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Three teams earn a shot at state title

Nine local teams battled heat and stiff competition in pursuit of West Regional championships last weekend.

Three squads survived, advancing to next month's USA League Tennis State Tournament.

The other six clubs were competitive despite not earning a berth in the Aug. 9-11 state event in Daytona Beach.

Winning were the women's 4.0 team from Phil Green Tennis Academy in Safety Harbor, McMullen Tennis Center's 4.5 women and PGTA's 5.0 men.

State winners qualify for the national championships.

"We squeaked by, even though our team record was 4-0," PGTA captain Marlene Flament said. "The competition was very close throughout the weekend, and we feel fortunate to have gotten out of the regional."

PGTA first played Punta Gorda, scoring a 3-2 win on the play of Marion Murch and Anne Pulley in No. 1 doubles and Ria Graham and Carol Cotney. Sharon Carlile and May Laraya won the deciding match 10-8 in a third-set tie-breaker.

Against Sarasota, Carlile and Laraya recorded their second 10-8 third-set tie-breaker.

In a match with Naples, PGTA avoided another tie-breaker by taking all five positions in straight sets.

Maria Teixeira and Flament won in No. 1 and No. 2 singles, respectively, and the doubles teams of Murch and Pulley, Graham and Cotney and Carlile and Laraya collected three points for a 5-0 victory.

"Our final match was with Tampa, and they were still in contention," Flament said.

"We knew we had to beat them or go to the tie-break and count individual wins," she said. "It was too close for that, so we knew we had to just beat them outright."

Teixeira won the No. 2 singles match in straight sets, then Graham and Cotney logged a two-set victory in No. 3 doubles.

Carlile and Laraya split sets at No. 1 before winning the third-set tie-breaker 11-9. Murch and Pulley split and won a 13-11 third-set tie-breaker at No. 2.

Flament produced another third-set tie-break decision in No. 1 singles.

Taking the minimum eight players, McMullen's 4.5 squad defeated Fort Myers, Naples, Tampa and Sarasota.

"We all worked together through the weekend," captain Anh Thu Burks said. "Taking just the eight players, we didn't really know who would play where or with whom. Competition was close, but we came out on top."

McMullen's round-robin action began with a 5-0 victory over Fort Myers. Against Naples, Burks and Kim Cashman won the deciding match in No. 1 doubles, 2-6, 6-3, (10-6).

Burks and Cashman were successful against Tampa, as were the other doubles units of Stephanie Wager and Jane Robinson and Linda Bacon and Liz Leigh.

Rachel Sanchez won at No. 2 singles to cap a 4-1 McMullen victory.

McMullen's final match was with Sarasota, which was 3-0 overall. A 4-1 decision clinched the championship for McMullen.

A losing score of 2-1 to Naples and Sarasota was overturned in favor of the PGTA 5.0 men when a player from each of the teams was disqualified by officials for being out of level.

A 2-1 win over Tampa secured the title.

"John Miller and Terry O'Grady shared the singles position for us," Phil Green Tennis Academy captain Bob DeFranco said. "Raphael Muzquiz and Scott Deutsch played tremendous in doubles, and Mark Wagner and John finished strong for us.

"We finished third at state last year, so we're looking forward to another try there," DeFranco said. "We feel pretty confident about our chances."

With a 3-1 record, the McMullen 4.5 men's club placed second to Tampa (4-0).

Other regional winners included Tampa, in the men's 3.0 and 3.5 and women's 3.0 divisions; Naples, 3.5 women and 4.0 men; and Marco Island, 2.5 women.

JUNIORS: Morgan Basil, Alexandra Cercone, William Dixon, Chris Gupta and Austin Krajicek are among the players in this week's USTA Zone Team Championships in Nashville, Tenn.

Representing Florida in the 12-and-under division, squads of 20 girls and 20 boys are competing with teams from the Southern, Midwest, Caribbean and Mid-Atlantic sections.

The event is comprised of singles, doubles and mixed doubles. Maria Cercone and Kevin Quay are the coaches.

+ Among the players in this week's USTA Zone Team Championships for the 16 class are Monica Sly and Stephen Segura.

The event is being played at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C.

NET SHOTS: Kara Kucin scored a straight-set victory in the girls 10-and-under final of the state-sanctioned Hot, Hot Juniors Tournament at East Lake Woodlands last weekend.

Philip Barlow captured the 16 singles title with a 7-5, 6-2 decision.

Consolation winners included Tara Vafadari (14), Anastasiya Sokolova (18), Brian Smith (12), Emily Dvorak (10) and her brother, Robert (10).

+ In this month's USTA Zone competition for juniors 14-and-under, Christina Liles was on the girls first-place team and Nicholas Berning was a member of the winning boys squad.

+ Ariana Zayac was a runner-up in the Summer Junior Classic at Royal Racquet Club this month.

Katie Ossenmacher won the girls 12 consolation bracket, and Thomas Holdstein was the boys 12 consolation finalist.

+ Kucin took the girls 10 championship and Barlow the boys 14 crown in the July Spectacular Super Series at Seminole Lake Tennis Center.

Kucin won her final 6-0, 6-1. Barlow, the top seed in his division, posted a 6-0, 6-0 victory. Second-seeded Segura rallied from a first-set loss to capture the 16 title, 4-6, 6-2, 6-1.

COMING UP: The Bardmoor Rookie, a tournament for junior singles players, begins Friday at Bardmoor Golf and Tennis Club.

For information, call 391-2205.

+ The Summer Classic Too, for juniors singles competitors, is this weekend at Phil Green Tennis Academy in Safety Harbor.

For information, call 724-7729.

+ To enter this weekend's Adult Classic, call the Temple Terrace Recreation Department, (813) 989-7178.

Competition includes age-division singles.