Gold, silver and bronze USTA national balls were handed out to a special group of women senior tennis players at the recently concluded USTA National Women’s Senior Hard Court Championships played at the prestigious La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club.
It was a matchup of the top two seeds in the 50-and-over division as No. 2 Jennifer Dawson of Carlsbad, Calif., beat top-seeded Andrea Rice of Bethesda, Md., 7-5, 7-5, in a competitive final, reported on by longtime press aide Fred Sidhu. “It was such a hard-fought battle. It was so close all the way through. Andrea is such a great player. She did a great job of mixing it up,” Dawson told Sidhu after the match. “It’s always amazing to win a gold ball. It’s so difficult. It’s something that doesn’t come easily. It’s always special, especially in San Diego.”
After winning her semifinal match on Thursday in three-hours and eight minutes, second-seeded Carolyn Nichols of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., won another marathon match in the 60 and over singles final as she outlasted top-seed Susan Wright of Grand Junction, Colo., 2-6, 7-5, 7-6 (4) in three-hours and 25 minutes.
Wright, the defending singles champion, took a 4-1 lead in the third set and looked to be on her way to another 60s singles title, but Nichols fought back to even the final set at 4-4. After each player held serve twice, the match went to a deciding tiebreaker.
In the tiebreak, Wright had the early momentum and took a 4-2 advantage. However, Nichols mounted a furious comeback, winning the next five consecutive points to win the title.
Top-seed Judy Dixon of Amherst, Mass., captured the 70 and over singles championship with a 6-3, 6-0, victory over second-seeded Molly Hahn of Belmont, Mass., in 57 minutes.
With the score tied at 3-3 in the opening set, Dixon won 12 of the next 13 points to win the first set and continued her stellar performance by winning the second set in 18 minutes while dropping only five points.
The inspiring play of Lorna Brooks highlighted the 80 and over singles final as the unseeded 80-year-old from Sheridan, Wyo., shocked top-seeded Dorothy Wasser of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., 6-2, 6-4 in one-hour and 43 minutes to win the title.
“It feels awesome. I didn’t know what to expect when I came here because I hadn’t played a singles tournament in a few years. I’m very fortunate to have won. It’s been a lot of fun,” Brooks said after receiving her USTA gold ball. “My game plan was to be as aggressive as possible and move the ball around and get my opponent running before she runs me.”
On Sunday, defending champion Doris Lutz of Sarasota, Fla., won the 90 and over singles title at the USTA National Women’s Senior Hard Court Championships for the second straight year as she came back from an early deficit to overcome Rita Price of Aurora, Colo., 2-6, 7-5, 6-4. Price was co-seeded No. 1 with Lutz.
Following the match, tournament officials presented Lutz with a USTA gold ball for winning the national title. The 90-year-old Lutz has won over 70 USTA gold balls.
“I’m always glad to get another gold ball. They’re special. It’s nice to know that you get a little something for all the hard work you put into it,” said Lutz. “It was a tough match. I was just thankful.”
Later in the day, Lutz earned her second USTA gold ball of the tournament when she teamed with Price for a hard-fought 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 victory over Janet Hubbard of Huntington Beach, Calif., and Pat Wiedenmann of Kansas City, Mo., in two-hours and 20 minutes. Lutz and Price wrapped up the 90 and over doubles title with a 2-0 record in Round-Robin play.
The La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club’s 47th Annual Men’s Senior Championships are also taking place this week in conjunction with the women’s events, and include both singles and doubles for 60, 65, 70, 75, 80, and 85 and over age groups. Although the men’s events are not national championships, they feature many senior players who regularly compete in national tournaments.