By Carolyn Nichols
Five of the 40 players who will represent the United States at the 33rd ITF Seniors World Team Championships in Antalya, Turkey are from the Southern Section. They will join the other top American tennis players (men and women) in age divisions 35-55 to compete March 18-23, 2013 at the Ali Bey Resort on slow red clay.
The ITF Seniors/Super-Seniors World Team Championships is the most coveted team event on the ITF Seniors circuit. Since its inception in 1981, the number of competitors attracted to this event has increased year by year. In 1993, the ITF took the decision to divide the Seniors World Championships into two groups -- Seniors (35-55) and Super-Seniors (60-80).
In 2012, the USA won the Maureen Connolly Cup (women’s 55); finished second in the following cups: Young (women’s 40), Maria Bueno (women’s 50), Tony Trabert (men’s 40), Fred Perry (men’s 50) and Austria (men’s 55) and finished third in the Suzanne Lenglen Cup (women’s 35) and Dubler Cup (men’s 45). These events were held in San Diego, California, USA on hard courts.
The Southern players who will represent the USA in Turkey are: Wesley Cash (Chatanooga, TN), Sophie Woorons-Johnston (Anderson, SC); Carolina Blouin (Augusta, GA), Fran Chandler (Jackson, TN) and Diane Barker (Daniel Island, SC).
Cash was named to the Austria Cup team. He combined with Mark Vines (Lynchburg, VA) to win a “Gold Slam” in 55 doubles in 2012. They won the Indoors, Grass, Clay and Hard Court titles in a single calendar year and will be honored for the accomplishment by the USTA in NY during the US Open this fall. Vines will be the playing captain of the team. Sal Castillo (San Antonio, TX) and Peter Markes (Austin, TX) will complete a very strong USA Austria Cup team.
Woorons-Johnston and Blouin were named to the Lenglen Cup team. Woorens-Johnston, a native of France but now a US citizen, played her first senior national in 2012, the 35 Hard and cruised to the singles title. She represented the Southern Section in Intersectional team play the past two years. She was an All-American at Clemson, earned a PhD and now owns and teaches at Brookston Meadows in Anderson. She has also been featured on Tennis Channel. Blouin will be playing on the Lenglen Cup team for the third time. In 2011 she finished second at the Grass in singles and doubles (with Mary Beth Williams, Harrisburg, PA). In 2012 she won the 35 Clay doubles (with Amy Alcini, Malibu, CA) and won the bronze ball in 35 singles. She has three children and fits in practice and training as efficiently as possible. Their teammates will be Patricia Zerdan (Dallas, TX, playing captain, a native of Argentina), and veteran Mary Dailey (Delray Beach, FL).
Chandler was named to the Bueno Cup team for the second year in a row. Chandler was a finalist at the ITF World Championships in 2012, and had to overcome match points early in the event against Leona Matzenauer (Bend, OR) to advance. It was bittersweet for Chandler, since only days earlier she had championship points during the Bueno Cup final against Australia but failed to convert. Chandler reached the final of the 50 Clay singles in 2011 and 2012 and the final of the Indoors in 2012. She won the 50 Indoors and Hard in 2011. She will be joined by Ros Fairbank Nideffer (San Diego), Tracy Houk (Montara, CA, playing captain) and Vicki Buholz (Dallas, TX).
Barker will represent the USA as the top player on the Connolly Cup team. She is the defending world champion in 55 singles. She lost a mere four games at #1 singles in the 2012 Connolly Cup competition. It was a remarkable performance. She won the 2012 Clay singles in the 55s and the 2011 Clay in 50 singles. She was a finalist in doubles (with Rita Rector, Spring Branch, TX) at the 2012 55 Clay. Her teammates will be Susan Wright (Grand Junction, CO, playing captain), Tina Karwasky (Glendale, CA) and Pat Purcell (St. Louis, MO).