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Altoona native wins tennis gold medal

National Senior Games

Courtesy photo Mary Murray and Pete Roscia, an Altoona native, won the 70-74 mixed doubles tennis title.

Altoona native Pete Roscia thinks that successfully playing doubles tennis all comes down to successfully playing as a team.

“Playing together and setting up your partner is the key,” said Roscia, 73, a 1967 Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic High School graduate who lives in Miami. “If you want to play singles tennis, playing in a doubles format isn’t the place to do it.

“There is a lot more strategy involved in doubles tennis. There’s a team concept that is involved, and playing together is very important.”

Roscia and his doubles tennis partner, Mary Murray of Palm City, Fla., used teamwork to win a gold medal in ages 70-74 mixed doubles division at the United States National Senior Games on May 21 at the Central Park tennis facility in Plantation, Fla.

They won five straight matches in the tournament, including a 0-6, 6-2, 10-4 win in the championship match against an Iowa mixed doubles team that came into the event as its top seed.

“The final set was tied, 4-4, but we won six in a row,” Roscia said. “We won six in a row.”

Roscia is retired as a school teacher and administrator who now coaches as well as plays tennis. Murray is also a retired teacher and coach who has coached several sports, including tennis, at both the high school and college levels.

“We both have been around sports for a long time, and when you’ve done something for a long time, and you’re playing doubles tennis as a team, you figure out what you need to do, and you figure out what the team needs to do in order to be successful,” Murray said. “Pete has been around coaching and playing for just as long as I have, and I think that’s the thing that helped us win. We knew how to play as a team.”

Roscia and Murray qualified for the national event, which involved approximately 20 teams, by winning the championship in the Florida state division competition — where the doubles teams that finish among the top three earn berths in the national tournament.

“She’s very knowledgeable about tennis, and she is a very good player,” Roscia said of Murray.

The two won a championship in the mixed doubles for players ages 60-and-over in the World Team Tennis Nationals last year and entered this year’s National Senior Games mixed doubles tournament as the second-seeded team.

“I figured that we had a good shot,” Roscia said. “The championship match was very competitive — even in the first game that we lost.”

Roscia — who is married and is the father of three grown sons — leads an extremely active life. He plays tennis three days per week, works out at a gymnasium at least five days a week and coaches a women’s tennis team.

“I’m still in pretty good shape,” Roscia said.

Roscia comes from very good lineage. His mother, Kay, recently celebrated her 100th birthday, and his father, Frank, will celebrate his 100th birthday in August. Both still live together in Altoona.

Roscia is retired from basketball officiating after a long career calling games in both the Women’s National Basketball Association and at the college level. He has also served as a long-time statistician for the National Basketball Association’s Miami Heat.

Roscia also qualified for the National Senior Games men’s doubles tournament this past May, where his playing partner was Roger Bell — father of former NBA veteran player Raja Bell.

Next year’s National Senior Games mixed doubles event will be held in Pittsburgh, where Roscia and Murray will both consider a defense of the title that they won this spring.

“I think we should try to defend our title,” Roscia said. “We have a reason to go there and play.”

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