LA JOLLA — When Patricia Kujawski got a look at the coveted gold ball, the prize for winning the National Hardcourt Championship 50-and-over tennis title, she thought it would be nice to have one.
It was a struggle, but she got it. The unseeded Kujawski, of Rancho Bernardo, battled from deficits of 0-4 and 5-2 in the final set and fought off six match points to defeat second-seeded Doris DeVries, 2-6, 7-6 (7-3), 7-5, Sunday at La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club.
The only other time Kujawski played DeVries, who is from the Sacramento suburb of Orangevale, was during last year's consolation match, after both had been retired in the third round. In that match, it was DeVries who rallied to win the match.
"I just dawned on me that this was the same gal who was down double match point to me and went on to win," said Kujawski, 52. "I'm glad I didn't remember she was the same person as last year during the match."
The hardcourts is the only national tournament Kujawski competes in, primarily because it is close to home. In her previous two appearances here, she lost in the first round and the third round.
This past week, however, she beat the first, second and fourth seeds to win the gold ball.
"I am the last person I thought would be here saying anything," Kujawski said as she accepted her award at courtside Sunday.
During the second-set tiebreaker, DeVries appeared to have the match won. The tiebreaker went to match point six times, but Kujawski used her patient style to wait for DeVries to make a mistake. She did, giving Kujawski the second set.
"Any time you struggle in a game like that, the winner always has the edge," DeVries said.
After falling behind, 0-4, in the third set, Kujawski again played her game of long volleys, forcing DeVries to slap the ball into the net on several returns, and tying the match at 5-5.
In the tournament's other national championships, June Gay of Piedmont rallied to defeat Claremont's Doris Clark, 6-2, 6-3, to win the 60-and-over singles. In the 50 doubles, the team of Rosemary Brown (Phoenix) and Kathe Henry (Hinsdale, Ill.) narrowly defeated Dorothy (Dodo) Matthiessen (Pasadena) and Julia Hayward (Newport Beach), 6-4, 0-6, 7-5.
In the 60 doubles, Jean Dattan (San Diego) and Betty Pratt (Longwood, Fla.) beat Dodo Cheney (Santa Monica) and Phyllis Adler (Los Angeles), 6-2, 6-3.