@Kari: Thank you for the pointer. It's not exposed in the GUI, but the command line switch can even use a YYYYMMDD date. This will greatly simplify my first step.
@logicearth: Yes, I read your other posts. Unfortunately it seems a number of folks continue to struggle with this problem, so it keeps coming up. I do not believe it is a virus issue based on my experience detailed below.
This behavior was consistent with me, costing me several days of frustration and research, and resulted in my post above. This morning I read on the WinZip site that they only certify their versions 14+ for Windows 7. Since I have been using WinZip 11.2, I downloaded and installed version 15 (the newest). Suddenly the problem disappeared.
In an effort to track down the source of the problem, I uninstalled all the various tools I have tried to use for workarounds, including purging my machine of all flavors of WinZip. Then I re-installed WinZip 11.2 from its MSI file. Things still appear to be functioning as expected. I can only say that I originally installed WinZip 8.0 here before realizing it would not actually run under Windows 7, and then installed WinZip 11.2 afterwards. So, perhaps something in that sequence caused the behavior shift.
As for SVN -- yes, I would prefer to use something other than zip files for my audit trail. Right now that's a couple of steps down the road, and the exact reason I upgraded to Windows 7 for my (new) primary machine. The old WinXP box will be converted to Linux Mint with PostgreSQL and SVN. But that won't happen tomorrow, as I have a day job, so I need to continue my interim processes. And I will still want a sparse directory for the FTP upload.
Anyway, thank you both for your replies, and I hope the description of my experience here will benefit others who are having the same issues.