High-level tennis was on display in the area this month from juniors in national tournaments, to men in Super Senior Grand Prix contests, to aspiring women professionals.
Unseeded Danielle Collins, 14, won six straight-set matches to claim the USTA National Open singles title in the girls 18-and-under division, held in Tampa. In the final, Collins upset the No. 1 seed 6-2, 6-2.
"When I went in the tournament, I hoped to win my first-round match," Collins said. "She was the No. 1 girl in the country in the 14s, and I hadn't seen her in a few years. Once I beat her, I felt confident and thought I could win it all."
No. 2 seed Julia Jones in girls 14 played past the competition in singles, clinching the national open title with a 6-4, 6-1 win over the No. 3 seed in the final. Jones then teamed with Caroline Dailey of Sarasota to win the doubles.
Last weekend's West Coast Super Senior Grand Prix at the St. Petersburg Tennis Center included players from a variety of states as they honed their game for this weekend's USTA National Category II Tournament at the St. Petersburg Country Club.
"I had to play well because all four of my matches were tough," said Tony Ruggiero, who won the men's 60 title. "This is my first year to be eligible for the 60s, so I was looking forward to this tournament and for it to help get me ready for the one this weekend."
Top-seed Ralph Howe said he struggled to a three-set victory in the 65 division.
"(Evert Johnson) was a former soccer player from Sweden and therefore was a lot fitter than me," Howe said. "I barely won the first set, and then he beat me in the second after we were tied 2-all. I totally changed my game in the third and forced myself to come in and chip."
The Sheriff Jim Coats fourth annual Clearwater Women's Open, a $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit, was held at the McMullen Tennis Complex over a two-week period and included singles and doubles competition for aspiring professional players.
Regina Kulikova, 19, of St. Petersburg, Russia, won Sunday's final, overcoming a reoccurring abdominal injury and stubborn opponent Yevhenila Savranska, 24, of Ukraine for her first USTA Pro Circuit championship of the year. Great Britain's Anna Fitzpatrick and Serbia's Ana Veselinovic won the doubles competition.
Ranked No. 161 in the world, Kulikova beat Savranska 6-4, 6-4 to collect $3,000 in prize money and 25 ranking points.
"This is a good start for me because (Savranska) was very tough and determined," Kulikova said. "I hadn't played her before, but I soon knew I had to concentrate and continue to attack."
CHARITY RESULTS: Nearly 160 players participated in the Mike Alstott Family Foundation Charity Tennis Tournament at the Treasure Island Tennis and Yacht Club.
Winners in the women's doubles competition included Allegra Campos and Sue Gutierrez (open), Diana Gabay and Tess Ross (4.5), Sue Hobbs and Ann Worthington (4.0), and Carol Blair and Jennifer Ramella (3.5). Men's winners included Jeff Chambers and Ed Jagger (open), Tony Ruggiero and Tom Grayson (4.5), Dan Beck and Peter Viggiano (4.0), and Don Selenis and Mony Rodon (3.5).
Mixed doubles competition winners included Carol Cotney and Albert Alhadeff (4.5), Kim Cherry and Todd Whittington (4.0), and Allison and John Gelestor (3.5).
COMING UP: Cardio tennis, accompanied by music played by Mark Mann, is 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday at Shipwatch Tennis Club. Cost is $5 per participant. Call 596-6862. … The Largo Mayor's tennis tournament is this weekend, featuring men's, women's and mixed doubles. Call the Southwest Complex, 518-3125, or Linda Kettell, 403-8588.