Late Bloomer From Newport Beach Proves Tennis Improves With Age
June 08, 1993 | MARK WINTERS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
The red clay tennis courts of the Portschacher Tennisclub are a well-lofted lob from Lake Worthersee. For Beverly Winans of Newport Beach, the distance is staggering. Her story is as well.
Winans wasn't a junior phenom. She didn't star in adult open play. She has played her way to prominence, first on the sectional level in Southern California, then in national championships competition.
From the Public Park Championships in Arcadia, a few years ago, to representing the United States in Women's 60 Marble Cup--which started Monday and runs through Saturday in Portschach, Austria--Winans has moved from Class A to "the show." She made the transition by working hard on developing her game, and through grit.
"I remember her playing the Public Parks at Arcadia," said Jim Hillman, who ran tennis tournaments for the Los Angeles County Department of Parks & Recreation during the early 1970s, and is director of junior tennis for the Southern California Tennis Assn. "She was a late bloomer. A player who got better with time."
Better doesn't tell it by half. Winans has become one of the country's best senior competitors. For the past 10 years, playing the women's 50, 55 and now 60 divisions, her sectional and national rankings have been outstanding. Despite her top-10 status, June 7 will be the first time she has marched in a "Parade of Nations" ceremony, the first time in her career she will be playing for the red, white and blue.
"I am really excited about representing the U.S," she said. "It has been one of my goals for some time. I almost made the Bueno Cup team (women's 50), but it didn't work out."
If you asked a senior tennis player what was at the top of his/her "Wish List"--the only thing they would like to accomplish before their serious competitive days have finished--playing for the U.S. internationally would be No. 1.
Sadly, making one of the 11 seniors teams (seven for the men and four involving the women) will remain, for most, a wish never granted.
Generally speaking, there are no rules for team selection. National ranking, along with recent results, form part of the equation. The surface on which the event is being played enters into the decision-making process as does a player's fitness (meaning injury status). Finally, the spirit and cohesiveness an individual will bring to the team is also considered.
Winans receives exceptional marks in all these areas. Currently ranked (1992 U.S. rankings) No. 4 in Women's 50 singles and No. 3 in doubles (with Liz Harper of La Jolla), she is quite comfortable on the slow, gritty surface that is being used at the Portschacher Tennisclub. "I have always liked slow courts," Winans said.
Add that she is a team player, a quiet and confident individual who can place her ego needs below a team's goals, and you have a player well suited to the three match (two singles and a doubles per round) cup competitive format.
Helen Lum of San Francisco, who won the National Women's 50 Hardcourt Championships at the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club on May 2, will play No. 1 for the Marble Cup team. Lee Burling of Oswego, N.Y., is the No. 2 player. Which means Winans, if she doesn't substitute in the singles, will play only doubles.
"I know Helen and Lee. I know how they compete, the type players they are," Winans said. "That's why I think I will play doubles."
Forget that these women are 60. Marble Cup competition, the first of which was played at the Portschacher Tennisclub in 1988, is Davis or Federation cup-like. Filled with pressure, needing one more point for a team victory drama, it's exciting, taxing stuff.
"I can't wait to play," Winans said. "Representing the U.S. reminds me of being in the Olympics. It's very special."
So special Winans is not going to be experiencing Portschach alone. Her husband, Don, will be on hand. "We are going together," said Beverly. "I will play in the Marble Cup and we will spend some time traveling around doing a lot of sightseeing."
Portschach is the ideal place to combine tennis and fun. The town's tennis tradition, having hosted its first tennis event in 1896, is rich. Considered the home of international cup competition, the Portschacher Tennisclub is a renowned tournament location. "If the cups are being played in Europe, we will certainly hold at least one of the competitions," said Manfred Neumayer, the man who has been responsible for organizing 17 cup events at the resort.
Located in an area called the "Austrian Riviera," the resort is spectacular. Lenny Lindborg of Laguna Niguel, a member of this year's winning Men's 55 Austria Cup team (as were Newport Beach residents Bob Duesler and Jim Nelson), has played tournaments and cup events in Portschach for years. It is one of his favorite stops.
"With the lake right there and the hospitality the Werzer-Astoria (tournament hotel) offers, you have the best of Europe," Lindborg said. "The people are friendly. The atmosphere is relaxed. The tournaments are always well run. Being there gives you a real feel for the real Europe."
A feeling that has left Winans anxious to get on the road. She says, "We will arrive on the fourth (of June) so we have some time to adjust and practice on the clay. Because of the number of countries entered in the Marble Cup and the fact we are one of the best teams, the U.S. will have a bye in the first round.