Off-the-court opposites team to gain USTA final Return game lifts Ifeanyi, Puryear RTC TENNIS

July 31, 1993|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,Staff Writer

Waiting for their doubles opponents to appear at Clifton Park, Isidore Ifeanyi stood calmly restringing his racket, and Keith Puryear paced seemingly in anger in the background.

These apparent opposites off the court play the same style on the court. Both play aggressive tennis, and both boast one of the best serves in the area.

A tandem for seven years, Ifeanyi and Puryear have combined to be not only one of the top doubles teams at the week-long Baltimore Municipal USTA Tennis Tournament, but the second-ranked team in the state.

"Probably what has helped us the most is our ability to return serves better," said Puryear, 30, who coaches the UMBC tennis team. "When we first played together, we could hit the ball hard and had hard serves, but we killed ourselves with mistakes."

In their semifinal match yesterday, Ifeanyi and Puryear easily handled Lou Cabinet and Doug Strouse, 6-1, 6-1, in a 50-minute match.

Ifeanyi and Puryear first met as co-workers at the Twin Lakes Racquet Club. They played against each other in singles, and entered the same tournaments.

They decided quickly to pair up, in what Puryear called a "natural carry-over" and have been ranked in the state for six of the seven years. Ifeanyi, 26, is the top-ranked singles player at the USTA Tournament. He is ranked 15th in the state and 25th in the Mid-Atlantic region, and started playing tennis only seven years ago.

"I loved sports and just saw tennis on television and decided to try and play. I basically taught myself," said Ifeanyi.

After receiving a bye in the first round of the tournament, Ifeanyi cruised past Mario Beltran and Keith Davis without losing a game.

In his semifinal match, Ifeanyi made Chris Carroll duck to the court to avoid a crushing serve. Two years ago, Ifeanyi's serve was clocked at 124 mph.

Ifeanyi defeated Carroll, 6-3, 6-1, to advance in the finals.

Ifeanyi will battle Eddie Hagens in today's men's open finals at 2 p.m. at Clifton Park. Like Ifeanyi, Hagens has yet to lose a game.

In the women's open final, Maxine Evans will face Julie Ayers. Each enters the championship match with 6-0, 6-0 wins in the semifinals.

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