Friday, July 23, 2004

Area teams prepare for title

Try to reverse fortune after not winning tourney in 30 years

By Colleen Kane
Enquirer staff writer

The main draw of the National Father-Son Clay Court Championships begins today at the Cincinnati Tennis Club, and according to tournament director Greg Rhodes, this year's championship is wide open.

Last year's winners Jerry and Brett Morse-Karzen, of Wilmette, Ill., withdrew from the tournament Wednesday because Brett, the son, has pneumonia, Rhodes said. Charles Hoeveler, the father of the 2003 runner-up duo, is pairing with a different son this year in Justin Hoeveler. And the 2003 third-place team of Bob and Bart Scott also won't compete. Jeff and Zan Guerry, who placed fourth last year, are the highest-finishing returnees and enter seeded third.

Cole and Neal Newman, of Columbus, enter as the top seed in the tournament - one of four major father-son national tournaments this year sponsored by the USTA.

A number of Cincinnati-area teams will begin their quest today for a title that has eluded locals in the tournament's 30 years at the Cincinnati Tennis Club. Six area teams automatically made the main draw and a handful more tried to qualify Thursday. Last year, all the locals were eliminated in the first day of the main draw.

The top local prospects are three teams that finished nationally ranked last year - No. 15 Bill and Jason Grannen, No. 16 Bill and Wil Lofgren and No. 17 Tim and Tim Geraci. Locals John and John Peckskamp, who won the local father-son championship this year, and Jeff James and Adam Moler, who were the runners-up, also made the main draw. Devin and Michael McCarthy received an automatic bid.

The Geracis and the Lofgrens warmed up for the Cincinnati tournament by competing in the New England Father-Son Grass Court Championships in Rhode Island and the National Father-Son Grass Courts in Massachusetts this past week.

The Lofgrens were eliminated after a round of 16 loss at the national tournament but still came away from the road trip with a championship in the New England tournament. They are the only local team seeded in this weekend's tournament (No. 8).

"(The key is) fathers being able to hang in there while the sons play the offensive role," Bill Lofgren said. "The fathers need to be consistent, keep the ball in play and keep it low and let the sons go up to the net and do the damage."

Bill, who will soon turn 56, and Wil, a sophomore-to-be at Bradley University, have been playing together since Wil was 12.

"(Wil's) bigger and stronger," Bill Lofgren said. "When we started playing when he was 12, he could keep the ball in play but would get overpowered. ... Now he can hang in there with anybody."

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