Tennis classic really is one
Lake Tahoe’s largest and most-anticipated tennis event is coming this weekend to this beautiful mountain playground.
The 19th annual Tahoe Classic has the local tennis community eager for the competition, which attracts teams from around the country.
This year’s participants are vying for the coveted Yonex tennis bags, which will be awarded to all champions, finalists and consolation champions. “Yonex was very gracious in helping to sponsor this year’s event,” said tournament director Hersh Herschman, who is hopeful the partnership with Yonex will continue in the future.
‘The Classic always tries to attract people who are not afraid to lose, yet always play to win,” Herschman said. “It would be reasonable to say that the participants play hard, play good, play fair and have fun, which is the Tahoe Classic credo.”
Every year one division seems to stand out from the rest of the six classes and this year it appears that distinction belongs to Mixed A. The Mixed A division includes Reno’s Glen Grisillo, who has won matches at Wimbledon, teaming with Vonia Apadoca as the No. 1 seed. Some tennis observers Apadoca is the best female tennis player in Reno.
The “young guns” team of David Chang and Kelly Patterson, a South Tahoe High grad who attends college at Southern Utah, are seeded second. Patterson has progressed quite rapidly as a tennis player and is anxious to showcase her shot-making abilities.
Local teaching pro Pat Fagan, who also coaches the boys team at South Tahoe High, brings his monster forehand and teams with first-time Classic participant Katie Slizewski. Slizewski is one of the hardest and cleanest hitters in the tournament, according to Herschman.
The fourth seed is Mark Peterson of Palm Desert, Calif. He is a gifted shotmaker with a cannon for a serve. He teams with local Jenny Bentley, whose mental toughness and physical abilities make her one of the top players on the South Shore. Bentley is fresh off a victory at the Mammoth Seniors.
The always popular Century division is again very strong this year. Herschman says quality and quantity are the main elements in considering this field.
Gardnerville’s Butch Stillman, who is coming off a semifinal showing at the nationals, is paired with Herschman as the No. 1 seed. Mike LaCaze of San Diego and Rob Wheatley of of Palm Desert will showcase their shot-making prowess as the No. 2 seed. Yuba City sends two of its better players to the Classic for the first time in Greg Kohles and Larry Cowan. Kohles was ranked No. 1 nationally in the 60s age division in both singles and doubles. They enter the tourney as the No. 3 seed.
Local Bill Vollenhas and Neil Trebotich bring their punishing groundstrokes and textbook volleys and have earned the No. 4 seed. Longtime Nevada resident Wayne Prim brings his shot-making abilities and teams with Tahoe Donner pro Greg Cosgrove as worthy contenders for the title.
Possibly the most evenly matched division is Men’s B.
Jim “Kid” Currie of Encinitas, Calif., brings his “howitzer” serve and partners with Chuck Myrick of Incline Village to form the top seed.
Tom “Rocky” Reid and Bill Straub of Stockton, Calif., exhibit blistering serves and all-around games to serve as the second seed. Locals Dale Larson and John Hitchcock are seeded third. According to Herschman, Hitchcock has a thunderous forehand that instills fear into everyone he meets. Paul Proffer brings his big lefty serve from Florida and joins local Andy Nielson to comprise the fourth seed.
“I have played with Nielson and his athleticism gets him out of difficult situations time and time again,” Herschman said.
All of the 16 teams in the Mixed B class have a legitimate chance of winning. Dayton’s Scott Cummins, last year’s finalist, has returned to garner the No. 1 seed along with local Terry Bengtson. Bengtson, always a favorite at the Classic, has the ability to use the court like a chessboard with her uncanny anticipation.
Two of South Lake Tahoe’s tennis community’s finest, Phil and Joyce Youngs, enter tournament play as the No. 2 seed. Both have reliable serves and lightning-quick court coverage.
The husband/wife team of Chuck and Jan Myrick of Incline Village have tons of shot-making ability.
“I would not be surprised to see them on the victory podium,” Herschman said.
San Diego’s Dick Fowler and Becky Smizer return to the Classic after a year’s absence. Their stubbornness and resilience reflect upon their game and make them a team to beware of. Bill Vollenhas brings his blistering serve and doubles up with Linda Adams as a pair to be reckoned with.
Probably the most popular division for both participants and spectators is the Ladies class.
This year’s draw should prove to be the best ever, Herschman said.
Cindy Murphy and Ann Holmes, both of Auburn, return to defend their title. “Their caginess and anticipation are a sight to behold. New and younger players can learn a lot by just watching them,” Herschman said.
The tenacious Penne Burgess of Reno pairs with Julie Clarke of Mammoth Lakes to garner the No. 2 seed.
“If these two can put together their gutsiest effort, it could be a dramatic triumph for them,” Herschman said.
The punishing groundstrokes of Linda Hixenbaugh of Carson City and the lightning-quick court coverage of Vonia Apadoca of Reno have been awarded the No. 3 seed.
Sacramento’s Karla Dornhecker, a quick-footed athletic baseliner, joins local Andy Davis as the fourth seed.
“Davis’ mental toughness makes her the player that she is,” Herschman said.
According to Herschman, a team to watch out for is longtime partners Terry Bengtson and Jenny Bentley.
“Bentley seems to know what Bengtson is thinking and what shot she is going to hit and how much she is going to miss it by,” Herschman said.
Probably the most anticipated and viewed event at the Classic is the Men’s A division.
The top seed this year is the “WW” boys Jim Wilson, a part-time resident of Zephyr Cove, and local teaching pro Cal Waite. Wilson, a tennis pro from Palm Desert, brings his ace-making serve to the Classic for the first time. Teammate Waite has a potent ground attack.
Mark Peterson, who wins most of the tournaments he enters, teams with Reno teaching pro Craig Gorbach to form the second seed. Gorbach brings his explosive serve and penetrating groundstrokes.
Glen Grisillo, who always fares very well at the national tournaments, is paired with the powerful baseline game of Bruce Mullen.
Tournament play begins Friday and continues through Sunday at Zephyr Cove Tennis Complex. Bring along a lawn chair and plan on spending an enjoyable day of spectating. Matches begin each day at 7:45 a.m. Details from matches can be obtained from the tournament desk at Zephyr Cove Park.
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