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Seminole Lake gets another shot in nationals

Thursday, Seminole Lake Tennis Center sends its second straight 4.0 men's team to the USA Adult League National Championships.

Making their second trip are Scott Chambers, Dave Heeder and Brian Cooper. Red McGarry went last year as a non-playing captain, and this season he's a player-captain.

"I had tickets to this week's South Florida football game, the Bucs and the Devil Rays," McGarry said. "But I've given those up and am excited to go to the nationals in Tucson, Ariz. I would have much rather earned the chance to go by winning on the court, but either way, we're happy to go again."

Florida's USA Adult League state champions were chosen in an unusually unique manner this year. After three cancellations of the state tournament due to hurricanes Charley, Frances and Jeanne, the tennis association relied on an independent auditing firm in Daytona Beach to conduct a lottery last week to determine teams to represent Florida in next month's national championships. Each of the four regional champs that had registered for last weekend's contest were placed in the drawing for the state winner. Squads were randomly selected in the men's 2.5, 3.0, 3.5, 4.0, 4.5 and 5.0 divisions and the women's 2.5 to 4.5 classes.

Completing the national-bound Seminole team are Jeff Mars, Mike Hooper, Don Kirby, Ken McWilliams, Gary Lucke, Steve Baccich and Todd Legault. Seminole plays USTA section Pacific Northwest on Friday morning, followed by USTA Caribbean in the afternoon. Saturday is a match-up with USTA Southern California. The top four teams from among the 17 USTA sections have a playoff Sunday at 8 a.m., with the winners battling for the national title at 10.

"The decision on all of this came up so fast that we didn't have the time to plan like we would have liked," McGarry said. "I wish we would have a full day to get used to the hard courts there, the thin air and recover from jet lag. It does take some adjusting. We learned that last year when we went to nationals with an 18-0 team record and lost two straight matches before settling down to win one."

McGarry plans to use Hooper and Mars in singles for the first match, followed by Cooper and Hooper or Mars for the second match Friday. Competing on the hard courts should mean shorter points, McGarry said, and along with playing the 10-point tie-breaker for the third set, having two matches in a day is feasible. Baccich and Legault likely will lead off in doubles play, followed by Chambers and Heeder in No. 2. Cooper, Lucke or Kirby will round out the doubles, with McWilliams and McGarry in the wings.

"I'm one of those players that never really had a set doubles partner on the team, and it was when we got into the playoffs I made a stronger commitment to play," said Lucke, 43. "I'm really excited about going to nationals. I've been to regional playoffs before."

Lucke is looking forward to competing on the hard courts since that surface favors his power game. "I grew up on the hard courts in Ohio, so I feel perfectly at home on them," he said. "I have a big serve and play a more aggressive game with less steadiness than others, so I need that partner who is more consistent."

Results should be available on www.usta.com.

MORE LEAGUE NEWS: The other area teams scheduled to compete in last weekend's state tournament were McMullen 3.0 and the Racquet Club of St. Petersburg 3.5 men. McMullen was third in its drawing, and the Racquet Club second. The Tampa 4.5 women's squad, including St. Petersburg's Joan Simmons, was chosen to compete in the nationals, Oct. 15-17 in Tucson.

+ A meeting for Senior Doubles League team captains is scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 14 at Countryside Country Club in Clearwater. For information on the women's division for 50-plus players, call Judy Murphy, 815-9618. For men's information, call David Wisotsky, 938-7902.

+ Plans are under way to form a men's 4.0 super senior division for 60-plus players. Competition will start in January. Call Wisotsky if interested. Carol Levin, 797-8416, is the coordinator for the women.

NET SHOTS: Kelly McCain, formerly of St. Petersburg, reached the final in the $25,000 Pro Circuit Tournament in Ashland, Ky. McCain played to the semifinal round in doubles with Julie Ditty, defeating Lutz's Stacia Fonseca and partner Arpi Kojian 6-2, 6-3. McCain, a two-time All-American at Duke University, has a No. 131 pro ranking.

+ Nathan Crist won the boys 14-and-under consolation final in the Train Smart Tennis Rookie A in Tampa. Vannessa Crist was second in the girls 14 round robin.

PLAY FOR CHARITY: The Raymond James Pro/Am Tournament is Oct. 23-24 at Treasure Island Tennis and Yacht Club. The charity event benefits All Children's Hospital. Contact Eric Branson, 551-5280, or Darlene Grayson, 892-4688, for information on sponsorships. Call club tennis director Scott Smith, 367-5479, for playing spots.

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