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Central Arizona Players Dominate USTA National Men's 35 Hard Courts

April 27, 2009 09:40 PM

USTA National Men's 35 Hard Court Championships
Scottsdale Athletic Club, Scottsdale, Ariz.
April 19-24, 2009


Men's 35 Finalists Gary Donnelly and Rodrigo Navarro.

Nearly 50 of the top men's competitors locally and from across the nation competed at the USTA National Men's 35 Hard Court Championships, held April 19-24 at the Scottsdale Athletic Club.

An all-Phoenix area final ensued, with Rodrigo Navarro (Avondale, Ariz.) downing Gary Donnelly (Scottsdale, Ariz.) 6-3, 6-3 in the title match. It was a clean sweep for Navarro, the fifth seed coming into the tournament. 

The former Bolivian Davis Cup player who turned 35 in January, took out top-seeded Patrick Crow (Huntington Beach, Calif.) in the quarterfinals, No. 3 seed Jesse Ponwith and Donnelly, the No. 4 seed in the final. Navarro did not drop a set in any of his five matches during the week.

Navarro, whose highest ranking was around the 600's on the ATP Tour, played five years on the Bolivian Davis Cup team and played money matches in Europe, before moving to Arizona, to teach at the Wigwam Golf Resort & Spa.

"It was a great week for me," said Navarro, who picked up his first USTA National championship gold ball with the win. "I played really well and was able to pick up the trophy."

Donnelly, 46, runs the Gary Donnelly Tennis Academy in Scottsdale and has posted career wins over four former World No. 1's (Ivan Lendl, Mats Wilander, Andre Agassi, Stefan Edberg). The Men's 35's event marked a return to competitive tennis after a prolonged absence for the former star.

"it's been I think the last singles tournament I played was 11 or 12 years ago at this particular event," said Donnelly. "It's a little anticlimactic playing pro tennis to come play a local one sometimes. I'd been practicing a bit so I thought I'd give it a go. I really enjoyed hanging out with the guys a lot of the teaching pros around here that I only see professionally. It was a fun event." 

Donnelly also reached the semifinals of the doubles with partner Robert Bull (Phoenix, Ariz.).  

Men's 35 Hard Courts Doubles: (L to R) Champions Neel Grover and Arthur Hernandez, and finalists Jerome Jourdon and Jesse Ponwith

Californians Neel Grover (Laguna Niguel, Calif.) and Arthur Hernandez (Huntington Beach) claimed the doubles title, defeating 2008 champions Ponwith and Jerome Jourdon  (Phoenix, Ariz.) 7-5, 6-2 in the final.

Competitors from 11 different states, including Florida, California and New York took part in this national championship age group event.

Tournament director for the event was Alice Hing. Scottsdale Athletic Club, which has hosted the Men's 35's event since 1991, is one of a handful of sites which hosts two national championship events in a calendar year, the other being the Fiesta Bowl in early December.