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2004 USA Tennis Florida Awards - COMPETITIVE DIVISION

December 22, 2004 07:55 AM

Bobby Curtis Junior Tournament of the Year
This award is presented to an event which has shown excellent qualities in all facets of tournament administration including; accommodations for players, draw and seeding procedures, scheduling, court conditions and adherence to junior tournament regulations.

Accepting – Janice Smith
First Coast Tennis Foundation Designated Tournament

“ First Coast Defeats Hurricane Charley”

When Hurricane Charley came barreling toward Florida in mid-August, coordinators of the First Coast Tennis Foundation Designated were forced into a wait-and-see mode to see if the tournament would even be able to be held. Charley’s wrath eventually spared the Jacksonville area; unfortunately, many residents throughout other regions of the state weren’t so lucky. After weighing their options, tournament coordinators decided to delay the event’s start by a day and hold the event. Despite the havoc created by the hurricane, 248 players from across the state—including many from Florida’s hardest hit communities—turned out to support the tournament and ensure its success. Thanks to the quick-thinking coordination efforts of the First Coast Tennis Foundation and the five sites that graciously hosted this year’s event, not even Mother Nature was allowed to rain on this tournament’s proverbial parade.

Junior Competitive Coach of the Year
This award is given to a coach who has made notable contributions in junior competitive tennis and who has demonstrated leadership skills in such areas as instruction and organization and has been an inspiration to coaches , parents and players.

Don Petrine, Jr. of Miami
“Learning Life’s Lessons through Florida Junior Tennis”

Because he grew up during the golden age of Florida tennis in the 1960s and 70s, Don Petrine has always had a special place in his heart for junior tennis in the Sunshine State. Perhaps that explains why he has spent the past 25 years serving as a dedicated coach and teaching pro in the Miami area. Over the years, he has directed over 140 state and national tournaments, served as chairman of the Florida Coaches Commission, and devoted his time to USA Tennis Florida’s Junior Competitive Council. But it’s his work with a countless number of junior players that has earned him true acclaim and admiration. Don, who is a member of the Miami-Dade County Tennis Hall of Fame, has spent the past 20 years working as the head pro at the Royal Palm Tennis Club in Miami. Proof of his amazing coaching prowess is evidenced by the fact that 60 of his players have gone on to receive college scholarships. In 2004, Don continued to enhance his legacy when two of his players—Jennifer Stevens and Bradley Mixson—captured titles at the USA Tennis Florida State Closed Sectionals.

Albert Carrington Balink Award
This award is given to a junior player considered to have had the most outstanding full season performance in local, state, national and Florida Section team events and who most nearly approaches the ideal in sportsmanship, conduct and character.

Jennifer Stevens of Miami
“Who I Am”

2004 has been an exceedingly good year for 15-year-old Jennifer Stevens, who seems to be following in the famous footsteps of another Floridian tennis player named Jennifer. Over the past 12 months, Jennifer compiled a lofty 50-8 win-loss record and soared to the top of the Florida Girls’ 18 rankings. Her climb to the junior rankings summit was accomplished due to a string of stellar performances at a number of sectional and national tournaments. In a span of six months, Jennifer captured Girls’ 18 titles at the USTA National Opens, the Big Hitters Spring Sectionals, the USA Tennis Florida State Closed Sectionals, and the USTA National Clay Court Championships. She also won all four of her matches at the USTA Junior Federation Cup competition and ascended to the No. 1 national ranking in the USTA Girls’ 16s and No. 2 in the USTA Girls’ 18 division. In addition to her individual accomplishments, Jennifer has also been a staunch supporter of USA Tennis Florida junior team events. At this year’s USTA Boys’ and Girls’ 16 Intersectionals, Jennifer went undefeated to help lead the team to victory. Despite her numerous on-court successes, Jennifer remains a humble young woman who refuses to let tennis alone define who she is.

USA League Tennis Coordinator of the Year (1 of 3)
This award is given to a person(s) most deserving who through his/her efforts, willingness, cooperation, and participation worked for the betterment and furtherance of USA League Tennis programs.

Joanne Collier of Mulberry
"Nothing You Could Do Could Make Me Untrue to My Guys”

When Joanne Collier and her husband, Chuck, relocated to Florida in 1997, they immediately launched a search for competitive playing opportunities in their community. Although organized senior women’s tennis leagues were up and running, Joanne was surprised to learn that similar ones did not her exist for her husband. Being a woman of action, she quickly contacted District 14’s volunteer extraordinaire Dave Beerman to see what could be done to rectify the matter.  Seven years later, the results of Joanne’s efforts speak volumes about the drive and enthusiasm she possesses. During that time, she has served in numerous league leadership capacities, including overseeing the senior, super senior, super 70’s men’s, and women’s adult and super senior combo doubles.  During the most recent senior men’s league season, Joanne even improved participation by a whopping 69 percent. Still, despite her obvious accomplishments, Joanne graciously downplays her success by shifting credit to the area pros and players who have fully supported her efforts since the very beginning. According to Joanne, “We’re in the game of a lifetime together—because they’re simply the best!”

USA League Tennis Coordinator of the Year (2 of 3)

Linda Kleitch of Naples
“Cockeyed Optimist”

Since relocating to Florida in 1992, Linda Kleitch has made a significant contribution to the tennis landscape in her community. In her role as a USA league coordinator, she has done a laudable job of administering adult, adult mixed, senior, senior mixed, super senior, and super 70’s leagues. When Linda assumed this volunteer leadership role in 2002, she immediately made an impact by increasing league participation in a big way. By the end of her first year, approximately 600 new competitors had begun participating in the various leagues. In 2004, she masterminded yet another milestone with the establishment of a successful super 70’s league that featured 18 teams. For Linda, who also serves on a number of USA Tennis Florida committees, being a cockeyed optimist has served her—and tennis—quite well. “It is truly an honor to work for and with an organization whose only purpose is to develop and promote tennis in a fair and competitive way,” she stated. “I refuse to give up when confronted with adversity and totally believe that there is a way to solve situations and make everything better for everyone involved.”

USA League Tennis Coordinator of the Year (3 of 3)

Steve Manolis of Jacksonville
Moved away - Not able to attend.

Al Mills Memorial
Adult Tournament of the Year

This award is presented to the tournament which has shown excellent qualities in all facets of a tournament event including; accommodations for players, draw and seeding procedures, court conditions, scheduling, and adherence to tournament regulations.

Accepting – Andy Lake
Hawk’s Landing Senior Tournament
“The Eagle and the Hawk”

Calling the Hawk’s Landing Senior Tournament a success is actually a severe understatement— mainly because the event reached new heights of achievement and acclaim in 2004. According to Tournament Chairman Andy Lake, “We wanted everyone in the tournament to receive the same exemplary treatment—from the initial check-in to the different social functions—and let everyone know that we appreciated their participation and enjoyed their company.” The tournament, which is only in its second year of existence, earned a bevy of praise for its numerous player-friendly amenities. These included the availability of complimentary massage treatments, assorted social functions, and prize drawings for lucrative items such as tennis racquets and tickets to the NASDAQ-100 Open. The tournament also provided other appreciated touches such as snapping commemorative photos to serve as fond player mementos and sending thank-you notes to all event competitors.

Wheelchair Player of the Year
This award is given to the player considered to have had the most outstanding full season performance including, character, sportsmanship, and tennis ability. The award is based on sectional and national ranking history and involvement in competitive wheelchair tennis.

Jan Proctor of Delray Beach

“The Extinguisher”

In 1978, Jan Proctor experienced one of those split-second occurrences that forever alter a person’s life. While standing in her driveway, one of her legs was accidentally crushed between two cars, resulting in a broken femur and tibia, eight pelvic cracks, and numerous torn leg muscles. Following a lengthy recuperative period, Jan decided to take up tennis as a way to exercise and keep her legs strong. However, fate cruelly intervened again in 1991 when Jan was diagnosed with tissue cancer in the previously broken leg. What followed was yet another painful and prolonged ordeal that included chemical therapy, radiation—and the loss of two quad muscles in her thigh. In 1993, Jan made a triumphant return to the courts. But seven years later, an on-court tumble would re-injure the femur bone and cause Jan to undergo surgery to have a rod and pins inserted to hold the bone in place. After two years of intense recuperation, she heroically returned to the courts, only to break the same bone yet again. After conferring with her doctor, who advised her to give up the sport, she decided to investigate the possibility of taking up wheelchair tennis. In November 2003, this courageous competitor made her first foray into the world of wheelchair tennis, showcasing her trademark grit and determination. So it should come as no surprise that by the end of 2004, Jan had raced her way to No. 1 in the Florida Women’s Wheelchair A Singles division. “As you can tell,” remarked this amazing symbol of survival, “I really love the game and all that comes with it.”

Female Player of the Year
This award is given to the woman considered to have had the most outstanding full season performance including, character, sportsmanship, and tennis ability, as well as sectional and national ranking history and involvement in adult competitive tennis.

Carol Clay of Fort Lauderdale
“The Only Joy of Living is Giving”

Winning has become a happy habit for Carol Clay, who currently ranks No. 1 in singles and doubles in the Florida Women’s 55 singles and doubles standings. Her triumphant year, which included a victory at the Florida State Closed 55 Championships and a runner-up finish at the Les Grandes Dames Checket Cup, also featured yet another top 10 finish in the USTA adult/senior national rankings. Since 1990, Carol has maintained a top 10 national ranking in every division she has competed in. She also helped the United States win the Maureen Connolly Cup in 2001 when it was played in Perth, Australia, and has captained the Florida Intersectional 25, 35, and 45 teams to victory five teams since 1993. Beyond her on-court achievements, Carol has been a loyal USA Tennis Florida volunteer for numerous years, serving on committees ranging from ranking and sanctions and schedule to the Adult Competitive Council.

Male Player of the Year
This award is given to the man considered to have had the most outstanding full season performance including, character, sportsmanship, and tennis ability as well as sectional and national ranking history and involvement in adult competitive tennis.

Jeff Davis of Treasure Island
“The Long and Winding Road”

In 1968, Jeff Davis launched his competitive career when he began playing—and winning—junior tournaments. Fast forward several decades and you’ll find that an increase in age has done nothing to diminish his abilities or enthusiasm. Davis, who is currently ranked No. 2 in the Florida Men’s 45s, continued his strong play by capturing the Florida State Closed Men’s 45 Championships in 2003 and 2004. He also served as a member of the ACC Cup team, where he won both matches, and as a member of the USA Potter Cup contingent. In addition, Davis made a significant impression on the national level, where he reached the semifinals at the 2003 USTA National Men’s 45 Clay Court Championships and finished the year as the third-ranked player in the USTA Men’s 45s. For Davis, who also won the USA Tennis Florida Male Player of the Year Award in 1994, the Beatles’ song called “The Long and Winding Road” serves as a fitting metaphor for his life. “It reminds me that life is a journey; that we are all ‘afraid’ at times; that we all ‘feel alone’ at times,’” he explained. “But we never really are. And no matter what paths we take, ‘still they lead me home,’ to my friends, family, and the sport I love—tennis.”

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