Two FSG Table Tennis Players Complete 3-Event Gold Medal Sweep
CLEARWATER – Jacksonville Table Tennis player Winston Dowridge has been competing in the Florida Senior Games for three years and in each of the three years he has increased his gold medal total.
The retired Navy veteran, won gold medals in all three events Monday at The Long Center in Clearwater as the gymnasium was filled to capacity with 20 tables. Dowridge (pictured at left) won the Men’s Singles 55-59 age group for the second consecutive year. He teamed with Eric Penny to win the 55-59 Men’s Doubles gold and with Juliana Milanov, of Winter Garden, to win 50-54 Mixed Doubles.
In the 2016 Games, he won gold medals in Men’s Singles 55-59 age group and the 50-54 Men’s Doubles and in 2015, he won the Mixed Doubles 50-54 age group gold medal.
With three gold medals hanging around his neck, after winning a total of eight matches Monday, Dowridge admits he enjoys the competition and winning gold medals, but the camaraderie plays a big part in his affection for the Florida Senior Games and table tennis.
“I spent my career in the Navy traveling to different bases,” he said. “Playing in table tennis tournaments in the Senior Games and other outlets continues to give athletes a chance to travel and opens your eyes to a whole different world out there.”
Also feeling the weight of three gold medals around their neck was William Lee, of Orlando. Lee won the 65-69 age group Men’s Singles and Men’s Doubles gold and the Mixed Doubles gold with Patricia Benitiz, in the 55-59 age group.
To win the men’s doubles gold medal, Lee and his partner, John Reynolds, of Palm Harbor, had to withstand a five-game challenge from Stuart Lesser and William Mogensen, of The Villages. On the verge of a four-game victory with a 10-8 lead, Lee and Reynolds gave up four straight points to even the match at two games each. The duo rebounded to win game five 11-6, denying Lesser and Mogensen a second consecutive gold medal in the men’s doubles 65-69 age group.
While Patricia Benitiz teamed with Lee to win the mixed doubles gold medal, she also won her fourth consecutive women’s singles gold medal and sixth in the last seven years. Since 2010, Benitiz has won a combined 12 gold medals in women’s singles and mixed doubles.
Table Tennis continues Tuesday at the Long Center with athletes age 70 and over on the floor, while Men’s and Women’s Doubles Tennis continues at the Innisbrook Resort and Golf Course. Golf begins with 18-hole competition and the first day of 36-hole competition at the Countryside Country Club.
Schedule for Tuesday, December 5
Tennis (M/W Doubles), Innisbrook Resort and Spa, Palm Harbor, 8:00 a.m.
Table Tennis (70+ & up), The Long Center, Clearwater, 9:00 a.m.
Golf (18 & 36 holes), Countryside Country Club, Clearwater, Tee Times Starting at 8:00 a.m.
Over 2,000 athletes are competing in the 26th Annual Florida Senior Games in Clearwater and Pinellas County, through December 10. Among the 2,000 participants are athletes from 38 states, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas and Canada. Athletes from over 200 Florida cities will also make their way to Clearwater for the nine-day event resulting in a $2 million economic impact to the area.
The Florida Senior Games are presented annually by the Florida Sports Foundation, a division of Enterprise Florida, Inc., and held in conjunction with the City of Clearwater and St. Pete/Clearwater Sports & Events. For competition information and results, visit www.floridaseniorgames.com.