
Call the center, 893-7301, or tournament director Al Sarmiento, 360-2643. ... The St. Petersburg Country Club plays host to a National Tennis Rating Program clinic Nov. 29 at 7 p.m. Call 867-7105 to register.