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12s in Nashville for Zonal Team Championships

August 8, 2006 10:29 AM

by Tori Townsend

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The Centennial Sportsplex Tennis Center in Nashville hosted the USTA 12s Boys and Girls Zonal Team Championships July 26-30.  Twenty boys and 20 girls from USTA Florida competed against four other sections including USTA Carribean, Mid Atlantic, Midwest, and Southern.

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This team event was fun, competitive, spirited and exciting.  Florida junior players, who usually compete against each other during the season, had the opportunity to work together, cheer each other on and socialize with teammates.
USTA Florida invited four talented coaches to lead Florida’s 12s Zonal Team.  Ken Obermeier, Jackie Bohannon, Kevin Quay, and Lorenzo Beltrame provided great instruction for the young players during the five-day tournament. 

“I love coaching kids at this age because I feel like I can really help them," Coach Quay said.  "For the younger kids, this may be their first time getting national tournament exposure.”

Proof of this was seen in 8-year-old Adam Ambrose, the youngest player on USTA Florida’s team.

USTA Florida Director of Competitive Tennis Andy Gladstone encourages young players to participate.

“It impacts the kids when they experience such a good time at a young age," he said.  "In a team event like this one, they build relationships and start to feel comfortable with other players they might not know as well.”

This tournament is not only fun for players and coaches, but for parents as well.

“Parents love the idea that their kids can get coached during the match,” Coach Quay said.  “It is amazing to see how close the kids and parents become by the end of this team tournament.  These relationships continue even after Zonals are over.”

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USTA Florida recognized two junior players who showed teamwork, fairness, courtesy, honesty, unselfishness, respect and responsibility during Zonals.  Robert Dvorak and Blair Martin received the 2006 USTA Florida Sportsmanship Award.

“It was really nice getting the sportsmanship award for my first time playing in this tournament,” Martin said.  “It was fun meeting people on my team and players from other states.”

“This tournament is more fun than others because you play as a team, and not just by yourself," Dvorak said.  "You can go out with everyone and have fun!” 

Besides playing great tennis for five days, players, coaches and parents partook in some good ol’ country line dancing; and better yet, they experienced this in the heart of county music roots!
With a busy summer filled with high competition for these junior players, it was time for them to experience a little country, a little fun, and a lot of encouragement!

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