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USTA Florida Regional Round-up -- August 2009

July 23, 2009 07:00 AM
Two Local High Schools Send Teams to State Chps.

By Kelly Tucker

The Leon High School girls team, consisting of Megan Kolman, Andrea Caspary, Sarah Proctor, Kim McClure, and Catherine Chick, and the Maclay boys team, consisting of Will Gandy, Chris Perrigan, Brett Landau, Will Baldock, and Marco Cognetta, were the only local area high schools to advance to the state championships held in the Orlando area.  

In order to advance to the state championships, high school teams have to win both district and regional match play. Individual players on a team at the No. 1 position can also advance to the state championships by winning at both the district and regional level, and only if their team doesn't advance. The Maclay boys team advanced to the state competition for the seventh straight year, and this year finished in 6th place at state, while the Leon High School girls finished 4th. 

Catherine Chick, who plays No. 5 for Leon High School, made it all the way to the finals before losing to a player from Martin County. Kim McClure, who plays No. 4 for Leon High School lost in the semis in a close three-set match to the top-seeded player from Tampa. Sarah Proctor and Andrea Caspary advanced to the finals at the No. 2 doubles position before losing in a close match to girls from Plant City.

Kevin Record, Leon High School tennis coach, said that in his seven years as head coach, this was the first time that a No. 2 doubles team made it all the way to the finals at the state level. He added that "this will go down as one of the best doubles teams ever." The Maclay boys all lost their first-round matches, but the doubles team of Will Gandy and Brett Landau at No. 1 reached the semifinals at state, losing to the top seeds in a very close three-set match.  

In individual match play at state, Josh Record of Leon High School made it to the quarterfinals at the No. 1 position before losing to the No. 3 seed from South Florida. Josh also teamed up in doubles with Thomas O'Steen at the No. 1 position and lost in the semifinals to the No. 1 seed from Ft. Myers. Macie Wilkins of Maclay qualified for state at the No. 1 position but lost in the second round. She and Stephanie Kurgatt qualified at the No. 1 doubles position but also lost in the first round.

The Girls 2A state runner-up Gulf Breeze team
Area High Schools Successful at State Tournament

By Scott Harrison

Emerald Coast High School tennis had never before been as well represented at the Florida State High School Tennis Championships than in 2009. Both the girls 1A South Walton Seahawks of Santa Rosa Beach and girls 2A Gulf Breeze Dolphins were runners-up for their respective state titles. Neither the Seahawks nor the Dolphins lost a match in the regionals.

Also making the state tournament were the boys 2A Gulf Breeze and 3A Pensacola Washington teams, and Crestview's Moya Moore who won the 3A Girls No. 1 singles. The Washington boys finished 5th while the Gulf Breeze Boys finished 7th. Moore won a round in the individual singles tournament.

Several outstanding performances accounted for the two girls' teams' runner-up finishes. South Walton's No. 1 singles player, Alexa Guarachi, seeded No. 2, downed top-seeded Jamie Yapp-Shing of Ransom Everglades 5-7, 6-2, 6-1. Guarachi then defeated Out of Door Academy's Caroline Dailey 6-2, 6-0 to win the overall 1A singles title. South Walton made four of the five singles finals, including Alexandra Alford at No. 2, Jacqueline March at No. 3 and Brooke Durdon at No. 4. Katelynn Marcum played No. 5 for the Seahawks.

In the Gulf Breeze girls' run at the 2A title, No. 1-seeded Jackie Kasler won her final 6-1, 7-5 over Julie Sabacinski of American Heritage (Plantation). At No. 2 singles, Jennifer Pfeifler, seeded No. 2, downed top-seeded Ekaterina Kiseleva of American Heritage (Plantation) 6-1, 1-0 ret. (injury). Kasler and Pfeifler also won the No. 1 doubles title defeating American Heritage's Sabacinski and Alexandra Kiick 6-2, 6-3. Unfortunately, the other Lady Dolphins couldn't add any points from players Alianna Gilmartin, Zoe Miller and Lauren Halstead.

Kasler and Pfeifler also won the overall doubles title for the second straight year defeating Leah Fried and Lindsay Graff of Pine Crest (Ft. Lauderdale) 6-2, 6-2. That was the first ever back-to-back overall doubles titles for any Emerald Coast High School team.

Washington's No. 5 player John Nowak made the finals in his team's competition. Other Washington Boys team members included Will Neuner, Aston Cothran, Olin Racine and Keegan Lowery.

The Gulf Breeze Boys team members included AJ Anastopoulo, Clay Pfeifler, Constantine Anastopoulo, Stefan Harper, Scott Jaffee and James Martin.

USTA Jacksonville Meeting; Amelia Hires New Director

By Rick Vach

The JACKSONVILLE tennis community came together in May when the University of North Florida hosted the Jacksonville-area Community Tennis Meeting, with tennis advocates from the four-county First Coast area (Nassau, Clay, Duval and St. Johns counties) invited to hear the latest statistics on tennis in Florida and the nation, and to participate in a Q&A with USTA Florida Executive Director Doug Booth. Discussion included getting all the local leagues on the same page in terms of organization and number of teams, and increasing the number of area tournament opportunities.

The same week also also saw a quarterly meeting of the Northeast Florida Tennis Advisory Council (NEFTAC), a regional body comprised of city, school district, coordinators, charity and other high-level organizational tennis advocates that seek to improve opportunities for tennis in Jacksonville and the surrounding counties. Action items on the NEFTAC agenda currently include introducing the South Florida PAL (Police Athletic League) tennis program to the area via NEFTAC member Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford, and an effort to renovate a dilapidated tennis facility in the MAYPORT area.

The AMELIA ISLAND Plantation lost a tennis tournament in the former WTA Tour Bausch & Lomb Championships, but it gained a valuable resource when it named Kelly Gunterman director of tennis. His Gunterman Tennis Schools have been a long-time fixture at the resort and in the New England area. "We've served Floridians and tourists at the resort since 2002, and we're thrilled to align in a bigger way with this award-winning resort and the people who run it," the 25-year teaching pro said.

May was a big month for the MaliVai Washington Kids Foundation, with the Verizon Wireless Kids for Kids Carnival on the 16th, and the year-end Sponsor BBQ on the 29th. The Kids Carnival included inflatables and games, arts and crafts and tennis clinics, while the Sponsor BBQ honored the student sponsors, and also included tennis and games for sponsors and their students. For info on volunteering on getting involved call (904) 359-5437.

The Jacksonville Mandarin Middle School Community Tennis program was also honored as a "Top 50 Tennis Welcome Center" for delivering a variety of tennis programs to new and current players of all ages in efforts to increase participation in the game. The honor was awarded by the Tennis Industry Association.

"The staff at Mandarin Middle School Community Tennis has created a positive tennis experience for people in the Jacksonville area," says Jolyn de Boer, executive director of the Tennis Industry Association.

Region 3 Sends Most Super Seniors to Nationals

By Nancy Morgan

Region 3 sent three teams (the state's most from any region) to represent Florida in the 2008 USTA Super Senior National Championships. Polk County's 7.0 women and Pinellas' 8.0 women joined the Pinellas 9.0 men in Surprise, Ariz., for the national title quest.

Pinellas' 8.0 women advanced to the semifinal round and finished fourth overall. Players at nationals included captain Hank Skoczen, Sharon Carlile, Ria Graham, Susan Hobbs, Marion Murch, Kay Clark, Barbara Nicoll, Barbara Brutus and Deb McCleery. 

Polk 7.0 women and Pinellas 9.0 men both finished third in their flight.
"It was a really great experience at nationals, and the competition was tough, although the playoffs in Florida are also tough," said Wanda Crocker, Polk's team captain. "At nationals, though, it's the best of the best and we were all pretty equal. The whole experience was unbelievable."

Joining Wanda on the Polk squad were Joanne Collier, Jean Pride, Lea Simmons, Marilyn Pletcher, Glenda Chambers, Georgianna Sorenson and Trilla Richardson.

Pinellas' 9.0 squad consisted of captain Ron Massey, Bill Christensen, Terry Payton, Rich Bruer, Ralph Howe and Mark Rosenfeld.
Region 3 will send two teams to the 2009 USTA Super Senior National Championships. Pinellas 8.0 men from the Treasure Island Tennis and Yacht Club outplayed the state competition. Players include captain John Rensch and teammates Barry Schollenberger, Ed Hamilton, Leon Kennedy, Nga Duong, Donald Mathias, Andris Cakarnis, Don Wheeler and Hank Houser.  

"All through the tournament, there were no weak sisters," Rensch said. "We beat the first team 3-0, they turned around and beat another team 2-1 and then all our matches went 2-1. The equality of play made our victory all the more rewarding."

A Pinellas-based 9.0 men's team will represent Florida after having no challengers at the state level.

JUNIORS: As the summer national tournaments heat up, Region 3 girls to watch include Alex Cercone, Danielle Collins and Becky Bodine (Girls 18); Becky Bodine and Julia Jones (16); Julia Jones (14); Rianna Valdes and Anastasia Nefedova (10). Keep an eye on Top 10 state-ranked boys Connor Smith and Alex Domijan (18); Garrett Betsarakis (16); Dan Stefan (12); and Mason Beiler and Noah Makarome (10). 

Tennis Players "Pay it Forward"

By Susie Rahimitabar

The expression "pay it forward" is the concept of asking that a good turn be repaid by doing a good turn for another person.  The end-of-league season is a time that most players, being grateful to be healthy and able to play this sport, look for opportunities to "pay it forward."
Many local leagues in Region 4 do this by raising funds for charities they feel passionate about. This year the "C" Division of WAIT (Women's Amateur Invitational Tennis) League sold out all the raffle tickets to raise $10,000 at their end-of-the-year banquet. Tickets were a chance to win baskets donated by each of the teams with a minimum value of $100 each. Paula Gibson, banquet chair, said that most baskets were worth much more and one team, Errol Estates C-1, put together a basket worth over $1,000, including a vacation at Hammock Beach Resort. The League also had a fundraiser in January that collected over $4,000. The A/B Division of WAIT League, in similar manner,  raised close to $5,000 that went to charity.

The GOLD (Greater Orlando Ladies Doubles) League, rather than buying the first three teams in two divisions awards, allows winners to pick which charity will receive a donation. This year they donated $1,500 to nine different charities.

Tennis players are very generous people, and teaching professionals donate certificates for lesson for many worthy events. Kevin Barnes is a tennis players/teaching pro who gives back by paying forward his knowledge of the sport to many kids who would never be able to afford the lessons otherwise. Kevin does this by coordinating a tennis program at Orlando Tennis Center for 29 kids at the Callahan School in the downtown area.

Marcelo Gouts of MG Tennis and his staff of teaching pros including Maxsy Jimenez visit the Edgewood Boys Ranch (www.edgewoodranch.org) to teach lessons as well as to bring over clothing and supplies. Maxsy said that as a child in Venezuela a local teaching pro noticed him as a kid with potential and trained him for years. He later was told by his father that the pro never charged his family a dime. Maxsy said he was given a gift that he feels the need to pass on. Someday maybe one of those kids will pay it forward, too. 

Kanzer Helps Build Adult 3.5 League

By Laura Toth
It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child. The same could be said for running a successful USTA League season. A league coordinator, captains, players, tennis directors, committees, and league directors are all involved in running a successful league. In some cases one of these individuals steps up and contributes beyond the necessary requirements to help the league be successful.

One such individual that helped make the Treasure Coast Adult League's success during 2009 was Gary Kanzer. Gary, captain of one of the Martin Downs Sports Resort's 3.5 Men Adult teams this year, recruited most of the players on both of Martin Down's 3.5 Men's teams. 

Gary started playing tennis 15 years ago while living in Georgia. He enjoyed playing ALTA (Atlanta Lawn Tennis Association) so much and it had become such a large part of his social life that when he relocated to Florida after a stop in Colorado, he went looking for something similar to ALTA and found USTA Florida. His first team was out of the Buttonwood Tennis Club in Jensen Beach. He signed up to play on a 3.5 Men's team and when no one stepped up to captain the team, Gary volunteered and took the team to Daytona Beach for regionals. The next year saw the same result. 

In 2009 Gary decided to play closer to home at Martin Downs, which had undergone a change in ownership and improvements. Through his network of friends, Gary helped increase participation in the men's weekly Monday night league, including his efforts with the USTA teams. Gary's 2009 team also won the local league and advanced to regionals. But advancing to regionals is a great afterthought for Gary. He enjoys playing USTA so much that he wants to share that experience with as many other tennis players as possible. He looks forward to meeting new people and building friendships during the season.

"I want to give someone else the opportunity to have as good a time as I have having," Gary said.

Thank you Gary for helping the local league coordinator increase team participation in the Men's 3.5 league by 50%!

Senior Sectionals: A Tale of Three Teams

By Barbara Eisner Bayer

There's a turning point in everyone's life that begins by receiving an unsolicited AARP card in the mail. It generally comes at a time when your tennis bag begins to bulge under the added weight of knee braces, ace bandages, bottles of Advil, and tubes of BenGay. But to many USTA players, turning 50 marks the beginning of a new phase -- the ability to play senior league tennis.

For three Region 8 teams -- the men and women's 4.5 teams and the men's 3.5 team -- it meant a trip to the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach from May 1-3, to join 373 USTA players from throughout the state to compete in the Senior Sectionals for the title of state champion.

The men's 4.5 team from Woodmont Country Club, captained by Londi Romero, savored the sweet smell of success and captured the state title. Blessed with four former college players, this team loves post-season play, because they like to dig down to find their strength. 

"When you get to this age, you hope that your BAND-AIDs and analgesics kick in so that you can make it through the whole tournament," Romero said. "After the matches, we sit around in our hot tubs, trying to recover, and evaluate our performance." 

The 4.5 women's team from North Miami Dade, captained by Rose Haney, captured second place. Considering that they were hampered by the inability of one of their top players -- the legendary Donna Fales, who ranked in the USTA Top 10 for six years in the 1960's -- to attend, and Haney's bout with the flu, they were pleased with their showing. According to the captain, they're already recruiting for next year, when they'll be strong enough to capture the state crown. 

"It was a great experience," Haney said. "Next year, more players from our 4.5 team will move to the 'proper' age."

Also enjoying the mixed pleasure of being a finalist was the men's 3.5 team from Grove Isle, captained by Pete Roscia. No stranger to post-season play, this team has graced the sectionals "eight or nine times" during the past 10 years, according to Roscia.

What advice do the state champions have for other tournament-bound players? Romero's team is preparing for Nationals by taking "a couple of more cocktail hours." And nobody on this team ever gets carded.

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