The match was close. Partners Anthony Ruggiero, of St. Petersburg, and Tom Grayson, of Treasure Island, seemed up for the challenge of playing against No. 1 seeds Ralph Howe, of St. Petersburg, and Larry Turville, of Naples. The players met in the men’s 60 doubles semi-finals match Saturday morning, at the Longboat Key Public Tennis Center’s Fidelity Investments senior doubles tournament.
Ruggiero and Grayson were down one set, and they fought hard for every point in the second set, often ending games with several deuces.
“In tennis, all you have to do is win the last point,” said one audience member to another during the close match.
In the end, Howe’s effortless-looking racket work and ability to place his shots, coupled with Turville’s strong swings, won them the match, 6-1, 7-5. Howe and Turville continued on to win their division in a final-round match against No. 2 seeds Jared Florian, of Bradenton, and Marc Mazo, of Clearwater, with a final score of 3-6, 7-6 (7), 6-3.
A total of 100 tennis players from around the country participated in the tournament this past weekend, which ran from Thursday through Sunday. Tournament sponsor representatives Gail Sullivan and Steve Kienzle, from Fidelity Investments, were spotted on the sidelines watching the matches.
Women’s 55 doubles champions Sandra Nielson and Lynn Thompson, both of Sarasota, defeated Jean Caudle, of Sarasota, and Gloria Adams, of Palmetto, 6-4, 6-7 (7), 6-2 in the final round.
In the women’s 65 doubles category, No. 2 seeds Linda Aitken and Libby Keenan, both of Longboat Key, defeated last year’s winners and No. 1 seeds, Susan Martin, of Sarasota, and Angela Mehta, of University Park, 7-6 (8), 6-0, in the final round to win their division.
And, in the men’s 60 doubles competition, the final round was a local match of sorts. Don Hartsfield, of Cumming, Ga., was the only non-local player. He and his partner, Jim Tarsy, of Bird Key, defeated Longboaters Jay Greenblatt and Jack Daly to win their division, with a final-round score of 7-6, 3-6, 6-2.