© J Fred Sidhu
By J. Fred Sidhu, special to USTA.com
La Jolla, Calif. – 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.
The La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club’s 40th Annual Spring Senior Championships for men are also taking place the same week in conjunction with the women’s events. Although the men’s events are not national championships, they will feature many senior players who regularly compete in national tournaments. The men’s events will include singles and doubles for 60 and over, 65 and over, 70 and over, 75 and over and 80 and over age groups. A combined total of over 300 players are participating in the men’s and women’s tournaments.
Men’s championship finals will be played on Saturday, May 19. Men’s and women’s consolation finals will be played on Sunday, May 20.
Admission to the tournament is free and open to the public. A snack bar and dining facility will be available to spectators. On-site parking will also be available for a nominal fee. Draws will be posted at the Beach Club and will be available at following link: http://tennislink.usta.com/TOURNAMENTS/TournamentHome_New/Tournament.aspx?T=113672
The La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club started each of these events and has hosted them since inception. 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.
Women's 50 Singles
Ros Nideffer (1), San Diego, def. Tracy Houk (3), Half Moon Bay, 6-1, 6-3
Women's 60 Singles
Tina Karwasky (1), Glendale, def. Mary Ginnard (2), Fort Lauderdale, Fla., 6-2, 6-2
Women's 70 Singles
Catherine Anderson (1), Del Mar, def. Charleen Hillebrand (2), San Pedro, 6-3, 6-2
Women's 80 Singles
Margaret Canby (3), San Antonio, Texas, def. Louise Russ (2), Boca Raton, Fla., 7-5, 6-1
Men's 60 Singles
William Kellogg (1), La Jolla, def. James Upton (3), Palm Springs, 6-1, 6-1
Tony Ybarra (2), Ramona, def. Iraj Aalam, La Jolla, 6-1, 6-3
Men's 65 Singles
Les Buck (1), Queenstown, Md., def. Danny Dabby (2), Del Mar, 7-5, 7-6(10)
Men's 70 Singles
Pete Gerry (2), Alta Loma, def. Austin Mason (4), Chandler, Ariz., 6-4, 6-3
Men's 75 Singles
Fred Scott (2), Monarch Beach, def. Bob Martin, Omaha, Neb., 6-1, 6-2
Rollin Odell (3), Orinda, def. Mike Carrico, Encinitas, 6-0, 6-0
Johnny Sanchez, (4) San Diego, def. Marz Garcia, Menlo Park, 2-0, Ret. (ill)
James Curry (1), Waco, Texas def. Neil Johnson, Escondido, WO (inj.)
Men's 80 Singles
Emilio Martinez-De Pison (2), San Diego, def. Edward Polley, Menifee, 6-0, 6-2
Tadashi Yamaguchi, San Diego, def. Donald Albares (1), San Diego, 7-6(3), 2-1 Ret (inj.)
For complete results and tournament draws, go to: