Five local adult teams open competition Friday in Orlando in the USTA Adult League State Championships.
Of the five, only two _ Bardmoor Golf and Tennis Club's 4.0 men's team and the Racquet Club of St. Petersburg's 3.5 men's team _ battled past regional challengers last month. Two others _ Safety Harbor Spa's 5.0 women's team and Feather Sound Country Club's 3.0 men's squad _ won their district competition and faced no regional opponents. The fifth team, a men's 5.5 squad based at Isla Del Sol Country Club, entered the state tournament last month with no local challengers. Last year, it was this 5.5 men's team that placed second in national competition.
"It'll be tough this year," said Ed Jagger, captain of the 5.5 squad. "The other teams know what to expect and we'll have some stiff competition."
Jagger and his teammates, mostly former college and satellite-level players now in their mid- to late 30s, face two teams from the Miami area and one from Fort Myers in a round-robin format. Joining Jagger will be Hans Gallauer, Jeff Winkler, John Block, Dave Anderson, John Kunnen and Neal Tourdo. Jeff Davis and Scott Zaccaria will be available for national play if needed.
Uncertainty surrounds the Safety Harbor women's 5.0 team. With just five players total and only four available for Friday's two matches, acting team captain Nancy Boyce Deeb is concerned with having to default one of the three positions each time.
"We've got Stephanie Wager who plays most of our singles and then Sue Gutierez, Vicki Graber and myself for doubles," said Deeb. "Margaret Bowles will join us on Saturday."
Safety Harbor meets Fort Myers and Orlando on Friday and Pensacola on Saturday. The top team among these four meets the top team from another set of four for the championship Sunday.
The men's 3.0 team from Feather Sound Country Club competed at the state tournament last year and is more confident going into this weekend's competition.
"Since the district finished and we didn't have to compete in either playoffs or regionals, we've been practicing regularly," said Jess Chappell, Feather Sound's captain. "We have a lot of depth, players with young legs as well as battle-hardy veterans."
Mike Longino, Peter Hinkle and Bob Dilonardo will share the two singles positions, while the teams of Lon Caffee and Bob Hicks, Greg Miller and Dave Smith, Chappell and Roger Rogers, Tom Schultz and Jack Keegan, Dan Diloreto and Jon Byrne and George Ditzel and Tom Riley will fill the three doubles positions.
"Our doubles strategy is to field young legs with veteran players and to field fresh players each match," said Chappell. "We have strong singles players and overall feel pretty confident about our chances."
Feather Sound meets Miami and Naples on Friday and Jacksonville on Saturday.
Bardmoor's 4.0 men's team includes captain Dan Callahan, Gene Crouse, John Beda, Mike Collins, Doug Godinho, Jeff Sprague, Richard Farci, Bill Simmers, Don Kirby, Tom Byrd, Brad Yerger, Tim Kahle and Matt Fox. Bardmoor first plays Palm City, then Pensacola and Miami.
The Racquet Club of St. Petersburg meets Daytona Beach on Friday, followed by Ocala and Broward. Playing for the 3.5 squad are captain Bob Dickerson, John McQuillen, Scott Stewart, Scott Johnston, Mike Williams, Jack Weldon, Earl Gehant, Jeff Doty, Neil Voss, Vaughn Haight, Ray Cianci, Steve Uebel, Bob Wahl and George Ethan Ray.
Winners from this weekend's competition advance to the national championships.
JUNIORS AT NATIONALS: This week, local players are competing in USTA junior national championships at sites around the United States. Reinaldo Valor, Michael Murray, Kyle Nelson and Aleksey Bubis in the boys 18-and-under division and R.J. Murray in the boys 16s are in Kalamazoo, Mich., at the historic Stowe Stadium at Kalamazoo College. Heading into Wednesday's matches, Bubis had won four matches to advance to the round of 16 where just four other unseeded players are among the competitors. Murray lost his second match in the main draw but has played to the round of 32 in the feed-in division.
Lori Grey, Nicole Cercone and Kelly McCain are in the girls 18s in San Jose, Calif. Kelly Nelson is in San Diego, competing among a 192-player draw in the girls 16s. Patrick Gleason and Ryan Buchanan are in San Antonio, Texas, in the boys 14s.
Also this week is the USTA Clay Court National Championships for the 12s. George Navas is in Greensboro, N.C., competing among 128 players in a modified compass draw format.
Last month in the USTA Clay Court National Championships, Alexandria Liles reached the girls 14s quarterfinals in singles and was a finalist in doubles. Bubis and Valor advanced to the round of 16 in the boys 18s while Murray reached the round of 32. Bubis and Brandon Wagner of Tampa also advanced to the round of 16 in doubles.
Marc Sawyer and Fred Johnson teamed to win their first national doubles title in the Midwest Open Championships held last month near Chicago. They defeated a team from Ohio in straight sets in the boys 14s final.
Bryan Lauer earned a gold ball for his 16s singles title in the Texas Open Championships held last month in Houston. Lauer, seeded fourth in the 64-player draw, won four matches to reach the final against Adam Adler of Pembroke Pines and won 6-2, 6-0.
INTERSECTIONAL RESULTS: Florida's girls 18s team finished second to Southern California in this month's USTA Intersectional Team Championships held in San Rafael, Calif. Lori Grey, a graduate of Seminole High and upcoming freshman at the University of Georgia, played the No. 2 position on the six-player team. Florida's boys 18s team was third and the boys 16s team was first.
ZONAL UPDATE: Ryan Buchanan was a member of the five-player Florida team that was a finalist in the USTA Zone Team Championships for the boys 14s. Florida competed among teams from the Pacific Northwest, Southern California and Texas USTA sections.
LITTLE MO CHAMPS: Four of the 31 eligible juniors from the Florida Sectional Little Mo Tennis Tournament held at East Lake Woodlands Country Club this spring traveled to Alpharetta, Ga., for this month's regional competition. They were Morgan Basil (8-and-under), Morgan Frank (10-and-under), Linda Yang (11-and-under) and Creighton Blanchard (9-and-under). Basil advanced to the Little Mo Nationals scheduled Oct. 22-25 in San Diego.
YOUTH TEAM TENNIS: Nine Pinellas teams participated in the USA Youth Team Tennis State Championships last month in Lakeland. The East Lake Eliminators 18s were first, the Treasure Island 12s and the North Pinellas 1402 teams were runners-up, and the Westlake Warriors placed third. In all, 100 teams competed in the three-day annual event.
Playing for East Lake were Amy Radel, Rachel Epstein, Carla Wrassmann, Huldah Dayton, Nick Venezelos, Danny Nichols, Jonathan Tharin and Justin Szeremeta. Diane Epstein was the team coach. The North Pinellas 1402 team, coached by Nancy Klibanoff, included Jackie Roether, Kristy Klibanoff, Danielle Epsteinb, Jared Mannen, Tim Lawrence and Matt Klibanoff.
Also, the North Pinellas 1402 team was presented the Sportsmanship Award.
East Lake, Treasure Island and North Pinellas are invited to the second annual Georgia/Florida Team Challenge scheduled Oct. 2-3 in Jacksonville.