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Duesler Hits Fun Circuit on the Court : Newport Beach Tennis Player Keeps Opponents Happy Even in Defeat

July 22, 1987|BARBIE LUDOVISE | Times Staff Writer

A large poster leans on the entrance of the Lindborg Racquet Club in Huntington Beach, welcoming players and fans to this week's U.S. Tennis Assn. Men's 45 Hardcourt Championships.

Stapled to the board, 14 of the tournament's best players stand frozen in film, photographed during last year's tournament.

One, in the bottom right corner, offers a gracious observation in thick, black felt pen: "What A Fun Tournament!! (signed) Bob Duesler. "

According to seventh-seeded Duesler of Newport Beach, having fun is of great importance to his game. Without it, he says, there's not much point.

But the point made by many of the unseeded players who lose to him is of a kinder nature. His tone on court, they say, is of mutual respect and admiration.

"What a great player he is," said unseeded Ron Spindle of Boulder, Colo., who lost to Duesler, 6-1, 6-2, in Monday's first round. "I don't mean in ability, though of course he is tremendous in that too. I mean even though he's a (top-seeded) player, he's a gentleman on and off the court.

"He congratulated me on my good shots. Smiling, too. Most (top) players just want to get through their opening rounds as fast as they can. They rarely smile or show their opponents any concern."

A psych job, perhaps?

"Not at all," Spindle said. "He's too nice a guy."

Niceties aside, Duesler, 50, has maintained his success with a conservative baseline game, strong ground strokes, and an ability to cover all areas of the court.

His quickness stems from daily sprint sessions and his lean 170-pound, 6-foot frame. During the school season, he practices with the tennis players at Marina High School, where he has taught and coached since 1965.

"It's a good workout for me," Duesler said. "If they win a set from me, I have to buy them a Coke. So they work me pretty well."

Currently, Duesler is the nation's second-ranked player in the 50-and-over division. He has won "about 21 or so" gold tennis balls, the trophies of USTA champions, most of them with his doubles partner of six years, Jim Nelson of Irvine.

Together, Duesler and Nelson form the tournament's No. 1 doubles team.

"Bob's hallmark is that he's very relaxed when he plays," said Nelson, 51. "He's very unflappable mostly because he really enjoys the game. A lot of the better players appear to be troubled or angry when they play, like they're out there because they have to be.

"In all the years, I have never seen Bob get mad. Maybe frustrated when he's not playing well, but never abusive to an opponent or partner."

George Rissotto, who was eliminated Monday by No. 6 Larry Dodge, says he has played--and lost to--Duesler more than 15 times and he's never played another opponent like him.

"He's a wonderful guy, but also the best competitor I've ever run across," said Rissotto, 47, who played a warm-up set against Duesler Tuesday morning. "His trick is that he gives you the opportunities to get lots of points. He gives you the impression that you're in the match, with a chance. But then he wins. You go away thinking you played a pretty good match, but he beats you all the same."

Spindle agreed: "Before the match, I was told he'll let you play your game, but he'll also win the (key) points. Usually they (top-seeded players) try to overpower you, to take your game away from you, but he just lets you go with yours until it's time."

It was Duesler's time again in Tuesday's second-round, as he defeated Tom White of Beverly Hills, 6-3, 6-2. Today, he faces Gerry Chaney of Scottsdale, Ariz. at 11 a.m. in the round of 16.

"I guess I sort of epitomize the senior-level player," Duesler said. "I mean, we all want to have fun. But then we want to win. But then it's not life or death, either."

Whichever it is--game, set, or match point--Duesler says he'll keep offering his service with a smile.

Favorites Advance in 45 Tennis

The top-seeded players continued to advance Tuesday in the second round of the U.S. Tennis Assn. Men's 45 Hardcourt Championships at the Lindborg Racquet Club at Huntington Beach.

No. 1-seeded Gordon Davis of Van Nuys defeated Ed Rosa of Calabasas, 6-2, 7-6; No. 2-seeded Keith Diepraam of Sugarland, Tex. defeated Jim Machado of Cardiff, 6-4, 6-2; No. 3-seeded Jim Purley of Coronado defeated Bill Winters of Romona, 6-3, 6-1 and No. 4-seeded Len Saputo of Walnut Creek defeated Loren King of Nevada, 6-2, 6-3.

No. 5-seeded Rob Cadwallader of Georgia defeated Robin Wilner of Newport Beach, 6-2, 6-4; No. 7-seeded Bob Duesler of Newport Beach defeated Tom White of Beverly Hills, 6-3, 6-2 and No. 13-seeded Jim Nelson of Newport Beach defeated Jay Pyles of Las Vegas, 6-4, 6-2.

Dick Leach of Laguna Beach defeated Fred Nobles of Pacific Palisades, 6-7, 6-4, 6-3, and Lenny Lindborg of Laguna Niguel won a default over Art Jenkins of Laguna Beach.

Third-round singles plays starts at 8 a.m. today and second-round doubles play starts at 1 p.m.

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