National Clay Court Championships

April 9-14, 2019. Palm Beach Gardens, FL

60s by Kris McDonald

The Women’s 60 clay courts in Palm Beach Gardens attracted a strong field of players with matches characterized by tremendous talent and competition. There was a full 32 draw in the singles with just two byes, so everyone was put to the test starting in the first round. Ann Young edged Leslie Airola Murveit in the first and Bunny Allare-Jackson won in three sets over Kim Dean in the second. No. 1 seed Diane Barker met expectations (as usual) in defeating Ann Young, Erin Boynton and Kathy Vick on her way to the final where she prevailed over Carolyn Nichols 6-3, 6-4.


Carolyn’s path was a bit more difficult as she defeated Carolyn Franca, Sally Smith and, in the semis, Susan Wright, in an extremely hard fought 3-setter. The match lasted over three hours with both players hitting precise and penetrating shots. In the quarter-final playoff on the same day Erin Boynton outlasted Bunny Allare-Jackson and Pat Purcell had a long match in which she beat Sally Smith with a 10-point tiebreaker for the 3rd set. Susan Wright won the playoff over Kathy Vick for 3rd place and Pat Purcell defeated Erin Boynton. Tightly contested matches in the Consolation draw led to Ann Young emerging  victorious over Kathy Foulk  7-6, 7-5 in the final.


The doubles draw was equally tough with No. 1 seeds Nichols and Wright taking out the excellent team from Hilton Head, Vicki Nagy and Mary Jackson, 7-5 in the 3rd set in the second round. Jackson and Nagy had two match points in the third but couldn’t quite close it out. Kris McDonald and Kathy Zanon made it to the semis before losing to Nichols and Wright. They outlasted both Sally Smith and Christy Cherry and Vick and Allare Jackson who had a close one in the first round against Kathy Foulk and Kim Dean. Zanon and McDonald hoped that the epic singles match between Wright and Nichols would help their chances, but the No. 1 seeds somehow seemed as fresh as ever and won 6-3, 6-4.


The bottom half of the draw was also hard fought and competitive. No. 2 seeds Betsy Savitt and Ann Jacobs lodged a win over Leslie Airola Murveit and Cindy LePrevost in three sets. They faced Pat Purcell and Ligia Botignelli in the semis after Pat’s marathon singles win over Sally Smith. Ligia and Pat played skilled, attacking doubles and were able to prevail 6-1, 6-2. In the final Botignelli and Purcell notched an impressive win over Nichols and Wright 6-4, 7-5 and Ligia collected her first gold ball! The consolation final winners were Leslie Pixley and Lee Roisman over Heidi Clemmer and Ann Walters. Congratulations to all on a great week of competition and camaraderie!


70s by Judy Dixon

There is much to talk about in the 70 singles and doubles. On the plus side,congratulations go to Toni Novack who won her first gold ball over me (Judy Dixon) in the finals. Toni played a smart,competitive match using her guile and deadly drop shot to earn a hard fought 7-5, 6-4. Exceptional play by Gwenda Ward earned her a straight set victory over Molly Hahn in the second round and she followed that up with a see-saw 3-setter over a plucky Sue Kimball. Only Toni in the semis was able to handle Gwenda’s strong lefty ground strokes. Illness overtook Carol Gay who was forced to default to Mary Alice Pisani in the second round, finally resurfacing on Friday.


Vicky McEvoy and I won the doubles over Donna Fales and Betty Wachob 6-2, 6-2. We felt like youngsters against these two ...Betty moves up to the 75’s next year and Donna to the 80’s. We enjoyed the moment and still feel like the 13-year-old best friends that we were back in New Jersey/New York. The number 1 seeded team of Liane Bryson and Kathy Bennett were forced to default in the quarters to Ann Loose and Brenda Ward. Loose and Ward won the first set and early on in the second Kathy fell and badly sprained her thumb. With the No. 1 team in the country out the doubles draw opened. Loose and Ward lost in 3 sets to Fales and Wachob in the semis and the  other match featured all New Englanders -McEvoy/Dixon defeated Hahn/Kimball 7-5, 6-4.


There were many walkovers and defaults in the backdraws either from the heat, injury or “planes to catch.”


80s by Lola O’Sullivan

Inga Weber, the 80 singles and doubles winner (with Dorothy Wasser) in Palm Beach Gardens is a “snow bird” from Canada. Inga doesn’t stray too far from her south Florida winter home, but when she does, she takes home the win! She has been a participant in Florida tennis tournaments for years and I remember one thing especially about her. It was a crowded field once in Ft. Lauderdale and warm up courts were scarce... as others were crabbing, she said, “you don’t need a court to warm up, just stretch and bend and swing your arms around and you will be fine. “


I have done that since then! Not with the same results she has, but it is a fine way to get ready!


I hope a future tournament will have Inge meeting Roz King in the finals. Roz has the ultimate “slice and dice” game that might have given Inge trouble. Unfortunately, No. 1 seed Roz had to pull out of this tournament due to injury.