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Day 0: US Open National Playoff Qualifying-Florida Tennis Blog

May 27, 2010 07:00 PM
 

A burrito (pronounced /b?'ri?to?/ in US English, [bu'rito]
in Spanish), or taco de harina, is a type of
Mexican food.
It consists of a
flour tortilla wrapped or folded around a filling.
The flour tortilla is usually lightly grilled or steamed, to soften
it and make it more pliable. In Mexico,
refried beans, Mexican
rice
, or meat are usually the only fillings and the tortilla is
smaller in size. In the United States, however, fillings generally
include a combination of ingredients such as Mexican rice,
beans, lettuce, salsa, meat, avocado, cheese, and sour cream,
and the size varies, with some burritos considerably larger than
their Mexican counterparts.

 

 Practice sessions at the IMG Bollettieri Tennis Academy

 

The IMG Academies map -- tennis courts in the upper right
(where the glare spot is), entrance not shown (would be
bottom right corner to the right off the map)

USTA Florida's Rick Vach blogs from the IMG Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Bradenton, Fla., the site of the inaugural US Open National Playoff Qualifying-Florida tournament:


"I truly look forward to playing and watching the matches. Being able to play hardcourt tennis at Bollettieri's is a dream. No matter what happens on the court, it is already worth it."
-- USONPQ-F Competitor Christopher De Tone of Clearwater, Fla.

It's Friday, the day before the USONPQ-F, and the drive down to Bradenton wasn't as bad as I thought. Driving through Orlando you see many 10-story Orlando Magic banners on buildings as they battle to stay in the NBA Playoffs, go Magic! (Also a shout-out to Lynne and her Philadelphia Flyers). Stopped at Moe's ("Welcome to Moes!") on the way down and got a delicious burrito to go -- I don't know if Moe's is in the USTA Player Development pre-tournament eating handbook -- but it should be.

Just saw that Gary Coleman died! How sad. Rest in peace little man, wonder if they'll put "What you talkin' 'bout Willis?" on his headstone, one of the greatest additions to the American lexicon.

Took a walk around the IMG Bollettieri campus and was stunned -- stunned! -- at what I saw as a first-time visitor to Nick's shrine to producing greatness. From talking to coaches and reading Andre Agassi's biography (where the Bollettieri Academy didn't come off too well), I expected 50 courts surrounded by barbed wire and more cement (and maybe barbed wire over the courts, so kids couldn't escape), with instructors firing tennis balls at blonde, pony-tailed Maria Sharapova wanna-bees. While I saw plenty of little blonde mini-Sharapovas, I was overwhelmed by the beautiful, modern facility that is almost its own city.

The 37 hardcourts and nine claycourts, plus a "stadium" hardcourt and a stadium claycourt, are immaculate and separated by mini-fences between the courts. Kids and adults were receiving group and private lessons, and a kid's camp were having fun playing on-court games to music. IMG Academies backs-up to a nature preserve, but the grounds also take on the look of the preserve with lush lawns and plenty of trees. As you walk from the clubhouse/reception building down Bollettieri Way (not making that up) to the courts, you pass spa buildings, the adult activity center, the Sports Performance Center (mental conditioning classes, media training, etc.), and the junior dorms that look like old-Florida mid-level condos.

Behind the tennis courts is a massive building housing the IMG Basketball Academy (two full indoor courts), the weights/conditioning center, a sports therapy center, and next to that four indoor tennis courts, all ultra-modern. Behind that is the IMG Golf Academy with a double-ended golf range and a short-game area, and access to a full course (you always see kids walking the ground with golf bags slung over their shoulders instead of book bags); baseball fields for the IMG Baseball Academy; soccer fields for the IMG Soccer Academy; and various office buildings to house the sports offices.

Not enough? How about its very own school? The Pendleton School is where the full-time kids get their education on the campus, featuring pre-K through grade 12 classes. The University of Miami also has classrooms on the academy grounds, mainly serving non-U.S. kids who need to brush-up with classes for English as a second language.

There are also cafes for kids to grab food outside of the dining hours and lounge around, or swim in the various pools, or play in the various game rooms across the academy. There is also a Madden Football Academy, a Lacrosse Academy, and a Performance Academy (get stronger, faster, etc.), all offering summer camps. What an eye-opener, and what an opportunity for these kids in all sports.

So tomorrow (Saturday) morning the US Open National Playoff Qualifying-Florida tournament begins. USTA National just informed us that the men's and women's champions from Florida will also receive an Olympus HD video camera to document their journey and training, from winning the Florida event to competing in the national event featuring all the USTA sectional winners (the men in Atlanta and the women in Stanford, Calif.) in July.

Tomorrow the men will play two matches (one for the lucky players who got a first-round bye) and the women will play one, which will quickly bring the men's draw from 64 to the Sweet 16, and the women's draw to 16.

Type at you tomorrow. For draws and more info see the tournament website at:
http://tennislink.usta.com/tournaments/tournamenthome/tournament.aspx?T=93920

Got comments/input as a player or observer or internet lurker? E-mail vach@florida.usta.com and we'll get your comments in the blog.

 

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