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Top-Seeded Case, Briggs Advance to Tennis Final

The key to a successful doubles team in tennis depends primarily upon two factors--how talented the two players are and how compatible they are as a team.

Doubles partners Mike Briggs and Ross Case certainly aren’t lacking much in ability, but if you only consider their different backgrounds, you wouldn’t expect them to work well together.

Case, a 34-year-old tennis pro at Big Canyon Country Club, was a member of the Australian Davis Cup team for eight years and won the doubles title at Wimbledon in 1977.

Briggs, 16, is a sophomore at Corona del Mar High School. He is currently the No. 10-rated 16-under singles player in the nation and won the Southern Section individual singles title a week ago.

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But, as a team, Briggs and Case’s strongest asset appears to be their compatibility.

And mainly because of that Briggs and Case had little problem defeating Julian Barham and Darren Yates of UC Irvine, 6-2, 7-6, Saturday, in the semifinals of the men’s open division of the 24th annual Adoption Guild Doubles Tennis Tournament at the Newport Beach Tennis Club.

The victory earned Briggs and Case, who are top-seeded in the tournament, a spot in today’s finals, where they will face unseeded James Harper and Curt Stalder. Harper and Stalder upset second-seeded Curt Condon and Steve Simon, 7-6, 2-6, 6-4, Saturday.

For the past two years, Case has been Briggs’ professional tennis instructor, so they have spent plenty of time learning about each other’s game.

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“I’ve been working with Mike for two years now,” Case said, “so I’ve gotten to know him real well as a player. But I’ve also gotten to know him as a friend. And in order to be a good doubles team, you have to be good friends, too.”

The Briggs-Case team, which won this tournament last year, has an added dimension this year--Briggs’ improved serve--and it proved instrumental in the semifinal win.

“Mike’s improved a lot on his serve from last year, " Case said, and then added, jokingly, “I guess his serve got better and mine got worse.”

Briggs held every one of his serves in the match, and in the tiebreaker of the second set, his serve was the decisive factor.

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With his team trailing in the game, 5-4, Briggs served two consecutive powerful shots which Barham and Yates were unable to return with any velocity, as Briggs and Case took a 6-4 lead.

Later, at match point with the score 9-8, Briggs lined another strong serve at Yates. The UCI star weakly returned it, but it landed wide and gave Briggs and Case the victory.

In other tournament action, top-seeded Jill Beck and Linda Mallory advanced to today’s finals of the women’s open with a win over Gretchen Miller and Karen Rettenmaier, 7-5, 6-3. They will meet No. 2-seeded Gail Glasgow and Susie Warfield, who defeated Cheri Kay and Debby McCormick, 7-5, 7-6.

Unseeded Linda Mallory and Eric Sherbeck upset Linda Howell and Stuart Hutchison in the semifinals of the mixed open, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, to set up a meeting in the finals with No. 2-seeded Susie Warfield and Steve Simon. Warfield and Simon beat Bob Hochstadter and Joni Urban, 6-2, 6-2. The tournament finals begin at 10:30 a.m. today.

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