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2012 USTA National Senior Womens

ros niedefer
2012 Senior Women's 50s Champion Ros Nideffer

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2012 USTA National Senior Women’s Hard Court Tennis Championships

By J. Fred Sidhu

La Jolla, Calif. Monday, May 14, 2012

     Sometimes it takes a tennis player a little while to find their rhythm in a tennis match regardless of what level they may be playing. In Monday’s first-round action at the United States Tennis Association National Senior Women’s Hard Court Tennis Championships, unseeded Colleen Clery Ferrell of San Diego got off to a slow start against Kimberly Zebot of Dana Point, Calif. before coming back to score an impressive 6-4, 6-3 victory to advance to the second round.

     On a bright, sunny day on Court #1 at the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club, Clery Ferrell fell behind 3-0 in the first set before she rallied and won six of the next seven games to wrap up the first set. The 55-year-old Clery Ferrell took command of the second set as she established a 5-2 lead and served for the match in the eighth game. However, Zebot broke serve and then served to stay in the match. Clery Ferrell went on to the secure a service break and close out the match.

     “I started out really slow. I just started exploiting her (Zebot) backhand and started getting a little steadier and was able to string some points together and win the first set,” said Clery Ferrell, who is Club Director of the Balboa Tennis Club in San Diego. Being the mother of a 12-year-old son and a 15-year-old daughter doesn’t give Clery Ferrell much time to travel, so she enjoys the chance to play tournaments such as the USTA National Senior Women’s Hard Court Tennis Championships at the LJB&TC.

     “I love San Diego and I love playing at the Beach Club. It’s so prestigious and there is so much tradition,” she said. “I savor the opportunity to play a National tournament close by.”

     Clery Ferrell, a native of Chicago, will play her second-round match on Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. (PDT) against third-seeded Tracy Houk of Half Moon Bay, Calif. Houk, who received a first-round bye, reached the Women’s 50 singles final in last year’s tournament. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to continue to play here and do the best I can against the top players in my age division,” Clery Ferrell said.

     Ros Nideffer, the top-seed in the Women’s 50 division, received a first-round bye and will play her opening match against unseeded Margaret Smith of Torrance, Calif. on Tuesday at 10 a.m. (PDT)

     Nideffer, who lives in the San Diego community of Rancho Bernardo, played on the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Tour from the late 1970s through late 1990s. A two-time Wimbledon singles quarterfinalist and a two-time French Open doubles champion, Nideffer achieved a career-high singles ranking of 15 in the world in 1990.

Tuesday, May 15

     Playing with confidence and using an aggressive all-court game, top-seeded Ros Nideffer cruised past unseeded Margaret Smith of Torrance, 6-0, 6-1, to reach the quarterfinals of the Women’s 50 division at the USTA National Senior Women’s Hard Court Tennis Championships. Nideffer will face fifth-seeded Vicki Buholz of Dallas, Texas in a quarterfinal match scheduled for Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. (PDT).

     Playing on Court No. 8 on a bright, sunny day at the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club, Nideffer used two service breaks to jump out to a commanding 4-0 lead over Smith in the first set. With Nideffer serving the fifth game, Smith had three break points after taking a 40-0 lead. However, Nideffer, once ranked as high at 15th in the world, fought off each break point as she hit two overhead winners followed by a forehand winner. She eventually held serve to extend her lead to 5-0.

     After breaking Smith’s serve to win the first set, Nideffer opened the second set by holding serve to take a 1-0 lead. In the next game, Smith came back and held her serve when Nideffer netted a forehand service return on game point to tie the second-set at 1-1. That would be the only game Smith would win as Nideffer went on win the next five games to close out the match which took a little over an hour to complete.

     “I just forced myself to keep going for my shots and trying to get into the net and be aggressive,” said Nideffer as she spoke about the key to her second-round victory. “I was happier with my serve today. I had fewer bad tosses, so that’s progress.”

     The 51-year-old Nideffer played on the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Tour from the late 1970s through late 1990s. She is a two-time Wimbledon singles quarterfinalist and a two-time French Open doubles champion. Following her time on the tennis tour, she concentrated on raising her family and didn’t play much tennis, but she has re-discovered that competitive spirit on the court that made her one of the top players in the world.

     “There was a long period where I didn’t play at all. I started to play a little bit and I got the bug to want to try and play better and to try and play as well as I can,” Nideffer said. “I want to get myself to play some points like I used to. It feels so good to hit a good serve and get in and hit a good volley.”

     In other action, tennis legend Dodo Cheney of Escondido, Calif., played her first singles match in the Women’s 90 Round-Robin. Cheney was scheduled to play only doubles this week, but was a last minute entry into the singles event. The 95-year-old Cheney, who is a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, dropped a 6-4, 6-1 decision to 90-year-old Lovie Beard of Houston, Texas. Cheney will play her second round-robin match against Anita Claeboe of Ponte Vedra, Fla. on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. (PDT).

Wednesday, May 16

     Top-seeded Tina Karwasky of Glendale, Calif. played another near-perfect match to advance to the semifinals in the Women’s 60s division. The 59-year-old Karwasky, who will turn 60 later this year, wasted little time in eliminating fifth-seeded Chieko Holt of Klamath Falls, Ore., 6-0, 6-0, in a quarterfinal match played on Court No. 1. Karwasky has yet to lose a game in the tournament.

     After receiving a first-round bye earlier this week, she defeated unseeded Pricilla Sisson of Windsor, Colo., 6-0, 6-0, in the second round on Tuesday. In her quarterfinal victory, Karwasky controlled the match from start to finish. She attacked Holt’s serve frequently throughout the afternoon as she approached the net off her own service return to set up a winning volley. The strategy helped Karwasky break Holt’s serve each time during the match, which took a little over an hour to complete.

     “I was playing pretty good. My ground strokes were coming in nice and deep and I feel pretty comfortable on a hard court,” said Karwasky, who grew up playing on public hard courts in Los Angeles.

     As the number one seed in the Women’s 60 division, Karwasky admitted feeling a little bit of pressure. “It always puts pressure on you to do well (as the top seed),” she said. “Everybody is watching you, especially when they put you on the center court. You just want to perform well.”

     Playing at the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club is a special experience for Karwasky. “This is one of the most beautiful spots in all of the United States,” she said. “I’ve been coming here ever since I was a little kid when my mother used to play senior tournaments and she used to leave me at the beach to build sand castles.” 

     Karwasky, who played on the women’s professional tennis tour in the 1980s, will take on fourth-seeded Molly Hahn of Belmont, Mass. in a semifinal match on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. (PDT).

     In other action, top-seeded Ros Nideffer advanced to Thursday’s semifinals of the Women’s 50 division as she defeated fifth-seeded Vicki Buholz of Dallas, Texas, 6-2, 6-2, in a morning quarterfinal match on Court No.1. Nideffer needed nearly two hours to eliminate Buholz in a match highlighted by many long rallies and numerous deuce games.

Thursday, May 17

      Third-seeded Tracy Houk of Half Moon Bay, Calif., playing with fierce determination and tenacity, ousted defending champion Frances Chandler of Jackson, Tenn., 6-4, 6-0, in the Women’s 50s division semifinals. A year ago, Houk reached the Women’s 50 singles final where she lost to Chandler, 6-2, 6-3, but on a breezy, mostly sunny Thursday afternoon on Court No. 2, she outlasted the steady-playing Chandler in one-hour and 40 minutes.

      Chandler and Houk exchanged service breaks early in the first set of their semifinal match, but at 3-3, Chandler was broken and Houk held serve to take a 5-3 lead. Chandler, who was seeded second, held her serve in the next game to close the gap to 5-4. Houk then served for the first set but fell behind 15-40 and with two break point opportunities Chandler looked poised to break serve to tie the set score.

     However, Houk fought off both break points and went on to hold serve and close out the first set. The first game of the second set proved to be the turning point of the match as Houk scored a key service break after winning an extended 16-point game. That was all Houk needed as she reeled off the next five consecutive games to win the match.

     The victory was especially gratifying for Houk, who has played against Chandler since their days in the 30 and over Nationals. Houk said even though they’ve taken turns winning matches against each other, Chandler has had the upper hand in their last few matches. Houk credited her tenacity and fitness for helping her win their latest match.

     “No matter what the score is, I play each point like it was the last,” she said. “I just dig in deep and play every point as hard as I can.”

     After losing last year’s final to Chandler, Houk felt she needed to work on getting more physically fit. “I just needed to get in better physical shape. I knew I could mentally do it, but I needed to be more physically fit,” she said. “I came in here (this year) a lot more fit.”

     The 50-year-old Houk advances to this year’s Women’s 50 singles final, where she will play top-seeded Ros Nideffer on Friday at 10 a.m. (PDT). Nideffe defeated fourth-seeded Mariana Hollman of Winston Salem, N.C., 6-4, 6-1, to reach the singles final against Houk. A two-time Wimbledon singles quarterfinalist and a two-time French Open doubles champion, Nideffer was once ranked as high as No. 15 in the world.

Friday, May 18

     Determined not to let history repeat itself, top-seeded Ros Nideffer of Rancho Bernardo, Calif., defeated third-seeded Tracy Houk of Half Moon Bay, Calif., 6-1, 6-3, to win the Women’s 50s singles title at USTA National Senior Women’s Hard Court Tennis Championships.

     On a breezy and partly sunny morning on Court No. 1 at the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club, Nideffer, a former touring tennis professional, used an attacking net game to overcome Houk in the singles final, which took one-hour and 38 minutes to complete. In their only previous meeting, Houk scored a thrilling 6-7 (3), 6-3, 7-5 in the semifinals of the 2004 USTA National 40s Hard Court Championships at the LJB&TC.

     Nideffer let a 5-1 third-set lead slip away in that match. Nideffer, a two-time Wimbledon quarterfinalist and a two-time French Open doubles champion, remembers that four-hour encounter like it was yesterday.

     “It’s a match that I’ll never forget. I had come into that tournament not having practiced. I figured I was going to work my way in and just go for my shots,” Nideffer said. “Then I came up against her and she hit these moon balls and (had an) awkward style. I just lost confidence and couldn’t put the ball away. I was afraid to come to the net. I couldn’t volley and I couldn’t put the match away.”

     In the Women’s 50s title match on Friday, Nideffer got off to a quick start as she pressured Houk from the very first game. Nideffer came to the net at every opportunity and either drew the error or hit pinpoint volley winner to build a 5-0 lead. “I didn’t want to get into a long baseline rallies and I knew I had to get into the net. I was a bit nervous about that. I just forced myself to come in,” said Nideffer, who went on to close out the first set, 6-1 in 34 minutes.

     Houk did raise the level of her game in the second set and began hitting her passing shots with more accuracy. However, Nideffer played a solid game at 2-2 to break Houk’s serve at love to take a 3-2 lead. Nideffer and Houk then played the longest game of the match, which featured 26 points. Nideffer had to fight off six break points before holding serve for a 4-2 lead. Houk later served to stay in the match at 5-3, but Nideffer clinched the match when Houk’s forehand passing shot sailed long on the second match point.

     After she was presented her USTA gold ball following her victory, Nideffer said, “It’s very satisfying. The thing I feel best about this week is just how tough I played. It wasn’t always pretty, but I played very tough and I played smart.”

     In other tournament action, tennis legend Dodo Cheney of Escondido, Calif. and Elizabeth Cookson of San Mateo, defeated Lovie Beard of Houston, Texas and Anita Claeboe of Ponte Vedra, Fla., 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 to win the Women's 90s doubles title. Cheney, a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, was awarded her career 391st USTA gold ball.

Saturday, May 19

     Unseeded Erin Boynton of Toronto, Canada, rallied from a set down to defeat fifth-seeded Tracey Thompson of San Diego, 2-6, 6-2, 6-4, to reach the Women’s 50s singles consolation championship. After losing in the second round of the main draw earlier in the week to fifth-seeded Kathy Vick of Lubbock, Texas in a tough three-setter, Boynton won three straight matches to advance to the consolation semifinals against Thompson, who had lost to eventual runner-up Tracy Houk in the main draw quarterfinals.

     Boynton, a Canadian-based orthopedic surgeon who was born in Quincy, Ill., committed nine double faults and struggled to find her rhythm in the first set as Thompson jumped to a 5-1 lead and went on to close out the set in 40 minutes. In the second set, the 52-year-old Thompson began to relax and go for more on her serve.

     “I decided that I just have to relax and I’ve got to play and hit the ball and really go for my serve,” she said.

     Thompson only double faulted once in the second set and would build leads of 3-1 and 5-2 before serving out the set to level the match at one set all. Boynton, who did not pick up tennis until her mid-30s, clearly had the momentum on her side as she broke Thomson’s serve twice early in the third set to take a 3-0 lead. Later as Boynton served with a 5-2 lead, she had two match points at 40-15, but Thompson fought back to break serve as Boynton double faulted twice.

     After Thompson held serve, Boynton served for the match at 5-4. Despite losing her third match point, Boynton went on to serve out the match, which took two-hours and one minute.

     Due to her medical practice and family commitments, Boynton plays a limited tournament schedule during the year, so she welcomed the opportunity to play in the consolation draw to get extra match play after losing in the main draw.

     “It’s quite an accomplishment for me to come and compete with these ladies and work my way up the ladder. I’ve had an unbelievable week. I’ve learned so much about myself and I’ve learned so much about tennis,” she said. “This would be just the icing on the cake if I could walk away with that (consolation title) tomorrow.”

     Boynton will face fifth-seeded Vicki Buholz of Dallas, Texas in the Women’s 50s consolation singles final on Sunday.

Sunday, May 20

     Fifth-seeded Vicki Buholz of Dallas, Texas won the Women’s 50s Consolation Singles title at the USTA National Senior Women’s Hard Court Championships as she easily defeated unseeded Erin Boynton of Toronto, Canada, 6-1, 6-0, in one hour.

     Earlier in the week, Buholz, a member of the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA), reached the quarterfinals of the singles main draw where she fell to eventual champion Ros Nideffer in straight sets. Buholz, who has taught tennis at the T Bar M Racquet Club in Dallas for over 20 years, played solid tennis in dominating the Women’s 50s consolation singles final against Boynton, which was played on a cool, partly cloudy morning on Court No. 1.

     After holding serve to take a 2-1 lead in the first set, Buholz began mixing up her shots and went on to win 16 of the next 20 points to put away the first set in 33 minutes. In the second set, Buholz continued her steady play as she kept Boynton from finding her rhythm and getting back into the match. With a 5-0, Buholz easily served out the match.

     “I’m excited. It feels great. I prepared well and I did a good job of mixing it up,” Buholz said after her victory. “I kept the ball low and kept her out of her rhythm.”

     As she was well aware that Boynton rallied from a set down to win her consolation semifinal match on Saturday, Buholz was careful not to lose her intensity and concentration after winning the first set.

     “Everybody here is a fighter. Anything can slip, so you have to play each point with intensity,” Buholz said. “I tried to really focus on each point."

     Final tournament draws are available at:

     Designated one of the Top 50 Tennis Resorts in the world by Tennis Resorts Online, the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club's reputation as a top tennis destination started in 1942 when it attracted its first major tournament, the Pacific Coast Men's Doubles Championship. The Club’s staff includes Director of Tennis Conan Lorenzo and a variety of experienced United States Professional Tennis Association pros who offer a full range of lessons, clinics, camps and services. In addition to hosting the USTA National Senior Women’s Hard Court Tennis Championships, the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club also hosts the USTA National Men’s & Women’s 40 & Over Hard Courts, and the USTA National Father & Son Hard Court Championships, scheduled for November 26 – December 2, 2012.

     A cherished beachfront resort for more than 75 years, the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club is a fourth-generation, family-owned and operated company dedicated to the operation of a 14-acre beachside resort. The resort includes three properties, including the exclusive La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club, the 128-room La Jolla Shores Hotel and the historic Marine Room restaurant. Resort amenities include 14 championship tennis courts, a nine-hole Par-3 golf course, heated swimming pool, two additional oceanfront restaurants and cocktail lounges, and one of Southern California’s only private beaches. For more information visit

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