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  • Houston Day 7: Smashey Wins 35 Singles; Morris/Toney Win 45 Doubles

    Click here to see the draws and results. 

    Click here to see photos.

    Sunday was the final day of the 2021 Clay Courts in Houston, which was the 50th anniversary of this tournament. It’s always a great event but this year’s edition seemed better than every. Many thanks to everyone who made the tournament great, especially Sue Bramlette and the very supportive Bob Bramlette. It was fun and see you next year!

    Kaysey Smashey beat Alina Mihailescu in three sets to win the 35 clay singles.

    Jennifer Toney/Tammy Morris won the 45 doubles over unseeded Corrine Loeffler/Kristin Warren 76 60. Brandi Bratek, the third seed won the bronze.

    And that’s a wrap on the 2021 Clay Courts in Houston…coming up, the 40-80 Clay in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida!

  • Houston Day 6: Julie Thu Blanks Field to Win 45 Clay; Kaysie Smashey/Thu Win 35 Doubles

    Click here to see the draws and results. 

    Click here to see photos.

    Last night I flew to Florida for the 60 national clay but the Houston tournament is still going. The tournament was scheduled so the older divisions started on Monday, the 45s on Wednesday and the 35s on Thursday.

    Julie Thu won the 45 singles title without dropping a set. She beat #2 seed Luciana Roldan in the final. She’s an amazing player, lefty with double handed groundies. She pummels the ball after angling opponents off the court. Leslie Wargo mount an impressive comeback to take the bronze over #3 Dianne Lee 06 62 63.

    Julie Thu

    In the 35s, Kaysie Smashey and Alina Mihailescu are in the final which will be held tomorrow (Sunday) morning. Smashey and Thu won the 35 doubles over unseeded Linda Sheldon/Megan Wnuk 62 60. Brandi Bratek (3) will face Chiara Combs for the bronze.

    In the 45 doubles, the top seeds, Anne Frautschi/Susanne Zuniga defaulted to Jennifer Toney/Tamy Morris, the 3rd seeds; they play Corrine Loeffler/Kristin Warren who took out the #2 seeds Stacey Williams/Mariana Hollman and the #3 seeds, Rainy Miller/Vikki Dudley to reach the final which is Sunday. Miller/Dudley won the bronze by default over Frautschi/Zuniga.

    In 55 consolation singles, Tracey Thompson beat Paulson by default over Christine Paulson.

    In 65 consolation singles, Pat Purcell beat Frances O’Sullivan 60 60.

  • Houston Clay Nationals Day 5: Klitch, Nichols, DeVries, Price Win Singles Titles; Buholz/Prejean Take 55 Doubles

    National Women’s Clay Courts, Houston, Day 5

    Click here to see the draws and results. 

    Click here to see photos.

    It was another beautiful, sunny warm (but not humid) day in Houston Friday, and there were a lot of matches both in the main draw and consolation draws. 

    As usual there was a delicious lunch and breakfast for the players…on the menu for lunch were make your own burger (using hamburger, barbecued chicken or portabella mushrooms), various salads, green, coleslaw, potato, house made potato chips, sweet potato fries and the club’s awesome cookies. Again, I cannot say enough thanks to Sue Bramlette for directing the best senior tournament, full stop. 

    I had a 9am match, and Jenny K and I warmed up as usual at 7:30. I played Tina Karwasky, the 2017-9 champion in the 65s and won 62 63. Tina slipped during the second set and skinned her knee…she was icing it, her other knee and right shoulder after the match. The conditions weather wise were perfect..70s and no wind, but the extreme contrast between sun and shadow made play tricky at times. Bunnie Jackson beat Sherri Bronson in three sets to take the 65 bronze. Lisa Musgrave beat Andrea Barnes in three sets to place fifth. In the consolation to determine 9th place, Pat Purcell beat Leslie Murveit in three sets and takes on Frances O’Sullivan next. 

    After I finished, we took some photos and I watched Jenny Klitch, (#1 in the world in 55s) play Renee Saheim, an energetic lefty who is an excellent player. Klitch though played a terrific match, smacking winners left and right (no Renee hit seemed safe from Jenny’s returns) and making Renee run a lot. The points were great but Klitch won 62 62. Gayle Prejean took third. In consolation, beating Laurie Capra 62 ret. (Capra had a loooong match two days earlier, with kathy Vick, plus doubles), Tracey Thompson won a marathon with Heidi Gerger 67 76 (12) 63! She faces Paulson in the 9-10 playoff. Vicki Buholz won the 5-8 playoff over McWilliams (winner of the 5 hour 15 minute match against Kathy Vick yesterday) 61, ret. McWilliams was pulling up after every point. Winning a match against Kathy Vick this tournament was a pyrrhic victory. After singles Renee had the doubles final with Lori Gonzalez against Buholz/Prejean, the 55 world doubles champions. Buholz/Prejean dropped the first set but rallied to win and take the gold in three sets.

    Dori Devries won the Women’s 85s when Carol Wood had to retire after dropping the first set 64 with hamstring and arm injuries. Sheila Palmer took the bronze over Burnett Herrick 64 64. Laurie Leach was 5th.

    Julie Thu took very little time in beating Dianne Lee Friday..Lee didn’t play badly but Thu just kept hitting winners at the end of points, angles then line shots. She plays Luciana Roldan in the 45s final this morning. In 45 doubles, the 1, 3 and 4 seeds survived but the #2 seeds, Stacey Williams/Mariana Hollman lost to Loeffler/Warren.

    Kaysie Smashey started her tournament with a win in the 35s and faces #3 Brandi Bratek in the semis. Alina Mihailescu (2) faces unseeded Chiara Combs who beat the 4th seed when she had to retire at 1-1 in the third set.

    Rita Price won the 90 singles despite not having played singles for two years and being 95! She attributed her wins to Tai Chi and dancing…and she is a very good dancer. If you are on Facebook check out the video from the player party of Rita dancing to New York New York.

  • Houston National Clay Courts Day 4: Carter Takes 75 Singles Crown (corrected); Jackson/Savitt Win 65 Doubles; Castell/Kimball Win 75 Doubles; Devries/Wood Win 85 Doubles

    Houston, Texas

    Click here to see the draws and results. 

    Click here to see photos.

    Brenda Carter mounted an impressive comeback in the second set to win the 75 singles gold ball in Houston today. She won 62 76(8), rallying from 2-5 in the second set against Carolann Castell. Castell did a good job during the second set of hitting deep and finishing at net to forge a 5-2 lead, but Carter became more aggressive according to Castell and closed out the match in straight sets.

    In the 55s, Jenny Klitch beat Laurie Capra 61 61 and Renee Saheim beat Gayle Prejean 62 63 to advance to the final. Klitch and Capra played in the shadows on the third court down but Klitch played a near perfect match, and ran off what was left of Capra’s legs (she had a marathon match yesterday with Kathy Vick). Saheim and Prejean played in front of the clubhouse and it was an interesting match; they hadn’t played before and you could see the players adjust their strategies; Saheim, a lefty, alternated drops, approaches to the net, and hard hit backhands in her win. In the backdraw, Vicki Buholz went down 4/0 against Shelly Works, then won the next 12 games…Jacqueline McWilliams edged kathy Vick in a 5 hour 15 minute match to reach the 5/6 playoff match against Buholz…I heard there were a lot of high (moon) balls in that match.

    Saheim/L Gonzalez, unseeded, took out the # 2 seeds in 55 doubles yesterday and today beat the #3 seeds, both in straight sets. They face Buholz/Prejean who won in straight sets to reach the final.

    Tina Karwasky just loves the matchup with Sherri Bronson…it’s great for Tina and bad for Sherri, matchups are like that sometimes. Tina won 60 60 and Sherri said Tina played flawlessly. I played Bunny Jackson and won 60 61 in a good match, closer than the score. Bunny is a tall lefty and tricky, it was a good win and am looking forward to tomorrow. In the backdraw Andrea Barnes beat Kathy Foulk 61 61 and Lisa Musgrave ended Ginny Beneke’s singles tournament 61 61 by coming to net on most points.

    In 65 doubles, Bunny Jackson/Betsy Savitt edged Andrea Barnes/Leslie Murveit in the first set of the final 76, rallying from 1-4 and 4-5 down, then took the second 62 to win the gold. Karwasky/Jan Cochran won the bronze over Kandy Chain/Lisa Musgrave 62 62.

    Bottom: Carol Wood/Dori DeVries, Brenda Carter, Winstead, Anderson, Kimball, Castell

    Castell/Sue Kimball won the 75 doubles 60 76 over Cathie Anderson/Brenda Winstead. Till the second set Castell/Kimball hadn’t lost a game all tournament. Elizabeth Barnhill/Sherri Floor took the bronze.

    The 85 doubles title was won by Dori DeVries/Carol Wood in a tight match over Sheila Palmer/Burnett Herrick 75 76. Palmer thought her team had some set points along the way.

    The 45s is underway and Leslie Wargo upset 3rd seeded Teresa Merklin to reach the semis as the other seeds advanced. Thus far there are no upsets in 45 doubles.

    The 55, 65 & 85 singles final and 55 doubles final are tomorrow.

    And here is Rita Price, 95 (winner of 90+ singles), singing and dancing to “New York, New York” a player party in Houston.

  • National Women’s Clay Courts Day 3: Jones/Kuckhahn Win 90 Doubles

    Houston, Texas

    Click here to see the draws and results. 

    Click here to see photos.

    The weather changed from torrid to delightful overnight and today it was breezy, sunny, warm and the humidity dropped (in other words Houston weather changed to San Diego weather). I even had to get out my warm up pants and jacket! The tennis wasn’t bad either!

    Lunch today was excellent; salad with all the fixings (cheese, olives, mushrooms, peas, corn, pecans and more); chicken, beef and pork which could be put into a tortilla cup with the fixings (beans, salsa, avocado etc.), tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches, and three kinds of cookies.

    And there was tennis too. I played at 9am…Jenny K and I warmed up early, then I played Andrea Barnes. I won 60 62 but the second set in particular was quite good; Andrea and I both had to make some strategy changes as the match advanced. Jenny beat Jacqueline McWilliams from Texas 60 61 but they had some great points and used the entire court.

    In the 65s, the seeds advanced; I play Bunny Jackson (a 6′ lefty) who beat Kathy Foulk 60 63; Tina Karwasky fended off a challenge from Lisa Culp Musgrave, 76 (5) 62; Lisa had a set point and missed a drop shot in the first set. Sherri Bronson ousted and outlasted Ginny Beneke (described as an energizer bunny) 75 57 61, using her experience and competitiveness to win the match. However, the doubles matches both resulted in upsets; Jackson/Betsy Savitt beat Karwasky/Jan Cochran (#1) 60 46 61 and Barnes/Leslie Murveit took out #2 seeds Musgrave/Kandy Chain in three long sets 75 36 64…the final should be another great match.

    In the 55s, Renee (Tharpe) Saheim (5) played a great match to beat Vicki Buholz (#2); Renee is a lefty with a great two-handed backhand, nice volleys and excellent mobility…she won 64 61. Renee plays Gayle Prejean (5) who upset Shelly Works (4) 63 62 in a match that had VERY long rallies…the match lasted several hours. Laurie Capra (unseeded) beat #3 Kathy Vick in a match that was about three hours long 64 67 64. Towards the end of the third both competitors had game points in the 4-4 and 5-4 games but Capra finally got over the finish line with an aggressive groundstroke. The 55 doubles are still going on…

    In the 75s, Brenda Carter beat Sue Kimball 62 64; Kimball said it was the best she’d played to date against Carter; Carolann Castell took out Cathie Anderson (winner of the marathon with Brenda Winstead yesterday) 62 63. Speaking of Winstead; after finishing play yesterday (she also played doubles with Anderson after their three-set singles), she had to visit the emergency room for full body cramping. Castell/Kimball were supposed to play Anderson/Winstead today but agreed to postpone the match till tomorrow to allow Winstead some recovery time (unless it rained in which case Castell/Kimball would take the default according to Kimball). The weather forecast though is for dry weather tomorrow.

    In the 85s, Carol Wood and Dori DeVries won their respective round robin groups and will play the final on Friday. In doubles Burnett Herrick/Sheila Palmer and DeVries/Wood both won easily and will play their final round robin match, this one for a gold ball, tomorrow.

    The 45 singles and doubles began today; there were no upsets but Dianne Lee (3) had to dig out a tough match against Emma Nguyen 36 60 76 (4).

    And then for the 90s…I had the ages wrong yesterday: Rita Price is 95; Sally Fuller is not 97 but 91 or 92; Janet Hubbard is 92 and Joyce Vanderpol is 97 (see photo below). Also Joyce Jones is 91. Trudy Kuckhahn and Jones won the gold in the 90s over Vanderpol/Fuller 60 62. Jones beat Fuller in the round robin singles 62 60 and Price beat Hubbard by default; Price and Jones play tomorrow.

    Fuller, Vanderpol, Jones, Kuckhahn

  • National Women’s Clay Courts: Torrid Tuesday in Houston

    Houston, Texas, USA

    Click here to see the draws and results.

    Click here to see photos.

    It was sweltering, torrid, hot, humid, oppressive, sultry…air temps around 100 with high humidity in Houston today. Not everyone survived the heat (to finish her match…no one keeled over). I warmed up again at 7:30 with Jenny Klitch and was soaked after just over 30 minutes of warm up. I played Debbie Burgess and was soaked again after about an hour of play. Jenny was less soaked but her match was shorter.

    There were a few upsets and some very good matches today. And as usual the club put on a great buffet breakfast (same options as yesterday, why change a good thing?) and today a very nice lunch (salad with the fixings of nuts, fruit, cheese and dressing), bread, butter, crackers, baked sweet potatoes, baked potatoes, all the fixings (sour cream, butter, green onions, bacon, cheese) and pulled pork, shredded beef and shredded chicken…and barbecue sauce (it is Texas)…plus lemon cupcakes and chocolate chip blondies for desert.

    The 55s had no upsets today other than Anna Zimmermann who had to withdraw due to illness. In doubles, Rainy Miller was able to get a replacement in doubles (Renee Heckler), thanks to the efforts of tournament director extraordinaire Sue Bramlette) and they won today. Most winning players were efficient in their matches today.

    In the 65s, Lisa (Cup) Musgrave took out #5 seed Leslie Murveit 61 76. The biggest upset though was that of energizer bunny Ginny Beneke (who played a long 3-setter yesterday) over Pat Purcell…actually it was 5-5 in the first set when Pat had to retire due to injury. And it was very hot. Tomorrow I play Andrea Barnes, a 62 63 winner over Frances O’Sullivan; Beneke takes on Sherri Bronson; Bunny Jackson plays Kathy Foulk and Tina Karwasky plays Musgrave. Musgrave and Kandy Chain, the #2 seeds, had a tough match today with Bronson/Foulk. The latter team was up 5-2 in the first set and had several set points at 53 and 54 before falling 76 63. There were some stellar lobs by Sherri Bronson but Musgrave added some nice volleys and drops of her own…it was a good match.

    Ginny Beneke, Brenda Carter

    In the 75s, doubles partners Cathie Anderson and Brenda Winstead had to play each other in the quarters and had a long, hot, very good battle. Cathie took the first set; Brenda blitzed Cathie in the second but Cathie has unbelievably good anticipation (and a killer backhand)…she sliced and dropped her way to a third set win. Anderson plays Castell next (who took a direct, efficient path to the semis); Brenda Carter faces Sue Kimball on the other half. Anderson/Winstead won their doubles match in straight sets to reach the final against Kimball/Castell.

    Cathie Anderson and Brenda Winstead right after their match, which was really a great match. They combined to reach the doubles final later in the day.

    The 85s and 90s began today too. They have four doubles teams and are playing a round robin; Carol Wood/Dori DeVries and Burnett Herrick/Sheila Palmer both won. Wood beat Herrick in singles and Devries beat Laurie Leach (there are two groups of 3 players; the winners of each group play for gold; the second place finishers play for bronze).

    Rita Price, Joyce Jones and Sally Fuller are playing a round robin in the 90s; Fuller is 97, Rita 96; Janet Hubbard got sick.

    Rita Price and Kathy Langer

    Kathy Langer came by today to visit friends and watch players…it was great to see her, it’s been years.

  • Houston, National Women’s Clay Courts Day 1; Practice Day 2

    Houston, TX

    Today was my last practice day here in Houston. I practiced early (7;30!) with Jenny Klitch. It was HUMID (and warm) … by 9am I was soaked. After hitting there was of course a little more chatting. I caught up with Cindy Babb among other friends.

    I had eaten breakfast but did check out the buffet (and had some regrets about having already had breakfast). It looked amazing, omelets or eggs made to order, oatmeal and all the fixings, fresh cut fruit, potatoes, CRISPY bacon, bacon, egg and and cheese breakfast tacos. This is the 50th anniversary of this event and the Houston Racquet Club and Sue Bramlette are sparing no effort to make this tournament special. The daily breakfasts and lunches are free to all players.

    Breakfast Buffet, Houston Racquet Club, 50th Annual Senior Women’s Clay Nationals

    After breakfast the matches began, with most of the 55s playing today and many of the 65s and 75s. Kristen Guszak beat Tracey Thompson (5) 75 55 retired (it was really hot…Tracey is ok now). The rest of the 55s seeds survived and the round of 16 is tomorrow around 9am.

    In the 65s, there weren’t any seeds in action but there were some long matches. Ginny Beneke from San Diego ousted Houstonian Mary Morgan in three sets (Ginny is a runner and super fit; she said Mary served great). Donna Drosner from Wisconsin survived the heat and Becky Timmis to win in three long sets.

    There weren’t any upsets in the 55 or 65 doubles; the 65s are out to the quarters and all seeds were in action, and won easily today. In the 75s, there was a terrific first round doubles between Brenda Carter/Ellen Goodman and Brenda Winstead/Cathie Anderson. Anderson/Winstead won in three very competitive sets.

  • Houston Women’s Tournament (ITF Grade A/USTA Cat I) Postponed to September (Updated March 14th)

    • The ITF has cancelled all tournaments including all seniors tournaments till April 20th
    • The notice today on the Houston website is: New tournament dates!! Due to the COVID-19 virus and with an abundance of caution, we have made the difficult decision to postpone this event. All entree fees will be refunded. Our new tournament dates will be September 19-25 2020. NOTE NEW DATES! We will celebrate the 50th year then!! Wash you hands and stay safe!
    • Tournament website remains the same.
    • To get a refund of your entry fee for the original dates go to the website and withdraw. You will need the email (which I’m sure everyone saved) which has your confirmation numbers. If you didn’t save the email their are instructions on how to withdraw. You will get a refund of the entry fee minus the USTA tennislink fee.

  • Smashey, Parson Siegel, Chandler, Karwasky, Orth, Kyvallos & Lutz Win Clay Singles Titles in Houston

    April 4, 2019

    Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

    The 49th National Women’s Clay Court Championships took place at the Houston Racquet Club last week. This is the best women’s senior tournament and this year, was not only a USTA National (gold ball) Championship, but a Grade A ITF Championship which added to the character and prestige of the tournament.

    Tournament directors Sue Bramlette and Cathy Lassiter along with Harriet the referee and Judy Job did their usual stellar job running the event.

    Kaysie Smashey won the 35 singles and doubles (with Julie Thu), avenging her loss earlier in March to Heather Nobler when she beat her in three sets in the final.

    Amanda Parson Siegel took out Patricia Zerdan in the semis in a grueling 75 76 encounter before she beat #2 seed Julie Cass 62 60 to win the 45s title. Zerdan took out top-seeded Nancy Hilliard in the quarters. Jenny Klitch edged Zerdan for bronze.

    Cass and Tracie Currie, top seeded, won the 45 doubles with a straight set win over Tammy Morris/Jill Toney, the 2nd seeds.

    Fran Chandler won the 55 singles and did it the hard way, beating #2 seed Shelly Works in three sets before taking out top seed and defending champion Vicki Buholz in the final in straights. Works took the bronze. Buholz/Gayle Prejean won the doubles with an emphatic win over top seeded and defending champions Mary Dailey/Erika Smith.

    Tina Karwasky won the 65 singles for the third straight year, taking out Wendy McColskey, also for the third straight year in Houston. Lil Peltz-Petow took bronze. The 65 doubles winners were more of a surprise, with long time senior players, Kandy Chain and Andrea Barnes taking the gold. They beat the top seeds, Karwasky/Jan Kirkland Cochran in three sets in the semis before beating unseeded Becky Timmis/Sue Sprague in straight sets for the gold. Karwasky/Kirkland/Cochran took the bronze.

    Heide Orth from Germany beat South Africa’s Petro Kruger to win the 75 doubles, then teamed with Kruger to beat Cathie Anderson/Carolann Castell in the doubles final. Anderson took bronze in singles; Ann Hunt/Sheila Weinstock won the doubles bronze.

    Lucille Kyvallos’ hard work paid off when she won the 85 singles; Mary John Lynch was the finalist. Lynch/Rose Austin won the doubles in a round robin; Margaret Canby/Angie Ray took silver.

    Jane Lutz won the 90 singles over the ever ebullient Rita Price and doubles with Price.

    Results are here.

    Photos (courtesy of Judy Job) are here.

  • Julie Scott Thu Strikes Gold in Houston in the 35s

    Julie Thu of Austin won the 35 singles last year in Houston, under different circumstances…it was pouring down rain and she beat Nancy Hilliard then indoors last year on a hard court; this year the final was played in about 80 degree weather outdoors on a very slow clay court. (The weather gods that punished this tournament last year, blessed it this year…it could have been San Diego, the weather was so perfect all week.) Julie played her doubles partner, Kaysie Smashey (who upset Hilliard in the semis) in the final and it was an excellent match. It was a comeback of sorts for Thu…after she won the title last year she fell doing crossfit (running backwards she tripped over a cone), and as a result has a metal plate in her left wrist. (She is a lefty.) This year she dropped the opening set, but her “crossfitness” allowed her to finish strongly after she found the range with her two-handed passing shots. Hilliard took the bronze. Smashey is in blue below. You can tell she’s in the 35s because of how low she bends to hi the ball!

    starred photos apr 10-027 starred photos apr 10-028 starred photos apr 10-015 starred photos apr 10-016 starred photos apr 10-019 Kaysie Smashey: the 35s players really bend their knees!

    The gold in doubles went to Thu/Smashey over Hilliard/Amy McCambell. The first set was all Smashey/Thu, but the #2 seeds kept it close in the second, but eventually succumbed to the top seeds 61 75. 

    There were various consolation finals going on as well. Emily Schaeffer/Kristin Hess won on a lot of levels…a year ago Kristin was quite ill with cancer and this year she was finishing fifth in doubles in an national championships. There were no losers on that court.

    Carol Gay was 5th in the 65 singles (Sue Bramlette tried but couldn’t finish the match, pulled muscle).


    starred photos apr 10-014

    Grace Woo was 5th in 75 singles, beating Patti Boyer.

    starred photos apr 10-011

    Susan Boyer played errorless, precision tennis to beat Sally Smith 60 62. The two look like sisters and even dressed alike today (Sally has the yellow in her shoes). They Boyer/Erin Boynton took on Smith/Gail Warden in an entertaining match won by Boyer/Boynton in two close sets. Boyer again played pretty much errorless tennis.

    starred photos apr 10-002 starred photos apr 10-007 starred photos apr 10-031 starred photos apr 10-029

    Thanks once more the the Houston Racquet Club and its members for hosting and supporting this event; to Cathy Lassiter and Sue Bramlette for running such a great event along with all their volunteers; to  Harriet Hulbert the referee, to Mary Ann Gralka for manning the tournament desk; to Judy Job for taking photos..and to all the sponsors, particularly the Gardere Law Firm and Bob Bramlette. This is The Best senior tournament!

    Draws: http://m.tennislink.usta.com/TournamentHome/tournament.aspx?t=171179


  • Thu, Smashey Advance to 35s Singles Final Saturday in Houston

    Julie Thu and Kaysie Smashey took different routes to the 35s final, but both arrived there in straight sets. Thu blasted her way past Julie Lessiter 61 60, in a match that looked closer than that score. Thu, a Stanford star in the 90s, is a lefty who hits two-handed off both sides.ThoughThu said she much prefers hard courts, she looked pretty comfortable on the clay. Smashey edged her way past #2 seeded Nancy Hilliard, in a closely contested semi. Smashey had a 4/1 lead in the first set, at which time Hilliard served a 15 or so minute game and held, and broke…they stayed on serve but Smashey broke at 65 for the set and won the second 63. Smashey is aptly named…when I first came by the court, onlookers told me to look for her overhead smash, which they said was amazing. The final is a repeat of the 30 hard court final in March, which Thu won.

    Hilliard-003 IMG_0110 IMG_0121 Smashey, Kaysey-003 Smashey, Kaysey-004

    In doubles, Smashey/Thu and McCambell/Hilliard advanced to the final without drama.

    In other action, Susan Boyer will meet Sally Smith in the 55 consolation final. Boyer beat Buholz 62 61. Susan was just too consistent and crafty on the clay for Buholz. Smith edged Kathy Vick in a long match…one in which Vick actually won more games. 75 16 64. Smith said she was a bit more aggressive in the third set and quit thinking too much.

    Boyer-004 Buholz-001

    Sue Bramlette, the many hat wearer, survived a long match with Cindy Babb (and retrieved a lot of drop shots). She will face Carol Gay who had a walkover.

    Grace Woo beat Kathy Langer in the 75s Kathy said the balls got heavy in the 2nd set which favored her, but that Grace blasted her off the court in the third with new balls. Patti Boyer beat Dorcus Miller 61 64.

    In 45 doubles, Hartsock/Thomason will play Hess/Schaefer. Charlotte Hartsock won the backdraw yesterday.

    In 55 doubles, Smith/Warden were down 26 15 0-40 when their opponents retired (plane to catch tomorrow). They play Boyer/Erin Boynton tomorrow.

    In 65 doubles, Gay/Johnson will take on Pruitt/Simmons for 5th tomorrow.

    In 75 doubles, Langer/Tietz will play O’Sullivan/Oldfield.

    In 35 doubles, Loeffler/Phillips play Graham/Guszak.

    All results: http://m.tennislink.usta.com/TournamentHome/tournament.aspx?t=171179

    Photos: https://picasaweb.google.com/111133686884013323699/HoustonNationalSeniorWomenSClayCourts2016

  • Barker, Downing, Fales, Lutz & Price Earn Singles Gold in Houston

    There were gold ball matches and main draw 35 matches going on all around the club today but the match of the day had to be the 45 consolation doubles match between Pam Cooke/Kim Lackey, the #3 seeds and Susan Dawson/Tosha Smith. I heard that Dawson/Smith had nine (9!) match points but Pam/Kim won 16 76(14) 75 to live to play another day.


    Diane Barker completed her utter domination of the 55s with a comprehensive 62 60 defeat of Tracy Houk. Barker hit winner after winner past Houk, which no one else was able to do all week. Houk moves extremely well, and defends really well, so getting the ball past her isn’t easy, but Diane hit laserlike groundies corner to corner and finished with sharp angles and volleys. She played just amazingly well. I took bronze over Susan by default (sore/tired  shoulder).

    starred photos-008 starred photos-010 starred photos-017

    in the 65s, Martha Downing was just as precise in beating Toni Novack, if not hitting with quite the same power. She hit her targets and didn’t allow Novack to hit her famous dropshots, or not often enough anyway. Molly Hahn won the bronze over Kathy Barnes.

    starred photos-019

    Donna Fales moved smoothly past Charleen Hillebrand to take the 75 crown in straight sets. Suella Steel beat Sheila Weinstock for the bronze.

    starred photos-014 starred photos-015

    Jane Lutz won the 85 singles …again!

    Rita Price beat Cathie Hall in the final 90s RR match, with men from a nearby senior center watching on and cheering (I heard Rita got a marriage proposal afterwards!). Rita won 61 62, she moved beautifully.

    Julie Cass/Alissa Finerman won the 45 doubles, edging Jean Marie Alpert/Tammy Morris 76 75. The #4 seeds, Laura Hudson/Cynthia Rice won the 3/4 playoff over Neuthaler/Bottinelli

    starred photos-030

    In doubles, Tracy Houk and Kathy Vick played a terrific match to beat Susan and me. The ball just kept coming back…our match lasted about three hours. Lots of interesting exchanges. Unfortunately for us Diane didn’t let Tracy hit enough balls to wear her out! Vicki Buholz/Marianne Caplan took the bronze with a 75 62 victory over Pam Cooke/Kim Lackey.

    starred photos-026

    The 65 doubles champions are Ann Stanley/Sue Bramlette (sorry, had the wrong winner’s name earlier but the right photo!) who beat Downing/Kathy Bennett 63 21 retired (Kathy was ill). Leslie Vallejo/Kathy Barnes took the bronze with a marathon three setter over Cindy Babb/Barbara Hubbard 75 in the third.

    starred photos-023

    Hillebrand/Steel won the 75 doubles over Weinstock/Jane Pang. Donna Fales/Roberta Sung took the bronze.

    And the 35s were in action too today. Julie Lessiter upset #4 seed Amy McCambell but the rest of the seeds advanced to the semis including Nancy Hilliard.

    starred photos-005

    All results: http://m.tennislink.usta.com/TournamentHome/tournament.aspx?t=171179

    Photos of players: https://picasaweb.google.com/111133686884013323699/HoustonNationalSeniorWomenSClayCourts2016

  • Jolene Watanabe Wins 45 Singles Gold in Houston; Finals Set for 55, 65 & 75s

    Jolene Watanabe avenged her 2015 loss here in the final to Julie Cass this year, beating Cass 76 64 to win the 45 Clay for the second time. Jean Marie Alpert, who upset #4 seed Hudson in the quarters, took out #3 seeded Shelly Works 63 61 to win the bronze. In doubles,  Cass is still in the running for the gold, teaming today with Alisa Finerman to beat Neuthaler/Bottincelli. They will face #4 seeded Tammy Morris/Alpert in the final.

    Jolene with trophy

    In the 55s, Tracy Houk upset #2 seeded Susan Wright 61 64 in a two hour plus match. Tracy has wicked topspin on her backhand, a funky slice on her forehand, and a “refuse to lose” attitude…and fast fast feet. She’ll need all of that in the final against Diane Barker, who beat me 62 61 today in a match which was not nearly as competitive as even that lopsided score would indicate. I was like a target on a tree and Diane was the rifleman lining up shots…she missed a few at first, then honed in on the center. She was hitting laser-like shots to any spot on the court I wasn’t near. The good news is that the match did not wear me out for our doubles! Susan and I took on Vicki Buholz/Marianne Caplan. Caplan was nursing a knee injury from the previous day (she had to play Susan and they had a 76 64 match, followed by doubles). Susan and I won 61 62, but the points were often long and there were several long deuce games, lots of lobs again. We play Houk/Kathy Vick, the #2 seeds, in the final. They beat Pam Cooke/Kim Lackey in the semis 26 62 60. So it will be a good final tomorrow afternoon.

    In the 65s, Martha Downing cruised into the final against Molly Hahn 61 62 but the 2nd set was close, every game going to deuce. Martha plays Toni Novack in the final. Toni beat Kathy Barnes 64 76, rallying from 04 down in the 2nd to win. Downing/Kathy Bennett beat Cindy Ball/Barbara Hubbard in one semi. They face Sue Bramlette/Ann Stanley, who edged Kathy Barnes/Leslie Vallejo in three sets (Kathy probably spent the rest of the day in the hot tub or ice bath…running after Toni’s drop shots and Sue’s lobs will do that to a person).

    The 75s went according to the seeds today: Donna Fales beat Suella Steel 1,1 and Charleen Hillebrand beat Sheila Weinstock (who is fortunately mostly recovered from a nasty bicycle accident she was involved in last year) 63 63. Hillebrand/Steel are in the doubles final. I’m not quite sure who they play…the results say Fales/Roberta Sung but I thought Donna told me she’d lost the first set, so I’lll check tomorrow. They played Jane Pang/Weinstock.

    In the 85s, Jane Lutz won again over Caroline Clark. Rita Price/Joyce Vanderpol won the 90 doubles over Elaine Mason/Cathie Hall.

    In 85 doubles, Clark and Lutz are getting their money’s worth…they’ve gone 3 sets in every match, but only lost to Jones/Ray. The 85s are shown below, the top four teams.


    There was a nice player dinner tonight and NSWTA silent auction. Cindy Babb won the Betty Gray Washington sportswoman award.

    Results: http://m.tennislink.usta.com/TournamentHome/tournament.aspx?t=171179

  • Houston Wednesday: On to the Semis and a Visit by Katrina Adams

    We had an early start today, 8:30, but it was overcast, so the shadows weren’t a factor today at least and the weather was fine, 60s in the morning and 80s in the afternoon with a brief rain shower.

    I played Vicki Buholz, a 5-8 seed today. She’s from the Dallas area, and teaches tennis at T-Bar there and is a member of the 2016 USA Maureen Connolly Cup team. The conditions were quite heavy and slow which probably favored me a bit. We had a 2+ hour match which was much closer than the 61 64 score would indicate. I did a lot of running! Diane Barker took out Susan Boyer 64 61 and I play Diane tomorrow morning. Susan Wright had a tussle with Marianne Caplan but won 76 64 (and finished before Vicki and I did, even though we started at the same time). Tracy Houk outlasted Kathy Vick 62 61. Tracy and Susan, who have known each other since the juniors in NorCal, will face off tomorrow.

    In doubles, Susan and I played Abbi Neuthaler and Ligia Bottinelli. We won 63 62 but it lasted nearly two hours and featured a lot of long points and games (and lobs..hey, it’s clay).


    We play Vicki and Marianne in doubles tomorrow; they beat Yvonne Gallop/Anne Pellow 64 62 today. Pam Cooke/Kim Lackey took out Kathy Foulk/Terri Thompson and in the match of the day, Houk and Vick beat Boyer/Erin Boynton 64 in the third…that was a match that had a lot of long points and rallies…it was fun to watch.

    The 45s finals are set for singles and will be a repeat of the 2015 final between Jolene Watanabe and Julie Cass. Both advanced easily to the final, losing only 3 games between them. so both should be well rested for the final. Cass combined with Alissa Finerman to advance to the semis. They face the team we beat today in the semis. Abbi and Ligia upset #3 seeds Cooke/Lackey 76 (4) 75, rallying from 53 down in the second to win the final four games.

    In the 65s, there were a number of upsets. In singles, Molly Hahn (5) took out her doubles partner, Vicky McEvoy (3) 64 63. Kathy Barnes advanced when Anne Guerrant retired after Kathy won the second set (she lost the first). Toni Novack beat Sue Bramlette and Martha Downing took out Carol Gay. In doubles, Barnes/Leslie Vallejo upset #3 seeded Hahn/McEvoy 46 64 64 but the remaining seeds advanced, though Cindy Babb/Barbara Hubbard barely escaped with a win over Debra Pruitt/Pam Simmons.

    The four top seeds prevailed in the 75 doubles, though Miller and Woo won by the skin of their teeth over Judy Janc/Norma Veal 76 (5) in the third (no wonder Norma was napping in the locker room later in the day!). However, in singles, Donna Fales, Charleen Hillebrand, Sheila Weinstock and Suella Steel advanced with ease to the semis.

    In the 85s, Carol Cofer and Jane Lutz are headed for a collision as are Cathie Hall and Rita Price in the 90s.

    There was a super cocktail party with great food in the afternoon and Katrina Adams came by to watch some tennis and talk to the players and answer questions here. It was nice for the Chair of the Board of the USTA to take the time out of her busy schedule to visit the best senior tournament in the world.

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    More results: http://m.tennislink.usta.com/TournamentHome/tournament.aspx?t=171179

  • Let the Play (on the Clay) Begin in Houston

    There are two big tennis tournaments going on in Houston this week (along with some final 4 thing for basketball). One is an ATP (men’s)  250 at River Oaks CC. The other is the USTA Category I National Clay Court Championships for women age 35/45/55/65/75/85/90. Just so no one is confused, the women’s tournament is being held on green clay (at the Houston Racquet Club) and is a gold ball event, while the men’s tournament is being held on red clay. I don’t think they get gold balls if they win!

    Play began today in the 45/55/65 & 75 divisions. No seeds lost today in any division and most matches were short but there were a few 3+ hour 3 setters. One interesting match in the 75s featured Normal Veal and Julia Levering (the former USTA president). Norma whales on the ball but Julia is more mobile…Julia prevailed in three sets.

    Oh…I played Teal Lang and won and play Althena Cajas tomorrow, a lefty who is good, and Susan Wright and I play doubles.

    Since the tennis, though of a good level, lacked a lot of drama, this is a good time to write about what a great tournament this is. The players are treated so well and made to feel so welcome. The theme this year is “hats off to Houston”. Sue Bramlette, the tournament director is going to have a tough decision as to which hat to wear to the cocktail party tomorrow night or to the player dinner the next night because she wears a LOT of hats this week…player (seeded #1 in doubles and in the 5-8 in singles); tournament director; fundraiser; detail person…she does it all with her great committee including Judy Job and Cathy Lassiter. In addition to the two aforementioned parties, the tournament provides a hot breakfast daily, and lunch daily, a free masseuse and a free trainer; full use of the fabulous facility including the dining facility. The members make us feel welcome and it’s really the best senior tournament I’ve played. So my hat is off to Sue and the Houston Racquet Club members and staff.

    Here’s a link to the results: http://m.tennislink.usta.com/TournamentHome/tournament.aspx?t=171179

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