Lake Wales couple wins nail biter gold medal match on final day of Florida Senior Games Tennis
CLEARWATER – The final day of Florida Senior Games Tennis closed with a nail-biter of a match in the 65-69 age group mixed doubles event. The three-set match brought the six days of tennis to a close with a come-from-behind win for a Lake Wales couple at the Innisbrook Golf Course and Resort.
The husband and wife team of Judi and Aubrey Whitaker, of Lake Wales, scored a 4-6, 7-5, 1-0 (13-11) win over Martha Poitevent, of East Palatka and John Baker, of St. Augustine, to repeat as gold medalists in the age group.
After dropping the close first set, the Whitakers stormed out to a 4-0 lead in the second set only to find themselves tied at 5-5 before taking the second set 7-5.
“We felt real good going into the second set because we made a lot of unforced errors in the first,” Judi Whitaker said. “They weren’t making a lot of winning shots.”
In the third and final tie-breaking set, the Whitakers fell behind 5-0, only to rebound. They fought off several match points, down 9-7 and 10-9. With a “one point at a time,” mentality, the Whitakers overcame the early and verge of defeat deficits to win 13-11.
“We had momentum going our way and when we fell behind, I started thinking, at least we can say we were the best husband and wife team,” she said. “We just hung in there and kept playing. It was some good tennis.”
It was the fourth overall Florida Senior Games mixed doubles medal for Judi and Aubrey dating back to 2010 and second medal of the Games for each. Aubrey teamed with Scott Campbell, of Haines City, to win the men’s doubles 65-69 age group gold. Judi teamed with Sharon Lucas, of Wimauma, to win the women’s doubles 65-69 age group silver.
The 65-69 age group mixed doubles bronze medal match also went three games as Judy Crago and Gary Fair rebounded from a first set loss to defeat Janice Sullivan and John Bates 2-6, 6-3, 10-6
The roads and scenery of Fort DeSoto Park must have provided inspiration for a trio of Florida Senior Games cyclists who set age group records in both the 5K and 10K Time Trials. Cheryl Cherry, of Clermont, Patricia Beam, of Caledonia, IL and Dave Lewis of Sarasota all raced to record setting times in the both races.
Both Cherry and Lewis topped their own 5K marks they set last year, Cherry in the 60-64 age group and Lewis in the 50-54 age group. Beam’s time in the 10K beat the previous best in the 75-79 age group by more than 2:30 and her record setting time in the 5K was 26 seconds faster than the old record.
Showing the inspiration and commitment of senior athlete were Joe Hill, of Sarnia, Ontario, who not only traveled a great distance to compete, he did so with his right arm in a sling. Hill was involved in a cycling accident which destroyed the nerves in his shoulder. He had surgery to replace the nerves from his “ear to elbow,” in December of 2014 and turned in a time of just over 20 minutes in the 10K time trials riding with one arm.
94-year old Dr. John C. Taylor of Atlanta, returned for his annual 5K and 10K time trials competitions. Taylor competed in his 14th Florida Senior Games dating back to 2000 when he rode in the 75-79 age group. During that span he missed only the 2011 and 2012 Games.
Three new sports open Friday with Horseshoes, Billiards and Pickleball. Horseshoes is a one day competition while Billiards and Pickleball will last throughout the weekend.
Schedule for Friday, December 11
Pickleball (Singles), The Long Center, 7:30 a.m.
Horseshoes, Ed C. Wright Park, 8:00 a.m.
Billiards (Nine Ball), Strokers, 8:00 a.m.
Results from the 2015 Florida Senior Games will be updated daily and can be found at https://events.clearthunder.com/FSG2015. Click the “Results” link at the bottom of the page and choose from the events and sports. Individual athletes can be searched by name and by city and county. A daily wrapup of featuring athlete accomplishments will be sent out daily. To request a photo of any of the athletes, please contact Nick Gandy at [email protected] and every effort will be made to meet the request.
The 2015 Florida Senior Games are a program of the Florida Sports Foundation, which serves as the state’s lead organization in promoting and developing Florida’s Sports Industry. The 2015 Games are being held in conjunction with the St. Pete/Clearwater Sports Commission and the City of Clearwater Parks and Recreation Department.