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USTA Florida March Notes: McEnroe in Delray, Oudin in Florida

February 25, 2010 06:00 PM
A round-up of miscellaneous news, happenings, and previews of upcoming tennis events across the state of Florida:



Melanie Oudin (center) poses with juniors
(left to right:) Paul Gladstone, Collin West, Wade Booth,
Melanie Oudin, Lindsay Zieglar, Kristina Zieglar, and
Mira Gladstone

Orlando 14-year-old Stephen Watson has received a scholarship valued at $30,000 to go to school and train at the John Newcombe Tennis Ranch in New Braunfels, Tex., according to the Orlando Sentinel. As of February he was ranked No. 2 in Florida in the Boys 14s...

Nassam Shabaz of the University of Florida was named to the 2010 ITA National Men's Team Indoor Championships All-Tournament Team at the No. 6 singles position in February. On the women's side, Florida Gator Allie Will was named to the All-Tournament Team at the No. 2 singles spot...

ATLANTIC BEACH/JACKSONVILLE -- Selva Marina Country Club's Jacksonville Clay Court Championship will this year benefit the First Coast Tennis Foundation's Playing for Love Fund. The fifth annual Jacksonville Clay Court Championship will be held March 19-21, 2010, at Selva Marina Country Club in Atlantic Beach. This is the first time the tournament has partnered with the First Coast Tennis Foundation's Playing for Love Fund. Atlantic Beach City Commissioner Carolyn Woods founded the Playing for Love Fund, and its mission is to bring the love of tennis to underprivileged children throughout the Atlantic, Neptune and Jacksonville Beaches. "Over 16 kids are already receiving lessons at the Donner Park tennis courts," says Woods. "You should see their smiles, they love it!" The Playing for Love Fund has been instrumental in creating a series of free tennis clinics for children attending the Donner Community Center and Jordan Parks' after school programs in Atlantic Beach. To register for The Jacksonville Clay Court Championships go to www.firstcoasttennis.com and click on Jacksonville Clay Court button.

DAYTONA BEACH -- The 2010 Carter Electric METRO Daytona Beach Metropolitan Tennis Championships benefiting Tennis Xpress, which introduces tennis to 4th and 5th graders, will be held on March 13-14, 2010. All events are round robin, non-elimination format. Saturday schedule: 8:30 a.m.-noon -- Men's/Women's Doubles (2.5-3.0-3.5-4.0-4.5/Open); 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. -- Lunch; 2 p.m.-5:30 p.m. -- Family doubles events; Sunday schedule: 8:30 a.m.-noon -- Men's/Women's Singles (all levels), 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. -- Lunch. Entry fees include player gift, hospitality and awards. For more info e-mail daytonabeachtennis@codb.us.

JACKSONVILLE -- The MaliVai Washington Kids Foundation (MWKF) in Jacksonville became the first tennis organization to make use of a new grant from USTA Florida for putting permanent QuickStart Tennis lines on regular-size tennis courts for the use of smaller QuickStart nets. With the addition of QuickStart lines, one regular-size tennis court can be divided into four smaller courts, so up to 16 age 10-and-under children can play simultaneously. "I believe this may be the first set of permanent lines painted for QuickStart Tennis on hardcourts in the state of Florida," said USTA Florida Associate Executive Director Andy McFarland. "USTA Florida paid a portion of the expense for these lines to be painted as we strive to give back to the communities with our membership dollars. I thank [MWKF Director] Terri Florio and [Founder] Mal Washington for believing in the format of play and the need for QuickStart Tennis lines." The MWKF center has eight full-size tennis courts and three permanent QuickStart courts used in their after-school programs. The addition of the permanent QuickStart lines will enable even more QuickStart play for 10-and-under children. For more information on USTA Florida grants for QuickStart Tennis lines contact Linda Curtis at curtisL@florida.usta.com.

Devin Reddick of Jacksonville was named Professional Tennis Registry (PTR) Member of the Year for the state of Florida. Reddick is the head tennis professional at the MaliVai Washington Kids Foundation, the non-profit organization that serves nearly 150 youth through its TnT after-school program. TnT (Tennis-n-Tutoring) provides free homework assistance, life skills classes, mentoring, tutoring and tennis lessons to the Jacksonville's most under-served youth. Reddick also leads the organization's efforts to help grow the game in the community. The Foundation servers as the tennis component for several programs, including other after-school programs such as The Bridge of North East Florida, The Tony Boselli Foundation, and a number of introductory clinics and series for beginners on all ages and ability levels. Reddick is also the captain of five MWKF Team Tennis Teams.

CHARACTER COUNTS holds its annual tennis exhibition in Jacksonville on April 24, 2010, featuring former world No. 3 Brian Gottfried, former world No. 4 Todd Martin, and Wimbledon runner-up MaliVai Washington at the San Jose Country Club. A round robin Pro-Am also features an all-pro exhibition, dinner, entertainment and cash bar. The event enables CHARACTER COUNTS! to provide essential character education training to youth-serving at-risk and re-entry organizations, promoting the Six Pillars of Character throughout Jacksonville: Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring and Citizenship. Participants can purchase tickets online at www.iwantaBUZZ.com.

ORLANDO -- Registration for the Orlando-area Spring Flex League starts March 1 and ends March 29. The league begins April 5 and runs through June 7. USTA Flex Leagues are specifically designed to help you fit tennis into your busy life. You decide whether to play singles, doubles, or mixed doubles at whatever time is convenient for you. You play with your own NTRP level; 2.5-5.0 is offered. Mixed Doubles is a combined score -- for example, a 3.0 & 4.0 would be a 7.0. For all doubles, you can register to play during the weekday mornings, weekday nights, weekends, or anytime. Flex Leagues are an excellent way to meet and compete against new players at your level. You can schedule your matches when and where it is most convenient for you. To sign up go to www.USTAFlex.com.


USTA Florida blogger Meghan Zimmer of Port Orange
(left) and a snowman at the Girls 14 Nationals in
Mobile, Ala.

U.S. rising pro Melanie Oudin made a stop in Palm Coast before heading over to France in February to lead the U.S. Fed Cup team, rooting for her boyfriend Austin Smith who was playing in the qualifying event of the USTA Pro Circuit event. Smith lost before reaching the main draw, and Oudin signed endless autographs and posed for photos with local juniors and parents (see photo). "Melanie seems like a really nice person," said Jan Buenner, who was on-site during the event and owns the Trails Racquet Club in nearby Ormond Beach. "She already signed autographs for a bunch of the ball kids and posed for pictures." 
PENSACOLA -- The University of West Florida men's and women's tennis teams hosted a USTA Campus Kids' Day during their home opener against Columbus State on Feb. 25. The matches took place at the Ralph "Skeeter" Carson Complex at the UWF main campus in Pensacola. The USTA-sponsored event involved children with the sport of tennis in a friendly environment, and any child in the community was welcome to participate. QuickStart Tennis courts were available along with equipment provided by the USTA, along with free food, prizes, giveaways, and free t-shirts. Both UWF men's and women's tennis teams are ranked No. 7 in the nation in the preseason poll. For more information visit www.GoArgos.com. Click Here for more info on USTA Campus Kids' Days.

PONTE VEDRA BEACH -- The MPS Group Championships announced the launch of a new and improved tournament website at  www.mpsgroupchamps.net. The enhanced site makes it easier to find the most up-to-date information about this year's tournament. Among other areas, the new site features player rosters, volunteer and ticket information, daily and match event schedules and live scoring. The event is also looking for volunteers and ballpersons: volunteers can participate in a variety of administrative and service positions and must commit to a minimum of four (4) shifts during the week, each of which are approximately 3 to 4 hours long, and must attend a one-hour orientation on March 24th or 25th. Ball person tryouts and training will begin Saturday, Feb, 27 from 3-5 p.m. at the Sawgrass Racquet Park facility. Ball person positions are available beginning qualifying weekend (Saturday, April 3 and Sunday, April 4) through Sunday, April 11. Ball persons are needed for both day and night sessions. In order to participate as a ball person for The MPS Group Championships this year, candidates must attend and pass a minimum of five training sessions beginning with the Feb. 27 session. For more details please visit the tournament website at www.mpsgroupchamps.net and click on the "Become a Volunteer" tab, or call Tournament Volunteer Coordinator Anne Carlson at (904) 318-3393.

The MPS Group Championships in February also announced the commitment of three returning players, along with newcomer Lucie Safarova to play in the tournament's return to Sawgrass Country Club April 5-11, 2010: the Ukraine's Alona Bondarenko, Canadian and 2009 runner-up Aleksandra Wozniak, and Kateryna Bondarenko, sister of Alona. The three join returning champion Caroline Wozniacki and Melanie Oudin in the field.



The Florida Gulf Coast University women's team
at the IMPACT special-needs school

The City of Miami Parks and Recreation Department and the Greater Miami Tennis & Education Foundation hosted the 2nd Annual NCAA Collegiate Tennis Fest at the Ashe-Buchholz Tennis Center at Moore Park on Feb. 21, with the event paying tribute to Bobby Curtis. "Bobby started organizing programs and teaching tennis at Ashe-Buchholz/Moore Park Tennis Center," said event coordinators. "From that point on, Bobby became a role model for the children in the inner-city programs, also playing an instrumental part in the development of the Greater Miami Tennis & Education Foundation, on which he still serves as a board director today. He has made a positive impact in the community and to countless past and present players at the Ashe-Buchholz/Moore Park Tennis Center."...

Ft. Lauderdale's Ryan Sweeting won the Dallas Challenger in February, defeating Australia's Carsten Ball in the final. The 22-year-old Sweeting won 6-4, 6-2 in the final at the T Bar M Racquet Club, defending his title from 2009. "Being down 3-to-love sounds like a lot, but it's really only one break," said Sweeting of his slow start in the final. "I knew if I could just break him once, I'd get back in it. Fortunately, he made a few mistakes and I was able to get the momentum."...

Aventura's Eric Nunez reached the final of the Palm Coast USTA Pro Circuit Futures event in February with partner Daniel Garza of Mexico, but the pair defaulted the final due to injury to Americans Benjamin Rogers and Taylor Fogleman...

Palm Beach Gardens' Serena Williams is preparing for her post-tennis career -- by becoming a nail technician? The younger Williams sister blogged that she is in the midst of 240 hours of coursework to become a certified nail technician. "No one likes getting their nails done more than I do," Williams wrote. "As a matter of fact I go every four days to get a manicure and every seven days for a pedicure. So, I had a brilliant idea to get certified to be a nail tech." She wrote that she purchased a new Hello Kitty backpack for her nail school supplies, and posted photos of herself in her work clothes -- overalls and blue scrubs, giving someone a French pedicure. "I've never done French, but I was determined to not butcher it," she wrote. "Luckily, thanks to my weekly pedicures I took my time and it came out great."...

Ivan Lendl, who keeps a winter home in South Florida, is reportedly close to announcing the Florida site of Ivan Lendl's Champions Academy, according to Florida tennis writer Ray McNulty of TCPalm.com. The academy is a school for promising junior golfers, but will soon add a tennis school. "When you're working with promising juniors, I've found that it's better to show them, not just tell them," says Lendl, who sounds like he will play an active part in the tennis academy. "I didn't play [tennis] for 14 years because my back was terrible. The arthritis, the torn disc, the torn ligament -- it was all in the same area. Walking was difficult. Even standing was difficult. But it's getting better. It's not 100 percent, but it's a lot better than it was. I play three to four times a week, 60 to 90 minutes at a time. And I can train now and not get sore. So I'm getting in better shape, too, and that helps."...

16-year-old Naples resident Gordon Watson won the singles and doubles titles at the Feb. 13-17 Augusta National Open in Augusta, Ga. Overcoming six inches of snow on the courts that delayed the first day of play, Watson captured the doubles title with fellow Naples resident Brett Clark...

BONITA SPRINGS -- A men's doubles match with 2001 Wimbledon doubles winners Jared Palmer and Don Johnson against five-time Grand Slam doubles title winner Rick Leach and former pro Tim "Dr. Dirt" Wilkinson, and a mixed match featuring 1977 women's Wimbledon doubles champ Joanne Russell and former U.S. Davis Cup member Dick Stockton against USTA national competitor Amy Alcini and former ATP pro David Macpherson, with commentating and umpiring by ESPN commentator Mary Carillo, will be the features at the March 5 Marquis Pro Challenge at Bonita Bay, part of the third annual Barbara's Friends Celebrity Tennis Event. The charity event helps raise money for Barbara's Friends -- The Children's Hospital Cancer Fund. For information contact Denise Markovits at (239) 985-3550 or denise.markovits@leememorial.org.


 Center: Patrick Rafter and John McEnroe

John McEnroe and Patrick Rafter stole the show with an epic final match at the Delray Beach Stadium & Tennis Center in their first meeting ever on the ATP Champions Tour. Playing in the championship match of the eight-man event, the 51-year-old McEnroe and the 37-year-old Rafter both held their serves through 24 games, forcing two tie-breakers that decided the match 7-6(4), 7-6(1) for Rafter. There was levity, intensity, and stellar tennis in this chess match of a confrontation. Both players looked for every opportunity to come up to the net and display their vintage, old-school volleying games. "It was great," said McEnroe after the match. "I think we showed the young guns how to use a little variety. They hit the ball so hard, but maybe they'll see that it pays to have a little more variety. It was a lot of fun playing Pat except I would have liked it if the scores were reversed." In the second set, after McEnroe aced Rafter with an out-wide delivery on the deuce court, Rafter dropped his racket and said, "You're amazing, mate." McEnroe chided linesmen and castigated the umpire, Mark Bell, but he also awarded Rafter an ace on a serve in the second set that a linesman called out. "What has gotten into you?" asked Rafter. McEnroe put up his hands and said, "You hit 50 and weird things happen."

Prior to the beginning of the Delray Beach ATP Champions Tour event, McEnroe and Haiti's Ronald Agenor played an exhibition in the street on the main strip in Delray Beach, with patrons lining the street five deep. "What's the winner get, a shot of tequila or what?" McEnroe asked the crowd. The two played on a makeshirt tennis court surrounded by trees between East 1st and East 2nd avenues, promoting the first ATP Champions Tour event in Delray Beach, played alongside the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships ATP World Tour event. "You cannot be serious!" McEnroe yelled to the match umpire, slamming his racquet down to the delight of the crowd, which filled the street to get a glimpse of the American legend.

FT. MYERS --  In late January the Florida Gulf Coast University women's tennis team spent three hours spreading over half a ton of mulch at IMPACT, a special needs school in Fort Myers. It was the latest in a series of acts of community service for the team, which has become a monthly tradition ever since Jennifer Gabou took over as head coach in July 2008. "The girls worked really hard at IMPACT and we look forward to going back and playing some tennis with the students," Gabou said. IMPACT is a private, not-for-profit organization focused on the advancement of children ages birth to 5 who are considered at risk due to a variety of delays or conditions that could impair their early childhood development.

MIAMI GARDENS -- On Feb. 19 the St. Thomas (Fla.) University men's and women's tennis teams played host to a conference match against Webber International (Fla.) University as part of the United States Tennis Association's USTA Campus Kids' Day program designed to expose more junior players, their parents and coaches to college tennis varsity team matches. Fifty children from the Olinda Elementary School in Miami attended the event sponsored by St. Thomas University. The Bobcats head coach Bruce Carrington and Webber International head coach William Heath spoke to the children about sportsmanship, preparation for collegiate sports and mutual respect for individuals and teams, while USTA officials and umpires presented rules, regulations and formalities of collegiate tennis. The youth participants enjoyed two hours of exciting and highly competitive tennis in which St. Thomas won both team matches by a 7-2 score. In addition to getting an introduction to the collegiate tennis experience, the children toured the new St. Thomas University Science & Technology Building, the newest science education laboratory of its kind in the state of Florida.

NAPLES -- The "First Serve for Haiti" and Sunshine State Foundation fundraiser was planned for Saturday, Feb. 27 at the Naples Community Tennis Center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Proceeds and donations will benefit the Sunshine State Foundation and Haiti Orphange in Need. The event will include exhibitions by FGCU men and women team members with ATP Tour pro Jesse Witten scheduled to participate, with the event open free to the public. Organizers are accepting donations of new or used children's clothing, shoes, medicines and other supplies. For more info e-mail trish@naplescommunitytennis.com.

WEST PALM BEACH -- The Swingtime Pro-Celebrity Pro-Am Tennis & Golf Tournament is returning to Ibis Golf & Country Club in West Palm Beach on April 24, 2010, to benefit the Palm Beach County-based Be A Star Foundation. The event is being hosted by former tennis professional Kathy Rinaldi. A field of current and former professional athletes, actors and TV personalities will compete with and against amateurs in the Tennis Pro-Am and Golf Pro-Am Tournament. The Swingtime Dinner Party features a cocktail reception, dinner, live and silent auction, entertainment and the opportunity to mingle and dine with the participating celebrities. Past celebrity participants have included tennis legend Chris Evert, Jim Courier, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Andy Roddick, Jennifer Capriati, NFL Hall of Famers Paul Warfield and Joe Namath, baseball greats Gary Carter and Keith Hernandez, and Olympians Bob Beamon and Blaine Wilson. Over 10 years, Swingtime raised more than $1 million for the Tim & Tom Gullikson Foundation, which funded care and support programs for brain-tumor patients and their families. For more info visit www.chevents.com.


A new NCAA regulation affecting tennis players: Student-athletes were allowed a year off between high school graduation and college, but now will be allowed only six months.

Got Florida tennis news? E-mail to news@florida.usta.com





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