Jeff Winkler likes his game more now than when he was a junior player.
"I think I'm a stronger player now than even when I played in college," said the St. Petersburg lawyer. "As a match goes on, I get a good handle on how my opponent plays, and I can better anticipate his shots."
Winkler played on the tennis team one year at Central Michigan University and was ranked among the top five in Florida in the men's 30-and-over division. After taking time off, he returned to competition and is ranked 12th in the 40s.
"I'm really pleased to be competing at the level I am with the limited playing time," said Winkler, who moved to St. Petersburg in 1983. "I would like to continue to raise my level and improve my state and national rankings."
Winkler recently returned from international competition in Mexico at the Amigos Cup. He was one of 10 Americans competing in singles and doubles on red clay. Mexico won by a point.
"About four years ago I was invited to join the U.S. International Club," Winkler said. "There are only 450 members so I felt very privileged. Throughout the year, there are various IC tournaments _ playing in them has been fun."
Winkler is a 5.5 rated player and is the club champion at the Renaissance Vinoy. He also recently won grass court and clay court competitions at the Vinoy.
This month, Winkler and law partner Chuck Hall teamed to defend their open men's doubles division title in the second annual St. Jude Tennis Tournament, which is sponsored by Allstate Insurance Co. and raised nearly $10,000 for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
EASTER BOWL: Kelly McCain, who trains with her father, Dave, at the Gallauer-McCain International Tennis Academy, placed fifth among 64 competitors in the girls 16-and-under division in this month's 31st Easter Bowl Junior Championships in Palm Springs, Calif.
Lori Grey, trained by Maria Cercone at the Bardmoor Tennis Center in Largo, reached the round of 16 in the girls 18.
This week, both girls are competing at the No. 1 position for high school state championships. McCain is in Gainesville in the Class 3A tournament, and Grey is in Lakeland at the Class 5A competition.
BAUER TAKES THE FIFTH: Bugsy Bauer finished fifth for the second time in a 12-and-under designated singles tournament in Clearwater last week. Bauer reached the final in a 16-player compass-draw format and won four matches. Bauer trains at the Gallauer-McCain International Tennis Academy based at the Racquet Club.
PADL CONCLUDES: The 22-team Pinellas Area Doubles League concluded with a banquet last week and presented awards to two-time champion Royal Racquet Club II. The Racquet Club I team was third, Treasure Island Tennis and Yacht Club fifth, St. Petersburg Tennis Center ninth and the Vinoy 11th. Other teams competing were Racquet Club II, Feather Sound, Seminole Lake Racquet Club and Shipwatch.
FREE FOR ALL: TI Tennis presents a USA Tennis Free for All May 9 at the Treasure Island Golf, Tennis and Recreation Center. Activities begin at 9 a.m. and continue through noon. Clinics, demonstrations and match play will be available. Call the center at 360-6062 for details.
SENIOR TOUR: Jeff Davis of St. Petersburg was a doubles quarterfinalist with Greg Neuhart of Lake Worth in this month's Trigon Champions senior tournament in Richmond, Va. They were eliminated 6-1, 6-4 by Gene Mayer and Tim Wilkison.