Tracy Houk Blogs from La Jolla, 50-90 Hard Courts

Tracy Houk will be a guest blogger this week from La Jolla. Read her first post below. Tracy is the defending women’s 50 singles champion and was a semifinalist in doubles last year too. Recently she captained the Women’s 50 Maria Bueno Cup team to a second place finish in Boca Raton and was a 50 singles semifinalist in the individual world championships, earning a bronze medal.

Friday, May 15

The finals today. Woke up this morning, feeling the match from yesterday. Took a walk to Starbucks for my latte, then walked the beach, feet in the water, and thinking how lucky to be in the finals. My opponent, Roz Niedeffer, was going to be tough. As much excitement over the past couple of days, the finals were definitely more subtle. Roz charged to a 2 love lead, and I fought back to tie it. But at 2 all, the tides began to change, and she took the set 6-2. . Being a world class player, Roz attacked my weakness from the start. She must have seen part of my semifinals match. All I can say was, she was kind in making this my shortest match. 6-3, was the second set, and though I had few opportunities to make the match close enough to put pressure, I just couldn’t finish a point. It was a great tournament for me, and I got through some scary heat related issues. I look forward to next year.

Playing next to me, Fran Chandler and Judy Newman were in a battle for 3rd & 4th. Fran looked to have the match in the bag, at 6-2, 3-1, but Judy fought back, and won the second set 7-6. The third set was won by Fran 6-3. What a tough finish.

The women’s 60 finals took place after my match, between # 1 seed Tina Kawarsky and  # 2 seed Martha Downing. Both ladies were dominant in getting to the finals, but Tina proved to be the stronger one today, winning 6-0, 6-1. 

The big party tonight was beautiful and this tournament really does a great job putting together these great evenings. The BBQ , earlier in the week on the beach is always a hit, and with the weather this week, it was gorgeous. I’m going home today, and rest up, ( and heal )  I love this tournament, and everyone involved, makes it special. A big thank you to, Bill Kellogg, Conan, Ralph, Doug, Pieriette, and Don, the trainer, who literally picked me up off the court a  couple  of times. And a special shout out to Coach Mike Zarranondia, for getting me through the week. I’m sure you will get more results from Carolyn Nichols, and hopefully some pictures. Kudos to her, for the amazing job she does to get us the news. It’s tough to be a player and try and get around to all the other news around you. Thank you Carolyn for letting me blog, and I hope everyone enjoyed reading it. Good luck to everyone, the rest of the year !!

Editors Note: 60s: Sherri Bronson won the bronze in singles & doubles (with Jan Kirkland-Cochran); Downing/Kathy Bennett won the doubles over Karwasky/Ann Stanley; Cathie Anderson won the 70 singles over Charleen Hillebrand but Hillebrand/Suella Steel won the singles over Jane Pang/Anne Russ; Ann Hunt took the singles bronze; 50 Doubles: Ellie Hammagren/Jennifer Lyons beat Lucia Romanov-Stark and Una Davis 62 76; Robin Harris/Judy Newman took the bronze.


Thursday: Marathon Match to Reach Final

The heat has shown no signs of cooling, and today, the Santa Ana winds didn’t come up. Judy Newman and I were scheduled to play at 10:30am, as was Fran Chandler and Roz Neideffer, but the matches ahead of us were splitting sets, which caused us to get on late. A couple of courts opened in the back, but, the tournament wanted the semi-final matches played on courts the umpires coul use the microphone. Fran and Roz managed to get on early, but, Judy and I didn’t get on until 12:15pm. For me, that was tough, because it was lunch time,

And I was hungry going on. Oh well, that’s what protein bars are for. Our march started out with service breaks,

And a few unforced errors. We know each others game so well. During this 4 hour and 15 minute match, Don the trainer, came out for me, and Judy, both in the third set. After the match, we both were helped off the court by friends and family. I prevailed, 4-6,6-2,7-5, down 2-5.

Fran and Roz finished after 1 hour and 15 minutes. Roz winning 6-4,6-1.  Judy had to go back out and play doubles, losing in 3 sets to Ellie Hammergren and Jennifer Lyons

In women’s 60’s, # 1 seed, Tina Kawarsky and # 2 seed, Martha Downing will meet in today’s final

Wednesday May 14: Surviving the Heat!

Wednesday, May 14

Temperatures rose to high 90’s, and it definitely made a difference for me in my singles. I played Ellie Hammargren on Court 1. There was no breeze, but I started out strongly. Up 3-1 in the first set, I began to feel nauseous, and called for the trainer at the change over. I managed to win the next game to go up 4-1, and by then I really started to feel ill. Don, the trainer came out, and said I was experiencing heat stroke, and I should stop, because I was just at the beginning of it: I had dry eyes, I had stopped sweating and was getting chills. He gave me Gatorade with salt, and ice packs. I was not going to default at 4-1 !! But, he was right, I just got more fatigued, and could move my feet. Not to mention I was trying to avoid getting sick on the court. I lost the next 2 games, and at 4-3, they brought an EMT out. She was checking on my symptoms, and managed to get some drops for my eyes. It felt like my eyes were being held wide open, and a blow dryer was hitting them. Ellie then went up 5-4, and had a set point, but I mange to save it with a passing shot. I won that game and the next to go up 6-5. I began to feel a little better, but still weak. I wanted to shorten the points, so I played closer to the baseline and tried to dictate the rallies, and believe it or not, came in to volley !!!! I won the set 7-5. 

As much trouble as I was having with the heat, I think it was also bothering Ellie too. She also wanted to shorten the points, and came charging into the net, but made a few more errors, and I began to get momentum. I pulled out the second set 6-2. It was over 2 hours, and I was exhausted, but happy to get through it alive. The other seeds made it through, and the semifinals are set . 

Ros Niedeffer vs Fran Chandler

Tracy Houk vs Judy Newman

In the doubles, Mary Dailey and Erika Smith, the #2 seeds,   lost to locals, Una Davis and Lucia Romanov-Stark.

My partner Anne Kerwin-Payne lost a tough one late in the evening to Hammargren and Jennifer Lyons 7-5 in the third. We missed the BBQ, and I had to order room service at 9:45pm !!! Crazy.

stingray sign houk blog day 3


Editors Notes: In other action on Wednesday:

Tina Karwasky, Sherri Bronson, Martha Downing and Rita Giles advanced to the 60s semis; Charleen Hillebrand, Cathie Anderson, Sheila Weinstock and Ann Hunt reached the 70s semis; Margaret Canby, Anneke Balics, Mary John Lynch and Jane Lutz reached the 80s semis;

In doubles, along with Hammargren/Lyons and Davis/Romanof-Stark, Newman/Robin Harris and Tracey Worley/Haas advanced in the 50s; In the 60s, Sue Bramlette/Dee Williams-Horne, Downing/Kathy Bennett; Bronson/Jan Kirkland-Cochran and Karwasky/Ann Stanley advanced to the semis; in the 70s, Hillebrand/Steel, deVries/King, Pang/Russ and Hunt/Weinstock reached the semis; in the 80s, Canby/Ray, Colwell/Jones, Buffington/Winans and Lutz/Austin advanced.


Tracy won a marathon again against Judy, 75 in the third; Ros Nideffer beat Fran Chandler in straight sets; Davis/Romanov-Stark beat Haas/Worley to reach the doubles final.

In the 60s, Karwasky and Downing won their singles and doubles matches.

In the 70s, in a repeat of last year’s final, Hillebrand will face Anderson in singles; in doubles it will be Hillebrand/Steel vs Pang/Russ.

In the 80s, it’s Lynch vs Canby and Canby/Ray vs Buffington/Winans.

Draws here:

Tuesday May 13:

Houk Blog day 2 (2)

Today, the heat rose to high 80’s and will be into the mid 90’s tomorrow. The sad part, there’s a horrible fire going on, and people are being evacuated from their homes. Some players staying with friends, came to the Club looking to get a room, with just the clothes on their back. My friend Jon, who lives in Rancho Santa Fe, had to rush back to make sure his home was ok. The Santa Ana winds were no help. Hopefully, things will change, for the better, tomorrow. [Note from editor (that would be Carolyn): the evacuation orders for RSF and other towns has been lifted; I double checked since I live in RSF].

One seed fell in the Women’s 50 singles. # 5 Tai Sisson, to San Diego local, Colleen Clery Ferrell, 1-6,6-0,1-6. all other seeds made it into the quarter-finals. In the  Women’s 60’s, all but # 4 seed, Chieko Holt advanced to the Quarter-finals. The doubles seeds also made it through. 

Judy Newman and I warmed up before our singles matches this morning, around 8am, and it was so hot. Thank goodness we survived Florida, and can handle it better.


On our way to dinner, Anne Kerwin-Payne got close with the beautiful Swans at the Beach Club.


  Houk Blog day 2 (5)

Conan and the tournament volunteers, were busy getting matches on.

Houk Blog day 2 (3)

During my beach walk, I encountered this interesting bird.

Houk Blog day 2 (4)

Last, there’s construction going on between the Beach Club, and the Shores Hotel. Unfortunately a water line broke today, which caused the Beach Club and Shores Hotel lose water service around 3pm. Within the hour, water was restored at the Beach Club, but, not a  the Shores Hotel, where I’m staying.  [Editors’ note: fortunately there are nice locker rooms with showers at the Beach Club to use!] However, when I returned from dinner, this bottle of water was  in my room. Until tomorrow, good night.

Houk Blog day 2 (1)    


Monday, May 12

1st round matches began today, at La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club. All the 50s seeds have a bye today and we all play tomorrow at 9AM. Fran Chandler, Maria Nunez, and I were asked to come out at 7:30AM for a Live News Shoot.

It was nice to catch up and congratulate Fran for her win at the ITF World Championships.

I played practice doubles with Robin Harris and Judy Newman around 10AM. My partner Anne Kerwin-Payne is getting in tonight, so Robin found me a partner, and we got a couple of sets in. It was nice to be in the Hardcourts again, but my legs were feeling it. I ran into Mary Dailey and Erika Smith practicing on the courts this afternoon. The weather is warm, and breezy. It was around 82* at 8AM !!! 

I made a pre-match visit to Don, the incredible trainer, and caught up with some interesting stories between last year, and now. Bill Kellogg came out for the News shoot. It was a pretty mellow day. Nice and relaxing. Had a stroll on the beach, and will hit the Jacuzzi later. More action tomorrow. 

 photo6 photo1 photo2 photo3 photo4 photo5

Sunday, May 11

Happy Mothers Day !! 

I am flying out early this morning from San Francisco, to San Diego, California, for the National Hardcourts. The tournament begins on Monday. The top 4 seeds are, #1 Ros Neideffer , #2 Tracy Houk #3 Fran Chandler #4 Judy Newman. Ros is returning after a year off, and was the Champion here 2 years ago. She also was on Team Maria Bueno, last year in Antalya, Turkey, and helped us win the Cup over France. We lost to them in the finals last month. Fran Chandler, also on Team Bueno, won the ITF Individual singles Championships, just last month. Judy Newman and Vicki Buholz, both Team Bueno players, reached the finals of the doubles in the ITF Individuals. I beat the #1 seed and reached the semi finals of the singles Individuals, before falling to the French gal, Marie-Christine Calleja. Frannie got her for me in the finals.

The rest of the ladies seeds,  and players of this years National Hardcourts are very tough. Ellie ( Compton ) Hammergren, a tough competitor, with an attacking game. Erika Smith, from Oakland, California, who won the 45 singles Grass singles. I can go on, but I have to cut it short.  

The women’s 60’s top seed, Tina Kawarsky, is coming off a win at the ITF World Championships too, #2 seed, Martha Downing is ready to do some damage. 

The weather will be warm, the high 80’s to mid 90’s. La Jolla, here I come !!!

One response to “Tracy Houk Blogs from La Jolla, 50-90 Hard Courts

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