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Florida men fight off Southern challenge

October 12, 2012 07:19 PM
Paul Franck of the Florida Section 3.5 Senior men's team.
70-year-old Gerald Perry of the Southern men's team
By J. Fred Sidhu, special to USTA.com

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- One of the entertaining aspects of tennis is that a match is never over until match point is won.
The Florida Section men’s team found that out on Friday afternoon at the 2012 USTA League 3.5 Senior National Championships at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden as they scored a narrow 2-1 decision over a tough Southern Section team.
The Southern Section men’s team from Lake Charles, La. took an early 1-0 lead as Thomas Hughes and Ronald Darnutzer defeated Florida’s No. 2 doubles team of Steve Gilman and Earl Schwartz, 6-3, 6-2 on Court 11.
In the No. 1 doubles match, Florida’s Brian McGee and Paul Frank took on Gerald Perry and Danny Lanza of the Southern Team. The 70-year-old Perry, who has been playing USTA League tennis for over 20 years, was making his first appearance in a League National Championship.
McGee and Frank got off to a quick start and jumped out to a 5-0 first-set lead as they went on to close out the set 6-1. However, Perry and Lanza began to find the range on their shots and broke serve early in the second set to take a 4-3 lead.
Lanza served for a 5-3 lead, but McGee and Frank, using strong service returns, managed to break serve to knot the score at 4-4 and they eventually took the set to a tiebreak. 
After winning six of the first nine points, McGee and Frank had a 6-3 lead and three match points, but Perry and Lanza fought back and won four straight points to take a 7-6 tiebreak lead. 
Just when it looked like the match was headed to a third set match tiebreak, the Floridians went on to win the next three points to close out the match, 6-1, 7-6 (7).
With the match score tied at 1-1, the outcome of the No. 3 doubles match on Court 10 would decide the winner. 
Florida’s Frank Aiello and Richard Velez Perrone defeated Scott Raley and Robert Smith of the Southern team, 6-4, 7-5 to clinch the Florida victory.
"In the first set, they were just getting warmed up. They definitely picked it up a notch in the second (set)," said Frank following the victory. "They gave us a good fight and we were just lucky to get out and win it."
When asked what his team’s expectations are this weekend, Frank responded, "We would like to get to Sunday. If we get to Sunday, we’ll be happy and from there, we’ll have to wait and see what happens."
Despite the loss in the No. 1 doubles match, Perry of the Southern Section was happy to be playing in his first USTA League National. "It felt good to be here," he said. 
The Florida Section 3.5 Senior men’s team, which is based in Ocala, Fla., is now 1-0 in Flight 8 and in a first place tie with the Mid-Atlantic Section.
Later this afternoon, the Florida men’s team will face Mid-Atlantic in a match scheduled for approximately 3:30 p.m.


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