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K-Swiss Fall League crowns its champions

Last month's rain-postponed playoffs for the K-Swiss Fall League were completed this month with champions named in nine women's divisions and 10 men's.

Singles winners in women's competition included Palm Harbor's Cindy Swartz (3.5-minus division) and St. Petersburg's Anne Anderson (4.0-minus). Dunedin's John Paulette won 4.0-minus and St. Petersburg's Michael Halisky 6.0 on the men's side.

Swartz has advanced to the playoffs each of the three seasons she's played, and her three-set final match with Tampa's Stephanie Lord proved the most nerve-wracking.

"I've been playing tennis about 12 years and never stopped once I started," Swartz said. "I started playing in the league in the 3.5-minus division. I won the regular season, but the playoffs made me nervous, especially the final.

"In the second set, it was all mental and I was able to keep it together," she said. "I'm basically a baseliner, but I've been working on improving my net game."

Swartz teaches 3-5-year-olds tennis at Lansbrook YMCA. That, she says, helps her relax. Practicing footwork with Lansbrook teaching professional Jayne Belansky also has helped her game.

Swartz won her final 3-6, 6-1, 6-4.

It was Paulette's third season, having started in 3.0. An 8-2 regular-season record in 4.0-minus in the fall advanced him to the playoffs.

"All the matches were good and very competitive," Paulette said. "None of my friends play tennis, so the K-Swiss gave me a good opportunity to play.

"I try to be consistent and play smart. I have a pretty good first serve and volley. That, along with my athletic ability _ having played a lot of other sports _ helps me with my game."

In his championship, Paulette beat Tampa's Patrick Whittlesey 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Anderson captured her title with a 6-1, 6-2 victory, and Halisky defeated St. Petersburg's Greg Montesanti 6-4, 6-3.

Finishing second among the women were Safety Harbor's Dori Regulski-Mitchen (3.5), Palm Harbor's Sharon Dehnel (4.0) and Dunedin's Andrea Bolender (4.5).

"I didn't take up tennis until I was an adult, and I instantly got tennis fever," Bolender said. "Tennis started out as a perfect outlet for exercise. Now, I like the way it brings out my competitive spirit as an adult amateur."

Bolender and her family moved from Atlanta to Dunedin in August. She received a No. 1 Georgia ranking at the 4.0 NTRP skill level.

"I played a lot of tournaments in Georgia and supported tennis in whatever area I lived," Bolender said. "I hit stronger groundstrokes than most women. Along with the aggressive groundstrokes, I have good mobility around the court."

Joining Montesanti as a men's division runner-up were Jason Schlauch of Largo (3.0), Ted Barrett, Dunedin (3.5-minus); and St. Petersburg's Brett Jones (4.5-minus) and Kurt Long (5.5).

Registration for the spring league continues through Wednesday. Season action begins the week of Feb. 14, with semifinal and final playoffs scheduled for May 8-9. For information or to register, call (727) 865-0615.

JUNIOR NOTES: Local clubs hosted state-sanctioned tournaments last weekend. Inclement weather prohibited the completion of most events. In the girls 14-and-under play at Bardmoor Golf and Tennis Club, No. 7 Lindsay Dvorak reached the quarterfinal round and Alexandra Cercone the 16. In boys 12 competition in Clearwater, No. 16 Garrett Betsarakis advanced to the quarters. Morgan Frank (No. 9) reached the round of 16 in girls 16 in Lakeland. Other local seeded players included Danielle Collins (No. 1) in girls 10, Nicholas Berning (No. 5), boys 16; and Joel Samaha (No. 2), 14.

STF CORNER: The Suncoast Tennis Foundation invites players to visit its website, Area club directors may become administrators at no cost and post information on the site. An interactive calendar is available, reaching more than 1,500 U.S. Tennis Association members. The STF is playing host to the Rookie Challenger Series for junior players, with the first event Feb. 7 at Treasure Bay. Call Phil Girardi, 360-6062.

SENIOR DOUBLES: In women's competition, 3.5 defending champion Weston Innisbrook Resort has compiled a 6-0 record in the 11-team division. Treasure Island Tennis and Yacht Club (5-1) is second. Its only loss is to Innisbrook. Innisbrook's sixth win was a 3-0 decision over East Lake Woodlands on the play of Maureen Sternberg and Dale Slive (No. 1), Anne Hammond and Nancy Kraemer (No. 2) and Sue Luidens and Kathryn Fitzpatrick (No. 3). Shipwatch took the lead in women's 4.0 with a 2-1 victory over Bardmoor last weekend. Betty Johnson and Gail Pierce scored a win at No. 2 for Shipwatch, as did Wendy Clark and Victoria Tuller at No. 3. Bardmoor's point came from Joy Ackerman and Nancy Harper (No. 1).

+ Seminole Lake Tennis Center's 4.0 South men's team raised its record to 4-1 with a 2-1 victory over Renaissance Vinoy on the play of Larry Daum and Scott Chambers (No. 1) and Kahle and Andris Cakarnis (No. 3.) David Pitt and Scott Stewart scored Vinoy's point at No. 2. McMullen is 4-0 in 4.0 North, and the club's 4.5 squad is in a tie with Phil Green Tennis Academy and St. Petersburg Tennis Center. The PGTA 3.5 North men, with Joe Gari as captain, beat Innisbrook 3-0 to raise its mark to 4-0 in the five-team division.

MIXED DOUBLES: Senior leagues began this month for three teams in the 7.0 division, five in 8.0 and two in 9.0. Local winners advance to the state tournament in the spring. In 7.0, Bardmoor Golf and Tennis Club won its opening match 3-0 over Royal Racquet Club. Liz Dunlop and Gerry Miller (No. 1) and Jo-Ann and Gary Westafer (No. 3) won in straight sets. Erika Boardman and Bob Simister won at No. 2 in a third-set tie-breaker. Shipwatch Tennis Club created a tie with Bardmoor and Royal Racquet Club in 8.0 after Shipwatch beat East Lake Woodlands 2-1. Winning for Shipwatch were Mary Jane Evertz and Les Spang (No. 1) and Laura Rustin and Tim Kahle (No. 3). In 9.0, the Racquet Club and Phil Green Tennis Academy have traded a win and loss to each other and play four more times for thetitle.

COMING UP: The Brandon Swim and Tennis Championships for junior singles players begin Jan. 30 at Brandon Swim and Tennis Club. Call director Pete Stecher, (813) 689-0908, before Tuesday's deadline. Train Smart Tennis Rookie I is scheduled for Jan. 31-Feb. 1 in Tampa for junior singles and doubles players. Call Alan Williams, (813) 610-7301, by Wednesday. The Adult Winter NTRP is Feb. 6-8 at East Lake Woodlands. Men's and women's singles and doubles and mixed doubles are available. Call Rick Workman, 785-2212, by Feb. 3.

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