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Champs challenge for fun and charity

Bragging rights will be on the line in the Suncoast Tennis Foundation's fifth annual Tournament of Champions set for Jan. 19-21 at Royal Racquet Club in Clearwater.

Not only does the competition serve as the battleground to determine the best doubles teams during the 2006 charity tournament season, but it provides an opportunity to support the STF, which strives to promote and develop tennis in Pinellas County, with special emphasis on youths.

Teams eligible to compete are winners, runnerups, semifinalists and consolation winners from charity events that benefitted the American Cancer Society, Arthritis Foundation, Humane Society of North Pinellas, Good Samaritan and Big Brothers-Big Sisters. Winners and runnerups from last year's Tournament of Champions also are eligible.

Valerie Schaefer, whose family has owned Royal Racquet Club since 1988, sees the STF, USTA Florida and national organization entwined in the same purpose of promoting tennis.

"I remember at a meeting quite a while back where we talked about needing something in the area to pull the tennis community together," Schaefer said. "I believe the STF Web site, especially, is achieving that. People who are here, who come here to visit or live here have benefitted from being able to find where to play and what's going on in the area. If this tournament helps to keep that going, that's certainly a plus for all of us involved in the tennis business."

New to the tournament is a consolation draw for all first-round losers, so everyone is guaranteed at least two matches. The entry fee is $45 for one event and $65 per person for two. Men's, women's and mixed doubles include 3.0, 3.5, 4.0, 4.5 and open levels.

Along with the competition are a draw party Jan. 19 and silent auction throughout the weekend.

"We have been able to facilitate giving over 350 refurbished racquets, largely due to the generosity of Advantage Yours Tennis in Clearwater, and thousands of used tennis balls to elementary, middle and high school programs, as well as some inner city youth groups," said Judy Foster, STF's executive director.

"We operate on about a $35,000 budget with 86 percent allocated to programs and services. This is our one opportunity to raise money to allow us to keep doing what we've implemented as well as to continue growing. I encourage all the eligible players to enter the tournament and for others to come out and watch what has developed into quite a competitive event."

Any players not aware of their eligibility, or who have not received their invitation, should contact Foster at 725-3681.

Last year, about 120 competed and Foster expects more this year. Deadline to enter is Jan. 16.

Individuals wishing to volunteer, to donate items for the silent auction or to sponsor the event should contact Foster or visit the STF Web site, www.ourtennis.net.

ANNUAL AFFAIR: Nearly 400 volunteers, the highest in USTA Florida's history, attended last weekend's 57th annual meeting in Amelia Island near Jacksonville.

Among the activities of the three-day weekend for Florida's governing body of tennis was the installation of officers and board of directors for the upcoming two-year term. Local volunteers on the board include Maria Cercone, Nancy Morgan, Mark Taylor and Phil Girardi.

Annual awards presented included recognizing Ruth Ann and Norm Ott for their achievement in coordinating local USTA leagues and Brent Boostrom for promoting College Campus Team Tennis at UCF. Morgan was inducted into the section's Hall of Fame.

CLUB CHAMPIONS: East Lake Woodlands recently named its 2006 club champions in singles and doubles.

Claiming singles honors were Jaye Brown in the women's 4.0, Kirsten Willis (3.5), Stacey Foster (3.0), Jason Horwitz (4.5), Daniel Nosek (4.0) and Stephen Mutschler (3.5).

In mixed doubles, winners were Cindy and Brian Sloyer in 3.0, Sandy and Dan DeLosh (3.5), Doris and Eric Goldman (4.0) and Karen Killen and Craig Hajdich (4.5).

Nancy Boyce and Donna Roberts won the women's 4.5 club title, as did Doris Goldman and Donna Monette (4.0), Holly Alm and Debbie Peirick (3.5) and Stacey Foster and Cindy Sloyer (3.0). Winning among the men were Charlie Abell and Jules Goldstein (4.0), Tom Johnson and Terry Midden (3.5) and John Hall and Clive Stewart (3.0).

NET SHOTS: In last weekend's Pre-Holiday Classic for juniors at the McMullen Tennis Complex, Danielle Collins (girls 18) and Julianne Gruber (16) defended their top seedings. Also claiming titles were Austin Powell (boys 16) and Dan Stefan (12).

Playing to the final were No.3 Agatha Ambrozy in the girls 14 and top seeds Mason Beiler in the boys 10 and Ricky Szymanski (14).

Kenneth Snyder won the boys 18 consolation.

- More than 100 competed in last weekend's Turkey Bowl Super Series at Seminole Lake Tennis Academy. Among the winners were No. 2 Julia Teytelbaum in the girls 14 singles and Alex Fisch and Andy Hersh in boys 16 doubles.

- In last month's USTA Intersectional Women's Team Championships in Austin, Texas, New Port Richey's Ria Graham won all four singles matches for the 65-and-over squad and was 2-2 in doubles. The 65 team was one win shy of advancing to the semifinal round.

The 55 team, including Wesley Chapel's Toni Novack, finished first, as did the 75. The 45 squad was fourth and the 35s were fifth.

COMING UP: Treasure Bay Golf and Tennis hosts its Treasure Bay Rookie event beginning Saturday. Juniors 18-and-under should call 360-6062 today. ...Seminole Lake Tennis Academy hosts its Christmas Classic for juniors this weekend. Call 394-1733 today. ...This weekend, the College Tennis Academy hosts its annual Tennis Exposure Camp for junior players ages 15-18 at USF. Call 1-800-446-2238 or go to www.collegetennis.com for more details.

News for this column may be faxed to Nancy Morgan, 445-4119; e-mailed to namorgan@tampabay.rr.com; or sent to 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756. Please include phone number.

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