The 2021 USTA Florida Sectional League Championship season started off with a bang over the weekend at the USTA National Campus, with five squads sweeping divisional wins for just two counties at the Adult 65 & Over Sectional Championships.
Marion claimed the women’s 6.0 and men’s 7.0 divisions, while Pinellas came out on top at the event and collected three titles overall – the women’s 7.0 and 8.0 as well as the men’s 8.0.
For Pinellas, this is the second year in a row the county has held the men’s 8.0 and the fourth consecutive year the county has taken the women’s 8.0. The women’s 8.0 squad (St. Petersburg Tennis Center, St. Petersburg) dominated the competition with a perfect 5-0, with 12 court victories and 25 sets won. Hillsborough County (River Hills Country Club, Valrico) was the runner-up with eight individual matchup wins and 19 sets earned, for a 3-2 record. On the men’s courts, Pinellas (McMullen Tennis Complex, Clearwater) and Duval County (Magnolia Point Golf & Country Club, Green Cove Springs) went head-to-head in the 8.0 divisional final after emerging untouched in flight play. Duval’s Michael Lege and Robert Williamson struck with a 7-5, 6-2 effort on court three, but the Pinellas victories at the hands of William Christensen and Albert Alhadeff on line two and Thor Moody and Roger Bensinger on court one delivered Pinellas the crown.
The women’s 7.0 title came down to the final clash between Pinellas (Tarpon Tennis Club, Tarpon Springs), the victor of Flight 1, and Marion (Citrus Hills Tennis Club, Hernando), the champion of Flight 2. All three courts were decided in straight sets, with Pinellas coming through at the first and third positions to secure the 2-1 decision.
Squads from Marion County (Glenview Champions Tennis Club, The Villages) and Collier County (Club at Longshore Lake, Naples) entered the battle for the men’s 7.0 division with identical 3-0 records, but it would be Marion triumphing two courts to one for the clinching result. They closed out the weekend with 10 court victories while dropping only two.
Despite boasting a 4-0 record over the competition in the women’s 6.0, Marion (Fort King Tennis Center, Ocala) did face some opposition in the contest. With 2-1 score lines ending every dual, runner-up Duval (Southside Tennis Complex, Jacksonville) wasn’t far behind, but it wasn’t enough to overthrow the champions.
The competing teams represented various clubs, parks, recreational departments and organizations, and finished at the top of their local leagues during the 2021 season to advance to the USTA Florida 65 & Over Sectional Championships.
65 & Over Women’s 6.0
Final: Marion County (Fort King Tennis Center, Ocala) finished ahead of Duval County (Southside Tennis Complex, Jacksonville) 4-0, 2-2 in round-robin play
Marion County Season Roster: Leslie Hagan (Captain), Patricia James, Donna Davis, Trish Mosby, Mary Stevens, Carmel Connor, Betsy Calder, Emily Speaker, Joan Matlock, Brenda Miller
65 & Over Women’s 7.0
Final: Pinellas County (Tarpon Tennis Club, Tarpon Springs) d. Marion County (Citrus Hills Tennis Club, Hernando) 2-1
Championship Match Results:
No. 1 Doubles: Jeannine Hodges/Barbara Nicoll (Pinellas) d. Anne Finnin/Judy Weber 6-0, 6-1
No. 2 Doubles: Tana Hubbard/Lynne Finman (Marion) d. Anne Meisterlin/Susan Lazarides 6-1, 6-3
No. 3 Doubles: Karen Cady/Joan Johnson (Pinellas) d. Gerianne Foster/Gail Cooper 6-1, 6-3
Pinellas County Season Roster: Ellen Hellmers (Captain), Joan Johnson, Debbie Ramker, Patricia Alfonso, Sandra Lamy, Susan Lazarides, Jeannine Hodges, Karen Cady, Anne Meisterlin, Barbara Nicoll
65 & Over Men’s 7.0
Final: Marion County (Glenview Champions Tennis Club, The Villages) finished ahead of Collier County (Club At Longshore Lake, Naples) 4-0, 3-1 in round-robin play
Marion County Season Roster: Michael James (Captain), Robert Anglace, Robert Kluemper, David Barnes, James Robertson, David O’Steen, Blake Gall, Tim Puckett, James VanEmburg, John Ulrich, Carlos Munoz, Dennis Stasiak
65 & Over Women’s 8.0
Final: Pinellas County (St. Petersburg Tennis Center, St. Petersburg) d. Hillsborough County (River Hills Country Club, Valrico) 5-0, 3-2 in round-robin play
Pinellas County Season Roster: Kathy Moll (Captain), Holly Charles, Clara Reynolds, Susan Hobbs, Susan Tarantino, Linda Miller, Frances Strazzulla, Debbie Dawson, Linda Riffe, Sandy Martin, Ann Worthington
65 & Over Men’s 8.0
Final: Pinellas County (McMullen Tennis Complex, Clearwater) d. Duval County (Magnolia Point Golf & Country Club, Green Cove Springs) 2-1
Championship Match Results:
No. 1 Doubles: Thor Moody/Roger Bensinger (Pinellas) d. James Meekins/Ronny Willis 5-7, 6-3, 1-0
No. 2 Doubles: William Christensen/Albert Alhadeff (Pinellas) d. Jack Raftery/Sanford Aldrich 6-2, 7-6
No. 3 Doubles: Michael Lege/Robert Williamson (Duval) d. Raymond Strazdas/John Leep 7-5, 6-2
Pinellas County Season Roster: Stephen Mullis (Captain), John Leep, Roger Bensinger, Ronald Thomas, Albert Alhadeff, Randy Sterns, Jim Kennerly, Raymond Strazdas, William Christensen, Thor Moody, Terry Reeb
2021 USTA FLORIDA LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP CUP STANDINGS
The USTA Florida League Championship Cup is awarded to the county with the most league sectionals titles during the 2021 season (standings through Apr. 19):
1. Pinellas County (3 titles) — 65&Over-W7.0/W8.0/M8.0
2. Marion County (2) — 65&Over-W6.0/M7.0
Note: County determined by location of team’s home club. Season-ending ties to be broken by teams’ 1st-4th place results at USTA League Nationals.
Next Sectionals: May 1-3, 55 & Over 6.0/8.0 Sectional Championships, USTA National Campus, Orlando.
Established in 1980, USTA League has grown from 13,000 participants in a few parts of the country in its first year to more than 904,000 players across the nation today, making it the world’s largest recreational tennis league. The league groups players by using six National Tennis Rating Program (NTRP) levels, ranging from 2.5 (entry) to 5.0 (advanced). USTA League is open to any USTA member 18 years of age or older.
For more information on USTA Florida Leagues go to www.USTAFlorida.com/leagues.