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 at the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club, 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, a former touring tennis professional, on Friday at 10 a.m. (PDT).
Nideffer, a resident of the San Diego community of Rancho Bernardo, 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.
Women's 50 Singles
Tracy Houk (3), Half Moon Bay, def. Frances Chandler (2), Jackson, Tenn., 6-4, 6-0
Ros Nideffer (1), San Diego, def. Mariana Hollman (4), Winston Salem, N.C., 6-4, 6-1
Women's 60 Singles
Mary Ginnard (2), Fort Lauderdale, Fla., def. Martha Downing (3), Shingle Springs, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3
Tina Karwasky (1), Glendale, def. Molly Hahn (4), Belmont, Mass., 6-0, 6-1
Women's 70 Singles
Charleen Hillebrand (2), San Pedro, def. Lurline Fujii, (4) Honolulu, Hawaii, 6-0, 6-3
Catherine Anderson (1), Del Mar, def. Suella Steel (3) La Jolla, 6-4, 6-1
Women's 80 Singles
Louise Russ (2), Boca Raton, Fla., def. Carol Cofer Austin, Texas, 6-2, 6-2
Margaret Canby (3), San Antonio, Texas, def. Doris Lutz (1) Sarasota, Fla., 6-3, 3-6, 6-4
Women's 90 Singles
Anita Claeboe, Ponte Vedra, Fla., def. Dodo Cheney, Escondido, Wo (ill)
Men's 60 Singles
Tony Ybarra (2), Ramona, def. Howard Morrison, Murrieta, 6-0, 6-1
James Upton (3), Palm Springs, def. Steve Kasner, Laguna Niguel, 6-4, 6-1
Iraj Aalam, La Jolla, def. Phil Aurbach, Las Vegas, Nev., 6-2, 7-5
William Kellogg (1), La Jolla, def. Ikko Hiraoka, Toon-Shi, Ehime 6-2, 6-7(4), 6-1
Men's 65 Singles
Les Buck (1), Queenstown, Md., def. Gregg Hepner, Hemet, 6-1, 7-5
Danny Dabby (2), Del Mar, def. German Ruiz, Playa Del Rey, 7-5, 6-0
Men's 70 Singles
James Curry, Waco, Texas, def. Anthony Enyedy (1), San Diego, 6-3, 6-4
Karel Placek, Del Mar, def. Don Abbott, Tucson, Ariz., 6-4, 6-1
Austin Mason (4), Chandler, Ariz., def. Ken Girard, Dana Point, 6-2, 6-1
Pete Gerry (2), Alta Loma, def. Joseph Zesbaugh, San Diego, 6-1, 6-1
Men's 75 Singles
James Curry (1), Waco, Texas, def. Jack Rouse, Lakeside, 6-0, 6-0
Fred Scott (2), Monarch Beach, def. Seymour Moskowitz , Indian Wells, 6-2, 0-6, 7-5
Bob Martin, Omaha, Neb., def. Maurice Altshuler, Rancho Santa Fe, WO
Rollin Odell (3), Orinda, def. Gerald Johnson, Cerritos, 6-2, 6-1
Mike Carrico, Encinitas, def. Dave Noble, Houston, Texas, 7-5, 7-5
Marz Garcia, Menlo Park, def. Gary Talley, San Diego, 6-3, 6-3
Johnny Sanchez (4), San Diego, def. Joseph Schmidt, La Jolla, WO
Neil Johnson, Escondido, def. David Frandsen, La Canada, 6-1, 6-3
Men's 80 Singles
Tadashi Yamaguchi, San Diego, def. Jack Largent, Las Vegas, Nev., 7-5, 6-0
Edward Polley Menifee, def. Edwin Smith, Chula Vista, 6-2, 7-5
Emilio Martinez-De Pison (2) San Diego, def. David Evans, Solana Beach, 6-0, 6-0
Donald Albares (1) San Diego, def. Earl Beard, Houston, Texas 6-0, 6-0