Liguori Tewes didn't realize the game of tennis had undergone such adrastic change in 20 years -- until she picked up an old wooden racket that was collecting dust at her Severna Park home.
That's when the first stage of her "comeback," at a county Recreation and Parks clinic in June, met its initial resistance.
"My husband said, 'You're not taking that, are you?' And I told him, 'Sure, a lot of people use this kind of racket.' Well, I got there, and I was the only one with a wooden racket," she said.
Armed with a new Spalding graphite model, Tewes, 45, was better prepared forWednesday night's novice women's finals in the eighth annual Anne Arundel County Recreation and Parks Open Tennis Tournament at AnnapolisHigh.
But her opponent, Janet Hendershot, 33, proved the better player, winning in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2, 6-1.
Old Mill High School senior Matt Servinsky won the men's singles title, 6-1, 6-4, over Bill Kamenoff of Annapolis, while Kay Sersen of Pasadena downed Kim Cousler of Annapolis, 1-6, 6-2, 6-4, in women's singles.
Two Annapolis residents met in the novice men's finals, with Thomas Muha outlasting Joseph Bulko, 6-4, 4-6, 6-0, 6-1. And in men's doubles, the Severna Park tandem of Shawn Pickering and Ashley Myers defeated Servinsky and Tom Hurman of Pasadena, 6-1, 6-0.
Only the novice players --those without tournament experience -- played a best-of-five set format. In this arrangement, the first player to win four points took the game, dispensing of "advantage" and "deuce."
"I hadn't played inyears, and I wanted to get back into it," Tewes said. "And I always thought competition was the best way to sharpen your skills."
Hendershot, of Odenton, agreed. "I play tennis with a friend, and she andI are both improving. And to get even better, we thought we needed to play more," she said.
Servinsky has seen plenty of court time this year, including a stint on the Old Mill varsity, where he took third in the county tournament and first in the regions.
He defaultedin last year's Recreation and Parks tournament after misreading the starting time of his first match. But he wouldn't let another opportunity slip through his fingers.
Coming in as the third seed, Servinsky upset No. 2 Rick Podolin, 6-4, 6-2, to reach the finals.
At 47, Kamenoff was 30 years older than his opponent. "I don't think aboutthat, or I'd lose before I started," he said, laughing.
Servinskybreezed through the first set, using his quickness and a powerful forehand to befuddle Kamenoff. But the momentum swung in the second set, as Servinsky fell victim to unforced errors and his own frustration.
"Bill starts to wear people down," said Keith Murphy, the Recreation and Parks tennis coordinator for 12 years. "You'd think it wouldbe the other way around."
Kamenoff, who swept defending champion Al Thomas in the semifinals, twice built 40-15 leads, only to lose the game.
"That's probably what won it for him," said Kamenoff, who had two aces in the last set.
On match point, Servinsky ran down adrop shot at the net and drilled an inside-out forehand beyond Kamenoff's reach, striking the right sideline.
"I got real nervous," Servinsky said afterward, between bites of a nectarine. "I felt like I couldn't break him. He started serving a lot harder.
"He's difficult to play. He runs down everything. It's hard to hit the ball past him."
Cousler, a finalist in doubles three years ago, found the going equally tough against Sersen.
"Each game was very close," she said. "Somebody would just have a little edge in each one, and we wentback and forth."
Sersen had driven five hours from Pennsylvania, and she spent much of the prematch time loosening her sore leg muscles.
Competing in her first tournament -- and in the championship round, no less -- Sersen was "stiff and lethargic."
She eventually would be champion.
"I had a hard time concentrating and staring at the ball," she said. "I was rubber-necking all over the place, like you do when you're driving in a car. I was looking at the other courts, the sky, and I knew I would lose if I couldn't focus in and concentrate on the ball. I was better able to do that in the second set, andI probably took (Cousler) by surprise.
"I certainly plan to entermore tournaments, but my success was not because I'm such a great tennis player. There are a lot of excellent women's tennis players in the county I couldn't beat.
"I guess I'm just lucky they didn't enter this tournament."