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State competition heats up this week

A dozen area adult teams will join more than 120 others in state competition this week at three clubs in Pinellas County.

Fifty-two teams in the Super Seniors Doubles League for players at least 60 years old begin play in the USTA Florida Section state championship Thursday, and 82 more in the Seniors Doubles League for those at least 50 begin competition Friday.

Pasco County players will be among the 41 senior women's and 41 senior men's teams. Both 3.5 squads representing Westin Innisbrook qualified with first-place finishes at the local level.

"We are thrilled and especially happy we'll be playing locally," said Judy Murphy, captain of the Innisbrook team as well as coordinator of the local senior women's league. "It will be nice to have the home-court advantage."

Three years ago, Murphy, Josie Doucette, Anne Hammond and Phyllis Gary were on a team that won the state tournament and qualified for the national championship. Last year, Innisbrook was eliminated by a team from Naples, which is in Innisbrook's flight again this year, Murphy said.

"Naples ended up going on to nationals last year, and even after having to split up for this year, they will be difficult," said Murphy. "They always come tough, but I think we have more depth this year."

Debbie McGinley and Maureen Sternberg have been unbeaten all season at the No. 1 spot. Doucette and Hammond likely will play No. 2, although Doucette and Cheryl Cravener have played together and Cravener also has played with Joan Holland.

"We'll pretty much mix and match positions and partners except for No. 1," said Murphy. "We all play together so much and are in other leagues that we all mix really well. Primarily, we'll be focused on sending out the best teams for each match."

Rounding out the squad are Diane Galemmo, Bonny Boosales and Sue Luidens.

Innisbrook's first match is at 2:30 p.m. Friday at Royal Racquet Club against a team from Naples, followed by two matches Saturday and one Sunday. If among the top four teams in a field of 14, Innisbrook will advance to finals action Monday.

Innisbrook's 3.5 senior men's team is making its second appearance at the state tournament after advancing to the nationals four years ago.

"I think we have a pretty strong team," said Willie Coquelet, who was on the national-bound team in 1996. "At least we were strong enough to win locally, and we played some tough teams."

With Coquelet at the '96 nationals and on this year's team are Jim Smith, captain Joe Gari, Ed McGinley and Jim Utley. Other members are Dick Hough, Dick Lashley, Dick Willets and Skip Parker.

Innisbrook meets a team from Sarasota at 8 a.m. Friday at Countryside Country Club, followed by matches over the weekend with Jacksonville, Vero Beach and Bonita Springs.

Other area teams in the seniors state tournament are Feather Sound Country Club (3.0), Treasure Island Tennis and Yacht Club (4.0) and Royal Racquet Club (4.5) in the women's division, and McMullen Tennis Complex (4.0) and Safety Harbor Spa (4.5) in the men's. Super seniors teams, which begin competition Thursday at the St. Petersburg Tennis Center, include Timber Pines Tennis Club (3.0 men and women, 3.5 women), St. Petersburg Tennis Center (3.5 men) and Shipwatch Tennis Club (4.0 men).

USA ADULT LEAGUE: Innisbrook capped a nearly perfect season with a 4-1 win over the Hernando-Pasco travel team last weekend, finishing first among 16 teams in the 3.5 division of the USA Adult Tennis League. Innisbrook lost 3-2 to Countryside Country Club two weeks ago but concluded the nine-week season Saturday with wins from all three doubles positions and one of the two singles.

Winning were Anne Hammond in No. 2 singles, Debbie McGinley and Maureen Sternberg in No. 1 doubles, Cheryl Cravener and Josie Doucette in No. 2, and Sue Luidens and Bonny Boosales in No. 3. Diane Galemmo lost a three-set battle in No. 1 singles.

The four-team round-robin playoff begins June 3 with the winner qualifying for regional competition in July.

NATURE COAST LEAGUES: Mixed doubles team tennis on Monday evenings, rookie mixed doubles on Wednesday nights, women's doubles on Thursday mornings and men's and women's singles at flexible times are all available in the Nature Coast Tennis Leagues. Call tennis professional and league coordinator Judy Jeanette at (352) 799-8999.

Also, a meeting from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Friday at Delta Woods Park will kick off this summer's Junior USTA Team Tennis. Call Jeanette for more details.

MORE LEAGUE NEWS: The spring season of the K-Swiss Tennis League is winding down with its tournament scheduled at Cheval Country Club in Lutz next weekend.

The registration deadline for the K-Swiss summer season is May 30. Play runs from June 10 to Aug. 6 and includes singles for men and women, women's doubles and mixed. Call (727) 865-0615.

COMING UP: A juniors singles tournament, Memories in Clearwater, is this weekend at the McMullen Tennis Complex. Call tournament director Krishnan Anandan at (727) 669-1919 by today. The River Hills Doubles Championships are May 26-28 at the River Hills Country Club in River Hills. Call Kevin Scott in Valrico at (813) 653-3776. The Memorial Day Junior Classic is May 27-29 at Hidden Palms Racquet Club in Brandon. Call Jean Knowles at (813) 685-3956. The third designated junior singles competition is May 27-29 in the Delray Beach area. Draws are limited to 64 in the 18-and-under, 16s, 14s, 12s and 10s, and entry is based on standings the week of the selection process. Contact the state office at (954) 745-5004.