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McMullen 4.0 Senior Men's Team Qualifies for Nationals

June 29, 2005 04:07 PM
excerpt from The St. Petersburg Times, June 9, 2005 - written by Nancy Morgan.

2005 McMullen senior champs.jpg

The depth of the McMullen 4.0 senior men's team helped outdistance the team from competitors in the USA Tennis Florida Senior Sectional Championships in Daytona Beach.

The squad of 10 won all five matches 3-0 and lost just four sets during the three-day competition to reach the national tournament Oct. 7-9 in Palm Springs, Calif.

It's the second state title this season for six players. In May, the 4.0 super senior men's team (60 and older) dominated on its way to a title. Double champs are Wendall Walker, John Beda, Ron Klieve, Ed Hamilton, John Rensch and Ron Massey.

"We definitely had the depth with four to five doubles teams and not much space between the best and the last team," said Massey of the senior squad. When we practiced among ourselves, we got some of our best competition."

"The key at nationals will be the hard court players and how we prepare. We've got to get the serve in, or the return of serve in, and then get to the net."

At sectionals, Massey and Hap Ellerby, Hamilton and Rensch and Beda and Walker won in straight sets against Ocala. Against Jacksonville, Massey and Eric Goldman in No. 1 and Walker and Jeff Persky in No. 3 won in third-set tiebreakers. Klieve and John Williams won in two sets in No. 2.

"What stood out to me was how balanced the teams were with no one really dominant," said former teaching pro Williams. "Almost all the matches were close. At nationals on the hard courts, timing will be a factor as well as the thinner air will make the balls shoot through the air faster. This team is committed to doing well, and we will prepare."

Beda teamed with Walker for four wins, three by straight sets.

"Depth definitely worked for us as a team, with points falling our way," Largo's Beda said. "All the teams were strong, but things came tgether for us at state.

"Wendall and I have been playing together for a while and we're understanding each other's play. I play the forehand and we try to take the net - that's the primary way to win points in doubles. At state, we played a good offense and controlled the net."

McMullen also beat Miami and collected a default from Vero Beach after a rain delay to reach the semifinal round against West Palm Beach. There, Massey and Ellerby in No. 1, Beda and Walker in No. 2 and Hamilton and Rensch in No. 3 all posted two-set wins to set up a state final with a wildcard team from Pensacola.

In the final against Pensacola, Hamilton and Rensch, Goldman and Massey and Beda and Walker won.

"Having been to a 4.0 senior national in 2002 with a pretty good team," team captain Walker said, "I believe this team is at least 25 percent stronger. I feel we have better than a 50-50 chance at being a contender for the national championship. The tricky part is we have to get the job done in flight competition and make the conversion to the hard courts. I'm excited about our chances and really looking forward to it."

Walker received a Sportsman Award from tournament director Chuck Collier of Mulberry. According to Collier, Walker permitted an opposing team captain to correct a name error on the scoresheet rather than be forced to play the incorrect player. USTA League rules do not allow the change, Collier said, and he appreciated Walker's willingness to accommodate.






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