TENNIS / JEFF RILEY : Passive Approach Propels Potkey to Ventura County Singles Title


Darren Potkey has been criticized for a perceived lack of aggressiveness on the tennis court. In fact, some observers say he avoids approaching the net like a school of fish.

But Potkey sticks to his strengths, and his consistent groundstrokes hooked the men’s open singles division at the 27th Ventura County championships last weekend.

Potkey, who turned 17 Tuesday and will be a senior at Ventura High, became the youngest player to win the men’s open singles title. Potkey, seeded third, handed No. 4 Tony Cohen of Westlake Village a 6-3, 6-2 loss in the final Sunday at Pierpont Racquet Club in Ventura.


“My coach and parents get on me a little because I’m reluctant to come in to the net,” Potkey said. “I take a little long to beat somebody. If I come in, it could be easier. But I only come in if the match gets tight.”

Potkey didn’t have to worry in this tournament. He did not lose a set and, in Saturday’s semifinals, rolled past No. 2-seeded Kendall Osbourne of Ventura, 6-3, 6-3.

In last year’s semifinals, Potkey held a 5-0 lead over Osbourne and lost the next 13 games. He dropped the match, 7-5, 6-0.

“This time I wanted to make him work really hard to keep his serve,” Potkey said. “By the end of the match, he was exhausted.”

Potkey’s passive approach proved to be a success. “I try to make them hit a lot of balls,” he said. “A lot of other guys hit two or three shots and the point is over. I try to keep the ball down with a slice and let them break down.”

Potkey brushed off compliments, saying he just happened to catch Cohen and Osbourne on off days. And he noted that the bracket was made easier when top-seeded Kenny Pedroza of Camarillo was beaten in the quarterfinals.


“Tony and Kendall just didn’t play very well, and I happened to be pretty solid,” he said.

Also, Potkey said he isn’t caught up with the honor of becoming the youngest player to win the men’s open singles division.

“People are blowing it out of proportion,” he said. “It’s a nice honor, but it probably will be broken next year.”

USTA Adult League sectionals: The Oxnard Tennis Center men’s 4.0 team and the Sunset Hills Country Club men’s 4.5 team advanced to the USTA Adult League tennis national championships Sunday with victories in the sectionals at Los Caballeros Sports Village in Fountain Valley.

Oxnard Tennis Center, 13-0 overall, defeated San Gabriel Valley, 3-2. It marked the first time Oxnard Tennis Center has sent a team to the national championships, which will be held Sept. 26-29 in Palm Springs.

In the championship match, Oxnard Tennis Center received victories from Ventura’s Jeff Schmoll at No. 2 singles, the No. 2 doubles team of Alan Chio and Manny Lopez of Oxnard, and the No. 3 doubles team of Camarillo’s Rick Becker and Ventura’s Dennis Beardsley.

Other team members include team captain Glenn Hamashita, Andy Felipe, Joe Renteria and Chris Kingsley of Oxnard and Kent Rollins of Ventura.

Sunset Hills Country Club of Thousand Oaks defeated Claremont Tennis Club, 3-2, after its protest was upheld, reversing a 3-2 defeat. Sunset Hills, captained by David Jaffe, advanced to the national championships Oct. 17-20 in Tucson, Ariz.

Sunset Hills sent a men’s 4.5 team to the national championships in 1987 but did not win a title.

Other Sunset Hills team members include Dave Bee, Glen Meister, Jim Gallagher, Steve Otterbeck, John Curiale, Tim Nations, Marty Holland, Dave Balsley and Pete Quinn, all of Thousand Oaks. The team also includes Ray Blair of Simi Valley and Steve Breda of Camarillo.

Gar Glenney Cup: Northern California defeated Southern California in a set tiebreaker that erased a 3-3 tie Saturday in the Gar Glenney Cup at Fresno.

The match, pitting six age-group teams, ended with Northern California ahead in sets, 28-26.

In head-to-head competition, Cabrillo Racquet Club’s 18-year-old boys’ team defeated Sunnyvale, 7-2. Cabrillo players earning singles wins included Newbury Park’s Mike Bannister, Camarillo’s Mark Ellis and Jon Cicone, and Ventura’s R.J. Cutting. Doubles teams that won included Bannister-Ellis, Camarillo’s Josh Deschamps and Mike Morgan, and Cutting and Camarillo’s Chris Karas.

Cabrillo Racquet Club’s boys’ 15 team lost, 5-4, to Alpine Hills of Palo Alto. Ventura’s Pete Webb, Camarillo’s Fred Wu and Simi Valley’s Jason Gaona earned singles victories and the doubles tandem of Webb and Wu won.

Cabrillo Racquet Club’s girls’ 12 team lost, 8-1, to Alpine Hills. Camarillo’s Katy Messmer earned Cabrillo’s lone victory.

Add Ventura Championships: Several area players won titles in the 27th Ventura County championships.

Men’s singles winners included Ventura’s Ed Lynch (45), Oxnard’s Dave Pendelton (35), Ventura’s Bruce Smith (B-plus), Canoga Park’s Habib Basit (B), and Ventura’s Mark Munoz (C). Women’s singles winners included Ventura’s Amanda Lynch (open), Lynda Fulford (B-plus), Tamara Zube (B), and Joanne Smith (C).

Men’s doubles winners included Oxnard’s Matt Simpson and Tony Cohen (Open), Oxnard’s Pendleton and Charles Dosien (35), Ventura’s Tom Primeaux and John Traylor (B-plus), and Moorpark’s Stephen Sutter and John Stuart (B).

In women’s doubles, champions included Ventura’s Terry Langenbacher and Benita Mensendiek (B-plus), and Ventura’s Judy Kelly and Janice Endo (B).

Mixed doubles winners included Ventura’s Ramon and Loesje Guizar (Open), Ventura’s Jeff Pinter and Desi Rorick (B), and Ventura’s Joanne Smith and Chris Vandergeest (C).

VCJTA Accepting Applications: The Ventura County Junior Tennis Assn. is accepting applications for its upcoming season, which begins Oct. 19 and includes 18 tournaments that are held at clubs throughout Ventura County.

Information: 805-648-3876.