Adult Leagues Adult Tournaments Junior Tournaments Jr. Team Tennis Learn more


December 7, 2007 01:51 PM

Bobby Curtis Junior Tournament of the Year - Serendipity Super Series Classic

Accepting the Award, Winston Owen
“Better Together”

By utilizing a “together we accomplish more” philosophy at the Serendipity Super Series Classic held at the Serendipity Racquet Club in Sarasota, the 220 junior players who participated in the tournament were treated to a first-class event in every conceivable way. The tournament, which was overseen by Winston Owen, who serves as director of Tennis at Serendipity Racquet club, ran seamlessly thanks in part to head referee Carol Ruffati and her team of six referees that were ubiquitous sights at the courts each day. In addition to first-rate umpiring, music was played at the beginning of each match contested on the stadium court to add a fun flair to the proceedings. In addition to receiving championship trophies, players were given tournament t-shirts and were awarded special medals for outstanding sportsmanship and attitude in each division.

Junior Competitive Coach of the Year

Maria Cercone of North Seminole

“Marvelous Maria!”

Maria Cercone, who has served as tennis director at the Bardmoor Golf and Tennis Club for the past decade, is definitely a woman who knows how to get results. From her successful junior career to her phenomenal accomplishments as a tennis coach and USTA Florida volunteer, Maria continues to be a paragon of professionalism. In a coaching career that stretches back nearly two decades, Maria has played an active role in serving USTA Florida and its junior players by coaching a range of events that includes the 12 Zonals, 16 Zonals, 18 Intersectionals, and Mills Redgrave Challenge. She also coached the USTA Florida High Performance Camps from 1996-2002 and acted as head coach of the USTA Suncoast Area Training Center from 1991 through 2001. Maria, who previously won the USTA Florida Coach of the Year Award in 1995 and was a deserving Merit Award recipient in 1994, also donates her time to a number of sectional and national committees that includes the USTA Florida National Coaches Commission and the USTA National Competitive Youth and Training Committee.

Albert Carrington Balink Award

Lauren Embree of Marco Island
“Teen Queen”

Lauren Embree is clearly the cream of the crop when it comes to her on-court success in both Florida and national junior tournaments. When she was just 10 years old, Lauren won her first major singles title by triumphing at the USTA Florida State Closed Girls’ 10 Championships?and the victories have been accruing ever since. Currently ranked number one in Florida and number three nationally in the Girls’ 18 division, Lauren amassed an impressive 50-8 won/loss singles record in 2007 and racked up quality results in both singles and doubles throughout the year. A former Easter Bowl and three-time USTA Florida State Closed Sectional Championship winner, Lauren added to her trophy case in 2007 by capturing the Tennis Plaza Cup singles title and reaching the finals at the USTA National Clay Court Championships and USTA Winter National Championships. Throughout the course of her career, she has earned 20 national balls?8 gold, 9 silver, and 3 bronze.

Albert Carrington Balink Award

Allie Will of Boca Raton
“Making Her Dreams Come True”

The past 12 months have been extremely successful ones for Allie Will, who captured the Orange Bowl Junior Championships Girls’ 16 title in December 2006 and added to her collection of trophy hardware by winning the Academy Super Series event in July. In addition to posting a semifinal finish at the Easter Bowl earlier this year, Allie has been testing the waters of the USTA and ITF junior circuits, reaching the singles semifinals in a South Carolina event and the doubles semifinals at an event in Evansville, Indiana. “Tennis, my parents, and my coaches have given me the opportunity to channel my competitive spirit to pursue my dream to become a successful professional tennis player” Allie explained. “I am truly thankful for the opportunities I have had and hope to have in the future.”

Al Mills Memorial Adult Tournament of the Year

Les Grande Dames at BallenIsles
Accepting the Award, Trish Faulkner
“Exceeding Expectations”

Exceeding expectations is something the Les Grandes Dames tournament, which is held at the BallenIsles Country Club in Palm Beach Gardens, has been doing since its inception 13 years ago. In fact, the competitors exemplify what the sport of tennis is all about-a game for all ages, abilities, and economic levels. This year, 168 players participated in the event, many of who were able to benefit from the generosity of BallenIsles members who graciously opened their homes and willingly gave up their courts and locker rooms to host the players. The tournament, which offers $6,000 in prize money for age divisions ranging from 30 to 90 in both singles and doubles, also hosts an official player party that features a theme dinner dance with $1,000 in door prizes. Off the courts, the players help raise money each year for the tournament’s official charity, which varies from year to year. Thanks to its loyal and benevolent mix of players, sponsors, and members, the Les Grande Dames tournament is a fitting choice to receive the 2007 Al Mills Memorial Adult Tournament of the Year Award.

Wheelchair Player of the Year

D.W. Green of Tallahassee

“In God We Trust”

D.W. Green, who says that tennis is his first love, began his love affair with the game in 2004. Since then, his accomplishments on the court have been impressive and served as an inspiration to both wheelchair and able-bodied players. D.W., who was born with spina bifida, progressed so quickly in the sport that he was accepted as a member of the varsity tennis team at Godby High School, earning the right to compete in the number four position?and becoming the only wheelchair player on the team. D.W., who reached number two in the USTA Men’s Wheelchair C rankings based on tournaments victories like the one he racked up earlier this year at the Cajun Classic, is now playing in the Men’s Wheelchair B division and has already reached a number 32 national ranking in that category. Despite the challenges life has placed in his path, D.W. has positively channeled his energy into the lifetime sport and harbors the dream of one day sharing his passion for tennis with others by becoming a tennis instructor.

Female Player of the Year

Betty Wachob of Panama City

“B A Winner”

Over the past 16 years, Betty Wachob has reached an impressive 27 national championship finals, winning 7 titles and placing third 10 times. That consistency was in evidence again in 2007 when Betty held the number two ranking in the USTA Florida Women’s 60s and added more hardware to her trophy collection. In the summer, Betty captured the USTA National Women’s 60 Grass Court Championships and finished runner-up in the doubles event. She also won the USTA National Clay and Hard Court Women’s 60 doubles titles and racked up third-place and runner-up singles results in those respective tournaments. Betty, who reached the finals of two Sunshine State Les Grandes Dames events in 2007, was recently honored for her tennis achievements when she was inducted into the Bay High School Sports Hall of Fame. She was also chosen to play on the 2007 Alice Marble Cup in Christchurch, New Zealand, which took place in November.

Male Player of the Year

Larry Turville of Dunnellon

“The Dominator”

Winning is something that has been a happy habit for Larry Turville for many decades. In 1966, Larry was the top-ranked junior in the USTA Florida Boys’ 16s; today, he sits atop that familiar perch in both the Florida’s Men’s 55 division and in the national USTA Men’s 55 standings. 2007 has been a particularly good year for Larry, who won the Naples Bath and St. Petersburg Category II Championships as well as two East Coast tournaments that earned him the number one spot in the Super Senior Grand Prix rankings. How adept his Larry at winning? Consider this: Over the past four years, he has remained undefeated in Florida Super Seniors Circuit Play. In 2007 alone, he has won nine sectional or national tournaments (posting a gaudy 35-0 record), and successfully defended his title at the USTA Men’s 55 Clay Court Championships. His success, however, extends far beyond America’s borders, which is evidenced by the number two world ranking he achieved in 2007 based on quality results like his runner-up finish at the World Championships in Turkey.

USTA League Tennis Coordinator of the Year

Linda Meehan of St. Petersburg

“It’s All in the Details”

When Linda Meehan first moved to southern Pinellas County, her club’s sole mixed doubles activity consisted of a monthly social event. However, because she craved more mixed doubles interaction, Linda took it upon herself to organize a group of 8.0 level players to compete against each other every week. Apparently news of her achievement traveled fast because before she knew it, Linda had been tapped to be the new local league coordinator for mixed doubles in the area. At the time when she became the new LLC in 2005, there were only a few teams playing?once a year in seniors and once a year in the adult division. Using her powers of persuasion and coordination, she began adding additional seasons while also managing to increase the levels the county offered from three to seven. Thanks to her determination, the league now features levels ranging from 6.0 all the way up to 10.0. Over the past two years, she also managed to create some new hybrid leagues to assure that even more players could join in on the fun. Most impressive, however, is the fact that she has been able to grow the mixed leagues in Pinellas County from 274 players in 2005 to almost 1,000 participants in 2007.


> Back to 2007 USTA Florida Awards






Print Article Email Article Newsletter Signup Share