Local tourney returns

Don't ask Devin Bowen to make a prediction for this weekend at the second annual Mesa Verde Invitational tennis tournament.

The former Estancia High, Texas Christian University and pro doubles standout knows just how tough the tournament will be. When you have players like Rick Leach and Scott Davis in the mix, there figures to be no shortage of high-level doubles play.

"I wouldn't want to try to pick a winner," said Bowen, partnered with former TCU teammate and current TCU men's tennis head coach David Roditi. "I think anybody's got a chance."

The tournament, free to the public and featuring a best two-of-three sets format, gets underway Saturday at noon at Mesa Verde Country Club. Former UCI standout Neel Grover and partner Ross Duncan will take on Pat Crow and Robert Ortiz in a quarterfinal match.

Bowen and Roditi will then play Mike Leonard and Brian Matek at 2 p.m.

The top two teams have byes to Sunday's semifinals, scheduled for 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. at Mesa Verde. The final is Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

Both of the top-two seeded teams figure to be tough to beat.

Leach, who won nine Grand Slam doubles titles and is a tennis pro at Newport Beach Tennis Club, teams with Mesa Verde pro Andy Stewart as the top-seeded duo. Stewart is the former Corona del Mar High girls' coach who led the Sea Kings to CIF titles in 2000 and 2001.

The No. 2-seeded team features Davis, also a Newport Beach Tennis Club pro and winner of nine national senior hard-court doubles titles with his father, Gordon. Scott Davis is paired with Tim Leonard who, like Bowen, played at Estancia and TCU.

"We have a great field," Bowen said. "At Mesa Verde we don't get that caliber of player that often. Rick Leach may be the best player I've ever been on the court with, and I know Roditi said the same thing."

The invitational tournament is run concurrently with the 29th annual Mesa Verde Country Club Grand Prix, an Orange County Grand Prix circuit event that Mesa Verde is also hosting this weekend..

Roditi and Stewart won the inaugural tournament last year, defeating Crow and Gene Carswell in the final. This year's winning team will receive half-ounce gold coins, donated by Mesa Verde member Ernie Curtis.

"This tournament is great for our club," Bowen said. "We're proud of our club and we want to showcase it. That's always the goal, to create interest in tennis, and you do that by providing exciting matches. We think we can do that this weekend."

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