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City tennis tournament turns 50

From its modest beginnings to booming in popularity with the sport’s craze 20 years ago, the Laguna Beach Tennis Tournament,still trim and fit, turns 50 this weekend.

The tournament begins Saturday and continues Sunday, then concludes with finals action the weekend of April 28 and 29.

All action will be played at Alta Laguna Park.

“We’re expecting a really great field,” said Julie Heussenstamm, the tournament’s director for the past three years. “We have several players who played in last year’s event, entered again. It should be a great tournament.”

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Heussenstamm said that as of Wednesday, “about” 80 entrants had registered for the tournament, including several players who won division titles at last year’s event.

She said that she expects the field of participants to increase by first serve Saturday.

“This tournament has survived,” she said. “It’s on a smaller scale today, more of a community tournament than in its heyday of the ‘80s when players from throughout the county entered the tournament.”

Competition will take place in men’s and women’s singles, doubles and mixed 2.0 through Open play. A Youth/Experience doubles event that will pair a young player with an adult also will be held.

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Heussenstamm said that a new division, 2.5, is being offered for women this year.

At last year’s tournament, Manjeet Randhawa won the 4.5 men’s singles final, Chris Carpenter went undefeated in the men’s 4.0 singles, losing only one set en route to the title.

And Laura Hillstrom won the women’s 3.5 tournament.

All three are entered in this year’s tournament and are looking to repeat their championships, Heussenstamm said.

“The 4.5 and 4.0 events are always hotly contested, and they should be again this year,” Heussenstamm said. “The competition should be great.”

Other winners last year included John Rushing in the men’s open singles round-robin event; Rushing and teammate Mark Smith in men’s open doubles; Jon Cobain went undefeated in men’s 3.5; Nick Hernandez and Jim Patricola teamed to win the men’s 4.5 doubles; Amy Cichowski and Robert Seaman won the 4.0 mixed doubles with a record of 4-0; and Holly Morrell and Jim Cassidy won the 3.5 mixed round robin with a 3-0 record.

In last year’s “youth/experience” event, the team of Peter Salomon and Paul Salomon won the Davis Cup trophy. And the team of Richard Azera and Alison Azera won the Olympics youth/experience trophy.


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