Conine captures gold, silver medals; Oriole and his wife win mixed 25-and-over doubles


Orioles first baseman Jeff Conine won gold and silver medals at the Eketelon 32nd U.S. National Doubles Championships yesterday at Merritt Athletic Club.

Conine and his wife, Cindy, a former U.S. national team member, topped Dale Valentine and Sallie Benedict, 15-11, 15-10, in the final of the mixed 25-and-over division.

Conine and Steve Lerner lost in straight sets to John Kleinschmidt and Chris Wright, 15-10, 15-7, in the men's 30-and-over division.

"We were mainly playing in this to have a good time and see some friends, and we ended up doing well. We had a good weekend," Jeff Conine said.

"The best part was getting to see some friends that we haven't seen in a long time. We haven't been at one of these things in a while, so it was good to get to see everybody. It's nice to catch up on old times."

Conine and Lerner fell behind 13-6 in the first game against Kleinschmidt and Wright, then pulled within 13-10 before losing, 15-10. Conine and Lerner had taken a 6-3 lead in the second game before being outscored 12-1.

"We were really pumped up for this match," Wright said. "It was really in our blood. We were riding high from last night's [Saturday's] big victory over [top seeds and defending champions Michael] Bronfeld and [Drew] Kachtik. That really got us going. We just clicked from there on."

The Conines will return to their Florida home, where Jeff, who is eligible to become a free agent at the end of the month, will wait to see where he'll be playing baseball in 2000.

"We're just kind of hanging out and seeing what kind of offers come our way," he said. "We're going to see which is the best one. There are a lot of considerations for our family to make. We'll see which one is best."

In other events, Mike Guidry and Ruben Gonzalez won the men's open title by defeating Adam Karp and Andy Roberts, 13-15, 15-14, 11-3. Robin Levine and Kim Russell won the women's open. (Selected results, 14D)

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