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Area tennis players pumped for 16th Tahoe Classic

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The renowned Tahoe Classic tennis tournament is set for its 16th running Friday through Sunday.

The tournament, organized and directed by M.J. “Hersh” and Sheryl Herschman of Zephyr Cove and Greg Painter of Genoa is strictly a doubles tournament that consists of six divisions: men’s A, men’s B, mixed A, mixed B, ladies and century. The Century event requires that the combined ages of a team equal a minimum of 100 years.

This year the always-popular century class will present its strongest field in the history of the tournament. Tournament director Herschman and Butch Stillman, last year’s champions, will return as the No. 1 seed. “Butch and I play well together, but we will have to play very well to repeat as champions,” Herschman said.

First-time century participants Mike Taylor and Kirby Moulton, both local teaching pros, will be more than worthy opponents as the No. 2 seed. West Lake Village in Southern California will send two of its finest players, Jim Whitfield and Bob Szejn, to the Classic for the first time.

“I play with Whitfield in the Mammoth seniors tournament, where he has led us to victory four times,” Herschman said.

The slugging Mike LeCaze of San Diego will team with Rich Taylor, teaching pro from Aptos, as the No. 4 seed. The canny Wayne Prim brings Sven Salumaa, tennis director at La Quinta, Calif., to the tournament as his partner. This team is possibly the tournament best and certainly would be one to look out for.

This year’s ladies division should prove very entertaining. Many new teams are entered, which should make for exciting play and spectating. Local Abby Killebrew will team with Carson City’s Penne Burgess as the top seed. The effervescent Julie Clarke of Mammoth Lakes will team with Ann Hope of Reno as worthy competitors. Vanessa Smaine and Nancy Harrison, both of South Lake Tahoe, make up the No. 3 seed and these ladies certainly have “the game” to win this division. The No. 4 seed will go to the gracious Miriam Prim and her partner, La Quinta teaching pro Cammy Salumaa. This is a team that could really do some damage. Incline Village sends two of its finest in Sara Betancourt and Kim Malinowsky. These two will no doubt prove to be very capable competitors.

The mixed A event promises to be exciting and fun to watch. Last year’s champions, “Lucky” Ray Woolley and Penne Burgess, return to defend their title and will be the No. 1 seed. Reno’s Keith Cisar and Ann Hope will team as the No. 2 seed. Bakersfield, Calif., sends two of its finest players in Dick and Mary Noel to the Classic for the first time.

“Dick and Mary always seem to win every event they enter and, therefore, are viewed as very serious competitors and a pleasurable addition to this event,” Herschman said.

Local teaching pro Cal Waite will team with the tenacious Vanessa Smaine to round out the seeding.

The most evenly matched division has always been the mixed B and this year is no exception, according Herschman. The seeding committee has spent countless hours trying to figure out the puzzle of seeding this event. Dick Fowler and Becky Smizer of Escondido, Calif., look to be the No. 1 seed. The ever-improving Steve White will team with former South Lake Tahoe standout Kelly Patterson as the No. 2 seed. Locals Phil and Joyce Youngs will again bring their expertise to the Classic.

“I feel this may be their year to take home the champion’s trophy,” Herschman said.

Industrious Scott Chaplin, tennis director at Zephyr Cove Tennis Complex, teams with local Andy Davis as the fourth seed. Davis is fresh off a national championship in the Phoenix challenge team competition. Davis is one of just two individuals who has played the Tahoe Classic 16 years consecutively.

“Her loyal support and interest is very much appreciated,” Herschman said.

Past champion Terry Bengtson of the South Shore will again be exercising her expert service return and will team with rock-solid Tom Reid of Stockton, Calif.

Past champs Ray Woolley and Keith Cisar, both of Reno, have earned themselves the top seed in the men’s A event.

Craig Gorbach, an Incline Village teaching pro at the Lakeside Tennis Club, will combine with Mark Peterson of Hawaii. Both of these gentlemen have ace-making serves that should instill fear into even the most-seasoned of opponents. New to the tournament are Reno’s Michael DesJarlais and Jason Kedzierski – both certain to make the all alphabet team. The resourceful Butch Stillman will pair with Cal Waite as the No. 4 seed.

The men’s B class should provide entertaining tennis for the spectators, who by the way, are always welcome to watch and participate in the tennis festivities. Past champion Barry Jacobson of Sacramento will team with local Steve White as the top seed. White’s game is progressing rapidly and this combination will be difficult to beat. Napa gives the Classic Steve Guerrazzi and his rifle-like serve and newcomer Ted Shea to form the No. 2 seed. Locals Chaplin and Phil Youngs have played themselves into the No. 3 seeding. Sacramento’s Walt “Scoop” Yost and his longtime partner, Vaughn Shell, have earned the fourth seed. Former local Dale Huff and John McCaskill bring their all-around abilities to the tournament and are considered more than dark horse contenders.

To ensure every team plays twice, each event includes a consolation round. This round is very much enjoyed by the players, especially so by those who come long distances. In most tournaments a first-round loss means adios amigos.

“Over the years, the Tahoe Classic has developed into a tournament that provides exceptional competition for the players, exciting matches for spectator enjoyment, social parties for the participants and their guests, and most importantly, the opportunity to make new and wonderful friendships,” Herschman said.

Play begins at 8 a.m. each day at the Zephyr Cove Tennis Complex. Spectators are always welcome.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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