By Karen Billing
A local doubles tennis pair recently won a doubles championships at the International Tennis Federation Seniors World Championships, held in San Diego. Jami Jones of Del Mar and Debbie Higa of Solana Beach teamed up to handle the 40s age group at the February tournament. Higa also made it to the semifinals in singles play.
Jones, who works at Carmel Valley Tennis as the junior team tennis captain, started playing tennis when she was 7 years old. She played college tennis at the University of Miami.
Higa has been playing since she was 13 and played tennis in college for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
They hit the courts together to practice whenever they can, juggling between Higa’s job at Qualcomm and Jones’ three kids. Occasionally, they play in the North County Doubles League on Fridays. Jones plays almost every Friday and Higa makes it when she can.
This win is their first championship as a doubles pair; last year they placed third in the 40 Nationals tournament.
Both say they were lucky that the world championships were held in San Diego this year, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The event hasn’t been held in the USA for 10 years and has never been held in San Diego. The hometown venue made it a possibility for them to even compete.
“All of the matches were hard,” said Jones. “We had to play the second seed in the first round because we were unseeded.”
They were able to beat a team from England and the remaining matches were all U.S. players. In the finals, they met Jennifer Lyons and Julie Shapiro, a team they have played three times in the last six months and had never beaten.
“They’re sisters and they’re very tenacious,” Jones said of Lyons and Shapiro.
“They take their tennis very seriously and we were very happy to get through that,” Higa said.
The victory earned Jones and Higa gold medals, a glass ornament and $300 each in cash winnings. Higa also received $400 for her singles finish.
“It’s just really easy to play with Jaime,” said Higa. “We just know each other…we have a connection and we know where the other is going to hit.”
As Higa is left handed, right-handed Jones knows how to take advantage of her serve.
“She has really good hands,” said Jones, also complimentary of the power and spin she puts on the ball. “It’s not like one of us is stronger than the other. We work well together and that’s the key, that’s when we play well.”
The doubles team’s next test will likely come in November at the 40 Nationals to be held at the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club.
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