Growth continues in U.S. Tennis Association state adult leagues, and Pinellas plays an integral part in its increase.
Last year, the mixed doubles league increased by 83 percent, seniors 25 percent and the adult league 5 percent. Over 2,000 players participated in mixed play statewide as well as in senior competition, and almost 12,000 played the adult league.
This year in Pinellas, mixed competition is complete among eight teams; women's senior divisions have named winners and senior men are nearing completion. Adult-league play for 38 women's teams and 46 men's has begun.
Local winners now prepare to advance to state competition; mixed is April 18-20 in Palm Coast and seniors is May 16-18 in Pinellas County.
In women's senior competition, Innisbrook won the 3.5 on the play of captain Judy Murphy, Bonnie Neiman, Kathi Roberts, Midge Spaulding, Jean McKenzie, Barbara Raum, Anne Hammond, Jocie Doucette and Phyllis Baker-Gary. Innisbrook also advances a 4.5 team to the tournament, with Ria Graham as captain and players Connie Smith, Rudy McGeachan, Barbara Brutus, Hank Skoczen, Patty Brannon, Kay Clark, Gina Rogers and Marion Murch.
Treasure Island's 4.0 senior women's team was unbeaten in its division, with captain Judy Grim and players Carol Leven, Cini Malone, Sharon Carlile, Susan Hobbs, Kay Lockhart, Marge Scheidt, Darlene Rinterrowd, Pat Kelly and Clara Reynolds. Grim, Levin and Malone competed in the senior national championships last year.
St. Petersburg Tennis Center's 3.5 senior men's team captured its division with the help of captain Nick Karamessinis and players Fred DeJohn, Allwood Scott, Michele Antoine, Bud Steckman, Bob Allen, Charles Dorrell, Peter Spyers-Duran, Jim Schroeder, Howard Woodberry and Julio Ochoa.
Safety Harbor and the Belleview Mido are yet battling in the 4.5 division, as are McMullen and Shipwatch in the 4.0.
In the mixed league, Innisbrook won the 7.5 and McMullen was unchallenged in the 8.5.
Innisbrook players include couples Dale and Malcolm Slive, Maureen and Ron Sternberg, Barbara and Jim Raum and Debbie and Ed McGinley. Cheryl Cravener, Wendy Kall, Deborah Searce, Anne Marie DiToro, Reinhard Lauterbach and Tom Butler round out the team. Malcolm Slive is the captain of the 14-player team.
Don Moffitt, captain of the 8.5 mixed team, joins Carol Levin, Malone, Grim, Scott Ingram, Joe Neiman and John Canterbury on the McMullen-based team.
CERCONE AT BARDMOOR: Maria Cercone was named tennis director at the Bardmoor Golf and Tennis Club in Largo this month. Cercone, who has taught in the area the past 15 years, plans to provide strong general membership and junior programs at Bardmoor.
Cercone grew up in the Clearwater area, was a top Florida player in the 1970s and played No. 1 for the University of Pittsburgh 1974-79.
Last year, the U.S. Tennis Association and the U.S. Olympic Coaching Recognition Program Committee lauded Cercone's contributions to junior players with one of two Developmental Coach of the Year awards. "Our plan is to definitely serve the members," Cercone said. "I think you need both a strong general membership program and a junior program; and, there is a fine line between them. Our goal is 200 members."
For information about Bardmoor tennis, call 399-1000.
STEARNS TO SARASOTA: Long-time Pinellas teaching professional Billy Stearns has entered a partnership in Sarasota and will open the Billy Stearns Tennis Center June 1 at the former Sarasota Tennis and Fitness Club.
For information, contact Stearns at 866-3755.
JUNIORS DESIGNATED: Pinellas juniors Alexandra Liles and Marc Sawyer each placed third in their division in this month's state-sanctioned designated singles competition in Orlando.
Third-seed Liles won four matches in the girls 12 compass draw format, as did boys 12-and-under top seed Sawyer. In all, 64 players competed in the state's first designated event for 12-and-unders.
Seminole's Lori Grey, seeded second in the girls 16-and-unders, reached the final before falling to No. 1-seeded Varita Sureephong of Haines City 2-6, 6-1, 6-4. . . . Christa Grey lost her first match in the girls 18 and advanced to the backdraw final. . . . Girls 18 No. 1-seeded Janet Walker lost in the quarterfinals and then advanced to the feed-in consolation final. . . . Boys 16 third-seeded Michael Murray was a finalist in the feed-in consolation. . . . Fourth-seeded Danny McCain reached the boys 18 quarterfinal round before losing to Steven Capriati (professional Jennifer's brother) in three sets. McCain then reached the feed-in final.
COMING UP: The first Men's and Women's Doubles Tournament (round-robin pro set competition) is April 5-6 at the Golda Meir/Kent Jewish Center in Clearwater. Call 736-1494 or 796-5559. . . . The Pro Star Tennis Club in Clearwater hosts its first Juvenile Diabetes Foundation Tournament May 9-11 for men's and women's doubles teams. Call 581-4935.