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Tough Women Prevail at Gulf Breeze National Events

April 21, 2009 10:32 AM

By: Scott Harrison

The USTA National Women's 40-50 Clay Court Championships and the USTA National Mother/Daughter Clay Court Championships were held March 31 - April 5 at The Club Family Sports Complex in Gulf Breeze, Fla.

USTA National Women's 40-50 Clay Court Championships

Vesna McKennaVesna McKenna of Hollywood upset top seeded Renata Marcinkowska of Rock Hill, S.C. 6-3, 6-3 to win the women's 40 singles title. Marcinkowska had won the tournament for three straight years before this. McKenna, a Miami-Dade fireman and paramedic, played terrific tennis all week and finished strong in the final.

Naples' Joanne Russell and her partner, Amy Alcini from Malibu, Calif., were runners-up in the women's 40 doubles.

Besides McKenna’s surprising upset, the women’s 50 doubles final produced an even more remarkable match. Pam Cooke from Alamo, Calif. and Debbie Croft from San Mateo, Calif. partnered together at the tournament and played both the women’s 40 and 50 doubles competitions. On Saturday, the duo could have played four main draw matches due to two days that were rained out earlier in the week. Cooke and Croft lost their 40's semifinal to eventual champions Alissa Finerman of New York, N.Y. and Erika Smith of Oakland, Calif., but won their 50's semifinal match against No. 2 seeds Carolyn Nichols of Lodi, Calif. and Chris Ramsower-Pearlstein of Walnut Creek, Calif.

In the final, Cooke and Croft played Diane Fishburne of Charleston, S.C. and Rita Rector of Anderson, S.C. Cooke and Croft took the first set 7-6(4) and were 2-all in the second when Croft took a very nasty fall and injured her left arm. After a medical timeout in which the aforementioned McKenna wrapped Croft’s arm, the doubles match continued on. Luckily, Croft is a righty; however she was still in immense pain and she finished the set, losing 5-7.

Debbie CroftSince the match was close, Croft decided to finish play. The remarkable team of Cooke and Croft won the third set 6-2 and the coveted gold ball. Immediately after the match, the women were driven to a nearby emergency room and Croft's injured arm was found to be fractured. Both women also received IV's for dehydration.

What an afternoon of tennis for these remarkably tough women! Click here for complete results.

USTA Mother-Daughter Championship

For the second year in a row, two Gulf Breeze teams faced each other in the finals of the USTA Mother-Daughter Championship. Allison Pfeifler and daughter, Jennifer, teamed to defeat Jean Lee and Krysta Edge in straight sets, winning 6-2, 6-3 to claim their second consecutive gold ball award.

All four players are close friends and incredible tennis players!  Click here for complete results.

*Picture 1: Vesna McKenna | Photo credit: Carolyn Nichols
*Picture 2: Debbie Croft continues to play with her fractured arm | Photo credit: Carolyn Nichols






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