England heads 35-and-over field

October 27, 1994|By Steven Kivinski | Steven Kivinski,Contributing Writer

Claude England may have lost a step since his playing days at the University of Maryland, but he's the one man everyone will be chasing when the Mid-Atlantic Tennis Association's Indoor 35-and-over Singles Championships begin tomorrow at the Cross Keys Tennis Club.

A field of 32 players from the Mid-Atlantic region that encompasses Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C., will begin play in the single-elimination tournament at 4 p.m. tomorrow. The event is open to the public.

England, 39, a native of New Zealand who moved to the United States in 1975 to accept a tennis scholarship to Maryland, will try to defend the indoor title he has owned three of the last four years.

"I'm match-ready for the tournament," said England, who in August won both the Mid-Atlantic Outdoor 35 Clay Championships at Manor CC in Silver Spring and the Maryland State Hardcourt Championships at Severn Racquet Club. "I've been practicing indoors a lot and I'll be ready."

As the top seed, England was awarded a first-round bye and won't have to play his first match until Saturday morning. If things go the way he hopes, England will meet No. 2 seed Mike Barnes, third seed Dave Pessin or highly ranked Ken Barnas in Monday's 7 p.m. final. A victory there would assure England of a No. 1 ranking among the Mid-Atlantic's 35-and-over crowd and a Top 10 national ranking.

"Right now, I'm ranked No. 1 in the Mid-Atlantic region based on the computer, but a win at Cross Keys would make me No. 1 and would cap off a great year," said England, who teaches the sport at both the Chestnut Ridge Country Club and the Greenspring Racquet Club. "I play a lot of tournaments, so I put it on the line a lot. I play because I enjoy it, it's a challenge for me to keep improving. I want my students to improve and you don't do that by being stagnant."

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