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Florida Tennis Briefs(2): Jrs. on National Team; Miami, West Palm Beach Grants

January 12, 2012 09:51 PM
Florida's Black, Mmoh to Represent U.S. at Elite 14-U European Tennis Events

tornado black
Alicia "Tornado Ali" Black
Thirteen-year-old Alicia "Tornado Ali" Black of Boca Raton and 14-year-old Michael Mmoh of Bradenton will be part of the U.S. teams selected by the USTA for two elite 14-and-under events in Europe: the AEGON Junior International, held in Bolton, England, Jan. 16-22; and Les Petits As, held in Tarbes, France, Jan. 23-29. 

The events annually feature some of the world's best players aged 14-and-under. A number of former Les Petits As champions have gone on to become No. 1 in the world, including Rafael Nadal, Kim Clijsters and Martina Hingis. 

In 2011, Florida's Stefan Kozlov of Pembroke Pines defeated fellow American Henrik Wiersholm to win the AEGON Junior International title for the second consecutive year, and a week later Wiersholm joined Michael Chang as an American Les Petits As champion, becoming the first American boy to win Les Petits As since Donald Young in 2005. Bethanie Mattek-Sands is among other Americans to have captured titles at Les Petits As, while Lindsay Davenport was a finalist in 1990.    

Other boys representing the U.S. will be William Blumberg, 13, Greenwich, Conn.; Nathan Ponwith, 13, Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Francis Tiafoe, 13, College Park, Md. Other girls representing the U.S. will be Nicole Frenkel, 13, Winchester, Mass.; Emma Higuchi, 13, Los Angeles; and Raquel Pedraza, 13, Claremont, Calif.

The players will be accompanied by USTA Lead National Coach for Men's Tennis Ricardo Acuna, and USTA National Coach for Women's Tennis Sylvain Guichard.

Mmoh, the boys' 12s champion at the 2010 Junior Orange Bowl, spent much of 2011 competing overseas. He reached the final in back-to-back events in Portugal in June, winning one title, and also reached the semifinals of an ITF World Junior Circuit 18-and-under event in Saudi Arabia in October. 

Black won the girls' 16s title at the 2011 Eddie Herr and reached the girls' 14s title at the 2011 Junior Orange Bowl. She trains full-time at the USTA Training Center-Headquarters in Boca Raton, Fla., and is currently No. 27 in the USTA Girls' 14s National Standings. 

"Tornado is a very mature girl with imposing physical stature, a lot of strength and power and incredible fight," Eddie Herr Tournament Director Rick Workman told ESPN. "She went through the entire Eddie Herr draw and lost only one set. We think she is a very unique player who has what it takes to not only be on the pro tour but to be a top pro."

ESPN's Lindsay Berra wrote in December, "The fact that Black has a younger sister, Hurricane, who is also a talented prospect, has lead the pair to be dubbed the next Venus and Serena Williams. Although that classification may be a bit premature, Black's physical style of play certainly brings the Williams sisters to mind...There is, as one might imagine, a story behind the girls' unique names. Tornado's given name is Alicia, but when she was 2 years old, she already was hitting the ball so hard and so powerfully that she was given the nickname Tornado. It stuck. A few months before Tornado's third birthday, Tyra Hurricane -- that is her given name -- was born. But the girls always have been known, both with family and friends and on tournament draw sheets, as Tornado Ali and Hurricane Tyra. So, it's safe to say, storms are brewing in South Florida."

Miami, West Palm Beach Among 41 USTA Serves Community Tennis Grants

mediawall-USTA ServesThe Dade County Sports Foundation in Miami, Fla., and the Kids and Police Tennis Association (KAPTA) in West Palm Beach, Fla., were among 41 community tennis and education grants totaling more than $400,000 announced by USTA Serves, the national charitable foundation of the United States Tennis Association national body.

The bi-annual grant process, a national initiative of USTA Serves, was developed to provide disadvantaged, at-risk children with the opportunity to learn to play tennis and improve their academic skills in a structured format, and to help combat childhood obesity by promoting healthy lifestyles. To date, USTA Serves has awarded more than $10 million to a variety of programs that share those aims.

"USTA Serves is thrilled to continue to support great organizations throughout the country who go above and beyond in their efforts to make a difference in the lives of America's youth by using tennis as a vehicle for change," says Mary Carillo, Naples, Fla., resident and president of USTA Serves. "These organizations share our belief that tennis, combined with education, can have a lasting effect on the lives of children and help pave the way to a brighter future. It's an honor to support such organizations, and we applaud them in their efforts."

The grant recipients are chosen by a Grant Proposal Review Committee comprised of USTA Serves board members and USTA national staff, with important input from USTA sections. Grants are awarded to programs that successfully combine tennis and education and help children pursue their goals and highest dreams by leading healthier lives, succeeding in school and becoming healthier citizens.

Dade County Sports Foundation -- www.dadecountysportsfoundation.org
Kids and Police Tennis Association (KAPTA) -- http://kapta.lockerdome.com/

For more information on USTA Serves go to www.usta.com/foundation.






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