Tennis legend Dorothy “Dodo” Cheney of La Jolla captured her 381st career national championship Wednesday when she teamed with Mary Mentzer of North Fort Myers, FL, to win the doubles title in the women’s 90 and over division of the National Senior Women’s Hard Court Tennis Championships at the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club.
Mentzer and Cheney defeated Judy Stark of Woodland Hills and Patricia Yeomans of Los Angeles, 6-0, 6-4. Cheney, who was born in 1916, is a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame. In 1938, she became the first American woman to win the Australian Championships.
In a marathon quarterfinal match that lasted more than three hours, fifth-seeded Tina Karwasky of Glendale defeated fourth-seeded Carolyn Nichols of Rancho Santa Fe 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 to advance to the semifinals in the women’s 50 and over division.
The second match of the day on Court No. 1 began as a tense baseline battle as Karwasky and Nichols split the first two sets. In the third set, Karwasky gained the advantage as she jumped to a 5-1 lead. However, Nichols changed her strategy and began coming to the net. She fought back to win three consecutive games to close Karwasky’s lead to 5-4.
Nichols served in the tenth game of the third set to stay in the match, but the Rancho Santa Fe resident committed two unforced errors and Karwasky blasted two winners to break Nichols and seal the victory.
“I just had to hit my shots and play to win. I tried to stay on top of her balls, because she has a tremendous amount of topspin on her shots. She has such incredible revolution of spin on the ball that it’s hard to time,” Karwasky said. “She was changing her strategy and coming in more (late in the third set). I was a little slow to recognize it and it took me a little while to get going.”
Karwasky will face top-seeded Frances Chandler of Jackson, TN, in a semifinal match scheduled for noon Thursday. Chandler advanced to the semifinals after defeating San Diego’s Tracey Thompson, 6-1, 6-1.
Former tennis professionals Terry Holladay of Encinitas and Ros Nideffer of Rancho Bernardo advanced to the semifinals of the women’s doubles 50 and over division. Holladay and Nideffer, who are seeded third, defeated fifth-seeded Chandler and Tracy Houk of Half Moon Bay, 6-3, 6-3 in a quarterfinal match.
Events offered at this week’s USTA National Senior Women’s Hard Court Tennis Championship include both singles and doubles in the 50 and over, 60 and over, 70 and over, 80 and over, and 90 and over age groups.
The La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club’s 39th Annual Spring Senior Championships for men is also taking place in conjunction with the women’s event. The men’s events will include singles and doubles for 60 and over, 65 and over, 70 and over, 75 and over, 80 and over, and 85 and over age groups.
Admission to this week-long tournament is free and open to the public. On-site parking is available for a nominal fee. Daily matches start at 8 a.m.