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Super Seniors are Superstars at Section Championship

April 24, 2008 05:23 PM


Six teams advance to 2008 USTA Super Sr. National Championship

The 2008 USTA Florida Super Sr. Section Championship took place at the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach, April 18-20, drawing 362 players over the age of 60. A total of six superstar senior teams have advanced to the USTA Super Sr. National Invitational Championships, which will take place in April 2009 (location TBD).

Strong competition and lively team spirit was the name of the game during the weekend event, as 44 teams traveled from all over the state to vie for the title of Super Sr. Section Champions. The seniors were anything but senior as they ran around the courts for hours and made amazing shots one right after the other. Their zest and energy should be admired by all.


"The Super Senior Sectional Tournaments are the most fun; all of the players are 60 years old and older and represent exactly what the USTA is all about - playing tennis, making friends, having fun and challenging players of their own age in a competitive manner,” said Linda Kleitch, tournament director. “All of these teams are winners of their own areas and compete for the Section Championship, but win or lose, they go home winners."

In the 6.0 women’s division, defending Section Champions from Herons Glen Country Club in Ft. Myers, took home first place in the women’s 6.0 division. Led by team captain Gloria Nelson, the team went undefeated the entire tournament with a record of five team wins and zero losses. They overcame teams from Tallahassee, Naples, Ocala, Sarasota and Gainesville.

“This is a great tournament with good referees, tough teams and it is really organized,” Nelson said. “We enjoyed the event so much last year that it was an inspiration to come back and do it again this year. We’re all good friends and we put our heart into playing whether we win or lose.”

The women play this weekend in the 2007 Super Sr. National Championship in Mobile Ala., April 25-27. We wish them good luck!

With only six players on the Ft. Myers 6.0 men’s team competing in Daytona, every person had to play in each match. The “Fabulous Six” outplayed their competition from Gainesville and Naples, and won their division undefeated.

Led by team captain Sid Grossman, the men displayed great teamwork and sharp tennis skills to clinch first place. The team plays out of Ft. Myers Racquet Club and it is their first USTA Florida state win.

“It is very exciting to come up here and win up here,” said Grossman. “Florida has a lot of great tennis clubs and players so it is a great honor to win today.”

The Polk County Super Senior 7.0 team, captained by Wanda Crocker, won the tournament with a 3-1 record, losing their only match to Tampa, 1-2. A third set 10-point tiebreak win on Saturday by teammates Joanne Collier and Lea Simmons during their match against Tampa helped the team advance to the finals on Sunday.

Last year, the team was close to winning it all; this year they got it done. The team plays out of the Beerman Family Tennis Center in Lakeland and attributes their great team to a consistent level of play and ability to mix positions among themselves.

“I have awesome players,” said Crocker. “The team was nervous going into the finals, but we thought ‘Let’s just have fun and if we win, great!’”

Led by team captain Richard McLaughlin, the 7.0 Super Sr. men finished the weekend with five wins and zero losses over teams from Lee/Charlotte, Emerald Coast, Broward, Polk County and Naples. The team is new as of this year and plays out of Palencia. In the finals, St. Augustine defeated Naples 2-1.

The deciding match to determine the men’s 7.0 Super Sr. Champion was between Lawrence Oringel and Richard McLaughlin of St. Augustine and Joseph Spadaro and Edward Power of Naples. Splitting the first two sets, the match came down to a third set, 10-point tiebreak. Oringel and McLaughlin took the tiebreak, giving the St. Augustine team its first ever Section Championship title.

“This is our first time here and first time winning,” said McLaughlin, team captain. Looking ahead to Nationals, McLaughlin predicts, “We will do exactly what we did here – go out and do our best!”

Playing out of McMullen Tennis Center in Clearwater, the St. Pete/Clearwater women’s 8.0 team went undefeated the entire tournament with a record of five team wins and zero losses. They overcame teams from Tallahassee, Ocala, Sarasota, Jacksonville and Naples.

The women had to win their last match against Sarasota in order to advance to the 2008 USTA Super Sr. National Championship. After winning the No.1 doubles court and losing the No.2 doubles line, all pressure laid on the No.3 doubles team of Barbara Brutus and Deborah McCleery from St. Pete/Clearwater. Brutus and McCleery lost the first set 6-4 and were down in the second set before forcing a 7-point tiebreak and taking the set 7-6. Tied one set all, the women played a 10-point tiebreak for the third and final set. Like many close tiebreak scores in the past, Brutus and McCleery rallied ahead 11-9 to secure the Section Championship for McMullen.

“The entire match was tooth and nail,” said Hank Skoczen, team captain. “We had to win this match and it made it so much nicer to have a win today even though it could have gone either way.”


Closing out the tournament was Bradenton and Naples in the final match of the day. Led by team captain and Bradenton legend Bill King, the 8.0 men’s team has participated in many Section Championships, yet never brought home a state championship until now.

Playing out of El Conquistador in Bradenton, the men finished the weekend with wins against teams from Tampa (3-0), Lee/Charlotte (2-1) and Naples (2-1). Their only loss came to Pensacola (2-1), who King explained was a great team with wonderful sportsmanship.

The loss against Pensacola led to a three way flight tie between Tampa, Pensacola and Bradenton, all with two wins and one loss. Bradenton advanced to the finals due to USTA League Regulations which state that in the event of a tie, the tie shall first be broken by individual matches (winner of the most individual matches in the entire competition). Bradenton won six matches, as compared to Tampa and Pensacola who each won five.

The final two matches in the afternoon were decided by two third set, 10-point tiebreakers that finished within minutes of each other. The match that clinched the championship for Bradenton was between Bill King and Arnold Vance of Bradenton and Edward Larkin and William Walsh of Naples.

What seemed like an easy win ahead for Naples as they took the first set 6-1, soon changed as momentum shifted and King and Vance fought back to take the second set 6-2. Down twice in the tiebreak 3-0 and 4-1, King and Vance came back to win 10-5, giving the Bradenton Super Sr. men their first ever Section Championship title.

“Momentum is so important,” said a team member of Naples. “We lost momentum in the second set and it just shows how important momentum is in a match.”

“Since Nationals are not until 2009, we will take some time to rest,” King said. “We are excited as a team and we expect to come home with a National Championship title to represent Florida.”

Winners and finalists of the Super Sr. Section Champions were awarded trophies, and everyone who participated were provided with complimentary Gatorade and snacks throughout the weekend.

The USTA Florida leagues program appreciates everyone for their support and assistance in making this a tremendous event for our super seniors and looks forward to hosting their many upcoming events in 2008 at the Florida Tennis Center.

Additionally, special thanks go out to head official Ken Holloman and the rest of the officials for their keen eyes and assistance throughout the tournament.






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