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UF Beats UCF for 3rd Straight USTA Florida Tennis Campus Championship

March 1, 2010 06:00 PM
 

 The champion University of Florida "A" team

 

 The runner-up University of Central Florida "A" team

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Feb. 28, 2010 --
In a rematch of last year's championship match, the co-ed University of Florida (UF) "A" team defeated the co-ed University of Central Florida (UCF) "A" team 26-21 to win its third consecutive USTA Florida Campus Championships, the USTA Florida section's season-ending event of the 'Tennis On Campus' season.

A record 25 co-ed teams with 144 participants representing 10 Florida colleges and universities competed at the 2010 USTA Florida Campus Championships at the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach, Fla.

The winner of the USTA Florida Campus Championships receives $1,500 for travel expenses to attend the USTA National Campus Championships, while the runner-up team receives $1,000. Both UF and UCF receive Florida's two berths to the USTA National Campus Championships in April at Surprise, Ariz.

Tennis On Campus utilizes World TeamTennis-style scoring, where rather than the win-loss totals determining matches, they are decided by the total number of games won through totaling men's and women's singles, men's and women's doubles, and the match-ending mixed doubles. Each match is one set, no-ad scoring, and if one team is trailing significantly entering the final mixed doubles, the trailing team still have a chance to tie the match if they win the mixed doubles and can then win enough consecutive games to tie the score and force a "super tiebreaker."

In the final UF entered the mixed doubles against UCF with a five game overall lead. The Gators were in a commanding position but still according to rules needed to win the set to clinch the title. But UF failed to close it out, losing 6-4, giving UCF an opportunity to win the next three games to tie the overall score. UF then re-took control, breaking serve the next game to clinch the win.

The UF winning team was composed of Scott and Kevin Runda, Kenny Palmer, Emmett Walsh, Jodi Kleiner, Kelly Frey and Brooke Allen. The University of Florida is the lone Florida club program to win the USTA National Campus Championships title in 2003.

"Scott Runda, our No. 1 guy, he's been strong for the last four years," said the UF "A" team captain Walsh, who himself is playing his third year for the UF club team. "And this year we acquired Jodi (Kleiner), she's a freshman and she's a really, really, really good player. We had a lot of freshman come in last year; we'll be losing Scott who's a senior but we'll still be strong."

The runner-up UCF team was made up of Luis Duco, Jimmy Roesch, Minar Rane, Katie Reinders, Sarah Gaynor and Erin McCardle.

In the consolation final, the Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) "B" team defeated the FGCU "C" team.

The FGCU squad overcame adversity as two players injured their fingers, one breaking a finger, in a flag football game prior to the start of the championships. This year was a vast improvement for FGCU, which lost "virtually every match" of their season last year, but this year was eliminated in the semifinals of the Florida section championship in a tightly-contested match with the eventual winner UF.

"We've progressively gotten better throughout tournaments [during the year], we made some semifinals and a couple back-draw finals," said FGCU captain Leah Johnson, who competed in her first year of club play after a couple years playing for the varsity team. "I changed my mentality going into the game [against UF] -- because they get talked-up so much I got nervous and already I was telling myself that this was going to be hard, but this tournament, after watching them play I changed my game to be more consistent, and the rest of our team talked about how we could come through, and we just took it one point at a time."

Johnson for one enjoys the team camaraderie and relaxed atmosphere of Tennis On Campus.

"I like playing on the club team, it's a lot more relaxed and I play better," Johnson said.

The FGCU "B" consolation champion team was comprised of Luis Leon, Patrick Wrobel, Melissa Engel and Kelly Chapparo.

Awards were also given out for the 2009-10 Florida season, with the University of Central Florida named Florida 'Tennis On Campus' Club of the Year by USTA National, and UCF Club President Luis Duco named Florida 'Tennis On Campus' Club Leader of the Year.

Duco assisted USTA Florida with organizing the event calendar in 2009-10, and is the co-founder of the new 'Tennis On Campus' Battle for the Southeast tournament, which will be held this March.

"Up north, Northeastern does it, they hold their tournament after the US Open, and I thought we needed to do a tournament like that because we have such talent in the state of Florida," said Duco on founding the Battle for the Southeast. "I thought it would be a great way to showcase the teams from Florida, and bring in teams from Georgia, North Carolina, everywhere in the region to compete in one battleground. College players love to get out there and play, and it's during the spring break time of the year so it just makes sense. We're still taking teams, it's going to be the first 32 teams. It's going to be a great time and a chance for players to make a lot of new acquaintances."

Florida college and university club tennis teams support their practice and tournament travel through school funding and fundraisers, with club tennis teams coming in all shapes and sizes. In Florida, newer teams such as Stetson and Florida Institute of Technology have roughly 20 members with two-year histories, while club teams at the University of Miami, Florida Gulf Coast University and the University of South Florida have upwards of 80-100 members at their schools. The UF club team has a 14-year history, and the club gives back to the Gainesville community by putting on free clinics for Boys & Girls Clubs.

Club tennis teams at schools build their membership through websites and social media such as Facebook, advertising in student publications, flyers, expos, fundraising events, and general word of mouth.

What is Tennis On Campus?
The USTA's Tennis On Campus program is designed to provide college students with opportunities for team camaraderie, social networking, and on-campus and inter-school competition through tennis outside the NCAA varsity realm. Perfect for athletes who have chosen not to make the jump from high school to college varsity, Tennis On Campus offers co-ed team-based play, regional and national championship competition, and helps students maintain active and healthy lifestyles through their college years. Currently the program is offered on over 500 college campuses and services over 30,000 students.

Tennis On Campus tournaments throughout the year involve sport club tennis teams at colleges and universities, and in Florida culminate with the USTA Florida Campus Championships, where the champion and runner-up teams advance to the USTA National Campus Championship in Arizona. Participants in the Tennis On Campus program in Florida are Eckerd College, Flagler College, Florida Gulf Coast University, Florida Institute of Technology, Florida International University, Stetson University, University of Central Florida, University of Florida, University of Miami, and University of South Florida.

USTA National Campus Championship
The USTA National Campus Championship is the pinnacle of the Tennis On Campus program. Hosted in partnership by the USTA, National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA), World TeamTennis (WTT), and Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA), this venue features 64 college and university co-ed teams competing for bragging rights and the title of National Campus Champion. Club tennis teams can qualify for a bid to the USTA National Campus Championship through participation in their USTA section's USTA Campus Championship, or by applying for an at-large bid. In 2009 the University of Central Florida finished third at the USTA National Campus Championship, the best of any Florida team.

For more information about Tennis on Campus in Florida, e-mail Michelle Willis at willis@florida.usta.com.

USTA Florida Tennis on Campus Championship Winners:
2010 -- University of Florida
2009 -- University of Florida
2008 -- University of Florida
2007 -- University of Central Florida
2006 -- University of Central Florida
* Prior to 2006, Florida teams advanced straight to nationals

USTA National Campus Championship Winners:
2009 -- Duke University
2008 -- University of Texas -- Austin
2007 -- Texas A&M University -- College Station
2006 -- Texas A&M University -- College Station 
2005 -- Texas A&M University -- College Station
2004 -- Texas A&M University -- College Station
2003 -- University of Florida
2002 -- Texas A&M University
2001 -- University of North Carolina -- Chapel Hill
2000 -- University of North Carolina -- Chapel Hill
 

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