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Florida Tennis Briefs(2): Guardian Angels; Newman Profile

November 17, 2011 09:08 AM
Guardian Tennis Angels

By Barbara Eisner Bayer, TennisLife-Florida Region 8 (North Gold Coast) columnist

region 8-andrea
Andrea Steinacker
Did you know that tennis can change the world?

Well, maybe not the whole world. But it can change the worlds of a few thousand abused and neglected children in Dade County through the Voices for Children Foundation. Each year, a tennis tournament fundraiser is held in Key Biscayne's Crandon Park. The money raised supports the "Guardian ad Litem" program, which provides advocates in court to protect the rights of these children, who have been removed from their parents' homes because they've been abused, abandoned, or neglected.

According to Nelson Hincapie, president and CEO of Voices for Children, there were 3,218 Dade County children in foster care at the beginning of August, but only about two-thirds had a guardian to represent them. Although the state has a mandate that says that every child in dependency should have a court-appointed Guardian ad Litem, it's an under-funded mandate. The goal of the organization is to get each child represented.

The tournament was the brainchild of Andrea Steinacker, a financial advisor with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney and an avid tennis player, who has been on the board of the foundation for the past 13 years. She thought of the tournament nine years ago, because it was a way for tennis players to give back to the community, while simultaneously learning about the cause.

The tournament, which occurs every October, is a round robin doubles format for men, women, and mixed. During the past nine years, the group has raised closed to $70,000 for the cause.

The tennis community has also contributed by participating in the foundation's annual bowling event. In addition to raising money, the players have expanded their participation in a much more important way -- many of them have become volunteer guardians themselves.

The organization has a second mission, as well -- they fund social needs, like free gift cards for uniforms and back-to-school supplies, which these unfortunate kids might not otherwise have access to.

"Being a guardian gives me the opportunity to do what I love," says Steinacker, who's been one for 13 years. "It gives me the satisfaction of knowing that a child has one person in his life who's consistent, and who will always be in his corner. That one person can make a total difference to that child forever."

That's a world that all tennis players can get their rackets behind.

USTA Florida Photo Op: Spencer Newman

By Colette Lewis, TennisLife-Florida columnist

photo op-NewmanUSTAFlaSpencer Newman made his final Kalamazoo a memorable one, taking the consolation tournament in August's USTA Boys 18s National Championships. As a result of winning the full feed-in tournament, Newman claimed a fifth-place finish among the 192 competitors.

Newman, an 18-year-old from Miami, began his collegiate career at the University of Florida in January, going 11-8 at the No. 5 and 6 positions, and helping the Gators to the SEC tournament title and a season-ending ranking of ninth in the nation.

Due to injuries, Newman was playing in his first Kalamazoo since 2008, and as the No. 14 seed, reached the fifth round, where he lost to No. 8 seed Alexios Halebian 7-6(2), 1-6, 6-2.

Newman was able to avenge that loss in the consolation finals however, taking a 6-1, 7-5 decision from the 17-year-old Californian, who trains with the USTA at its National Center in Boca Raton.

With a 10-2 record during the week in singles and doubles competition, Newman will enter his sophomore year at Florida with renewed confidence and fond memories of an outstanding performance in his final appearance at the prestigious junior event.
Photo: zootennis.com






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