By Carolyn Nichols
Home court advantage was more evident in the individual world championships last week than it has been in the team championships the week before (though the USA medaled in eight of the ten cups contested). Americans took away seven singles, eight doubles and three mixed doubles titles in San Diego, and had many bronze and silver medalists too!
Kelly Wilson, playing in her first senior world championships, and seeded 7th, reached the final of the 35 singles. She had a long, physical battle in the semis over Ana Salas-Lozano (64 67 76 (5). Salas-Lozano was the defending world champion in this division. In the final she took on another Spaniard, Noela Perez Penate, and fell 64 63 in another physical match (long rallies, long games). Perez-Penate beat #2 seeded Patricia Zerdan, USA, by the identical score in the semis.
Jennifer Dawson, from nearby Carlsbad, CA, also playing in her first individual world championship, and seeded a lowly 8th, beat six-time world champion Klaarjte Van Baarle of Belgium 634 63 in the final after beating the 2nd seed, Lesley O’Halloran of Ireland in the semis 61 62. Her only hiccup came in the first round where she took out Manola Murillo of Chile (formerly Manola Colter; she lives in the USA) in three sets. Dawson outrallied Van Baarle in the final, and ran beautifully. Van Baarle commented that “Dawson must train for hours each day, and that Dawson deserved the win, because she played very well.”
In the 50s, it was an all-American final, between Ros Fairbank Nideffer, the 3rd seed, and Fran Chandler, the 4th seed. Nideffer was the more aggressive player, rallying with Chandler till an opportunity to go forward arrived, then pressuring Chandler’s backhand to come up with a pass. Nideffer won 63 75. Tracy Houk, USA took out the top seed in a four hour match in the round of 16.
Diane (formerly Fishburne) Barker dominated the 55s, losing only 9 games in five matches to win her 5th world singles title. She beat Carolyn Nichols, USA 63 61 in the semis and #2 seeded Patricia Medrado, a multiple world singles champion, in the final. Susan Wright, USA lost a close two-setter to Medrado in the other semi.
Jeff Tarango held on to his temper and patience in a grueling final in the 40s. He beat Marcus Hilpert of the Netherlands 63 36 75 to win his first senior world championship. Tarango led 52 in the final set before Hilpert started blasting the balls and landing them in. Tarango kept the ball deep at the end causing Hilpert to miss enough to capture the final two games.
Jeff Greenwald, seeded 5th, won his second world title 11 years after winning his first one, beating fellow American, Carl Clark (who was unseeded) in the final by a deceptively decisive 61 64 score. Clark took out Martin Barba, USA in three sets, and beat 2011 Gold Slam champion Mario Tabares 75 61 early in the tournament.
Val Wilder won his 4th individual title in San Diego, and it was definitely the closest match he ever had in winning a world title. He beat his doubles partner, Mike Fedderly, USA 76 in the third. Fedderly had two match points on Wilder’s serve at 5-6 and Wilder won them both with his aggressive, forward play. The entire match was punch (Wilder) and counterpunch (Fedderly) and was very long, partly due to their leisurely pace between points. Wilder had to go three sets in the semis too, to beat Mike Tammen, USA.
Mark Vines dominated the men’s 55 division, winning the final 62 61 and dropping only eight games in winning seven matches, including a 60 60 win in the semis.
Cammy MacGregor/Debbie Spence Nasim won the 35 doubles over Rhona Kaczmarczyk/Molly Carter, USA 61 61.
Debbie Higa and Jami Jones won an all-American final over the sister in pink pair of Jennifer Lyons/Julie Shapiro. The final was a great match, the rallies were long and intense under the lights on court 8. The final score was 64 76. The same teams played the final of the Babolat only a few weeks ago with the Lyons/Shapiro pairing coming out on top that time. Both teams were unseeded. Higa/Jones had an even closer match in the semis, beating another San Diego team, Jennifer Rens-Keller/Wendy Carragher; they rallied from 2-5 down in the final set to win it 76.
Erika Smith/Alissa Finerman, seeded #1, upheld their seeding, beating the #2 seeded Gretchen Magers/Nideffer 64 62 in the final. Erika brings the power and Alissa the touch and speed; the combination creates a great doubles team, and Magers/Nideffer had no answers to their play on Saturday.
The American medalists in the 50 doubles were Tracy Houk/Judy Newman. They reached the semis before they lost to eventual winners Leanne Swaysland/Ros Balodis of Australia.
Wright/Kathy May Fritz dominated the women’s 55 doubles, beating 2010 finalists, Mary Ginnard/Tina Karwasky 61 61 in the final. Ginnard/Karwasky had to go to a match tiebreak in the semis to overcome Joanne Russell and her sister Lynn Taylor. Ann Stanley, USA, teamed with Lynn Mortimer, Australia to reach the semis before losing to Wright/Fritz.
Rick Leach/Mickey Maule, USA, seeded #2, won the men’s 40 doubles in a quality match against the top seeds, Ellis Ferreira/Roger/Mills, USA 61 57 75. James Dao/Derek Brooks, USA were bronze medalists.
In the men’s 45s, all eight medalists were from the USA. Bruce Man Son Hing/John Letts, seeded 8, beat Brian Cory/Art Hernadez, the 7th seeds 62 64 in the final, a reverse of the result at the 45 nationals. Letts/Man Son Hing beat Steve Willoughby/Ed Wagner 76 60 in one semi. Cory/Hernandez won matches that came down to the wire in the quarters and semis (76 67 75 in the semis over Oren Motevassel/Vincent Horcasitas).
Wilder one of only three US players to win two gold medals at the individual world championships (the others were Nasim and Leach). He teamed with Fedderly to win the 50 doubles over the US pairing of Ross Hessler/Jon Tyrell 36 75 63. This was played after their long singles match and as a result was the final match of the tournament. Ken White, USA/Paul Smith, NZ and Tammen/Eric Styrmoe were the bronze medalists.
The final of the 55 men’s doubles was played before a large and vociferous crowd at the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club. Bill Kellogg/Holladay from the LJBTC, unseeded, took on Danny Waldman/Ross Persons, USA, the #7 seeds and defending world 50 champions. The match went three sets. Waldman/Persons took a quick 3/0 lead in the third, Kellogg/Holladay responded by winning the next four games, but Waldman stepped it up a level and the 7th seeds won 64 in the third.
Mixed doubles was held for the first time at a senior world championships in San Diego. In mixed, all matches in which the teams split sets were decided by a 10 point match tiebreaker. USA Medalists in mixed:
Amy Alcini USA/Joseph Lizardo, PHI reached the final of the 35 mixed (despite being eligible for the 40s) where they lost to Maria Bergenheim, EST/Thassilo Haun, GER.
The 40 mixed saw Leach/Tracie Currie, USA rally from a deep hole in the match tiebreak to beat Magers/Tarango 61 46 (7)
Nasim/Steve Dawson won the 45 mixed over Leslie O’Halloran, IRE/Bart Theelen, NED 26 64 (8). Dawson’s wife Jennifer, won the 45 singles. Nasim/Dawson beat Lyons/Glen Barton, USA, 75 63 in the semis.
American bronze medalists in the 50 mixed were Michael Mehmedbasich (Susan Wright’s brother)/Newman and Tammen/Tracey Thompson.
The 55 mixed champions are Robin Harris/Angel Lopez, who beat Russell/Persons in the final 63 64. Persons/Russell edged Carolyn Lane/Rob Millsop, USA, in the semis 0-6 64 (4), while Harris/Lopez beat John/Terry Holladay, USA in the other semi.