Florida Juniors Capture Wins at USTA 12 Spring National Championships

April 18, 2007 01:02 PM

By Marlena Hall

Delray Beach, FL (April 16, 2007) — In the beginning, there was the top ranked 256 boys and girls from all over the country, from the great "Golden Gate" state to the "Big Apple," with a little of everything in between. With outstretched wingspans, superhuman court coverage, and unearthly serves, the top 128 boys and 128 girls came down to planet Delray Beach, Florida to seal their name in the next page of The Good Draw.

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All work and no play makes nationally competitive tennis players dull boys and girls. In order to keep our shining stars energized and motivated, on Tuesday, April 10, we were able to kick off our tennis shoes, put on our party suits, and get our groove on at the Official Players' Party at The Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Boca Town Center, catered by the always delicious, Mario's of Boca. If the mouth-watering Italian hors d'oeuvres and desserts did not suffice, we had snow cones, men-on-stilts, jugglers, balloon animals and an all-star DJ that would make every LA socialite  jealous! After jammin' under a Disco Ball, the party animals got their game faces back on to compete for that Gold Ball. And on the 7th day (April 14), the tournament director rested from creating (4:7-14) the Sea Island Resorts USTA Boys’ & Girls’ 12 Spring National Championships hosted by the City of Delray Beach (April 8-14, 2007). After a week's worth of divine intervention, Delray Beach's heavens opened and proclaimed: Let there be Champions!

(Naturally) Beginning with the boys' side of the draw, the finals brought the #2 and #3 seed to battle. To the left of the chair sat Tennessee's sounding mockingbird, Nick Wood (2) (Knoxville, TN), the Day 6 "Player of the Day, and to the right of the chair, sat resident Miamian and tri-seed, Roy Lederman (3), the Day 2 "Player of the Day". These GI Joe's battled the midday heat, nerves from the crowd and press, and for Wood, stomach cramps too. This tennis match was an all-too unpredictable roller-coaster but was too exciting to keep anyone from getting up and leaving.

Wood dominated the first set so quickly and so staunchly, that even the head ball kid came inside and reported at its completion, "He [Wood] is just killing him out there." But never put all your eggs in a ball kid's basket, because Lederman miraculously captured the second set, without giving Wood a single game. Ten-minutes. Split-set break. Wood calls a trainer to help alleviate his aching stomach. Lederman intends to keep his rhythm going for just one more set. First point of the third-set seemed to narrate the entire third and final set. Winning the first point in a long and drawn out fight, Nick Wood winds up as victor in this incredible finale—6-1, 0-6, 6-1. And as the heroic champion of the entire Boys' 12 Spring National Championships, we'd like to anoint you with a two-time, consecutive award, the "Delray Beach Player of the Day."

Rewind a few hours. 9:15 AM, top-seed in Girls' draw, Sachia Vickery (1) (Miramar, FL), prepared for her early match like she did all ones before it: early warm-up, ate a light breakfast, listened to favorite rapper/entertainer, Jay-Z, and mentally prepared right before she was called to play. Having beaten rather convincingly (6-1, 6-0) Breaunna Addison (4) (New Braunfels, TX) the day before, Vickery was determined to cop that Gold Ball. "I like to think of Serena [Williams] during times like these," Sachia said, "she's a fighter and overcomes all the odds." As the #1 seed in the draw, it might seem as though she was not facing any odds in this tournament, but to Sachia, "I see a challenge in  performing well when I'm expected to win." But how does the nation's #2 player and tournament's #1 seed, keep her expectations from clouding her thought and breaking her down? "I never underestimate [my] opponents," Vickery declared. Plus, "I've been training on clay for awhile, I hit with guys, and I'm focusing on improving my serve."
 
On the other side of the net was Jerricka Boone (2) (Chicago, IL), and she was giving Sachia Vickery every reason to crumble under pressure. Prior to the finals, Vickery had only lost 11 games in 6 matches. But by Day 7, Boone had brought Vickery to her closest set, challenging her with two set points in the first set before winning the tiebreak. But the glare from that Gold Ball was too much for Sachia to ignore. This little powerhouse clenched the title—7-6 (4), 6-2—to win the USTA Girls' 12s Spring National Championships at the Delray Swim & Tennis Club. Well, to the lil' Jay-Z fan, Miss Sachia Vickery may have 99 problems, but a match ain't one. Congratulations on a flawless tournament, and let us once again award you with the "Delray Beach Player of the Day." She's a [gold] baller.

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Dear college coaches: Keep your eyes open! We've got a double threat in our midst! In the Boys' Doubles final, #1 seed in singles and doubles draw, Joseph DiGiulio (Newport Beach, CA) teamed up with Thomas Pura (Bedford Hills, NY), to defeat Stefan Kozlov (Pembroke Pines, FL) and his partner, Gene Tioutine (Pembroke Pines)—6-4, 6-4.

Singles "Silver-Baller" Finalist, Boone partnered up with the Windy City's Alyson Coran (Chicago, IL) in the Doubles Championship match. Boone/Coran (5) suspended their AM flight in order to play the finals, but were quieted by Boca Raton residents, Madison Keys and Jennifer Brady, (unseeded), 6-2, 6-3. At least they went home with something that sounded the metal detector.


Playing for a Bronze Ball in the Girls' singles draw in her sunny backyard, Victoria Duval (3) (Delray Beach, FL) played a great match against our Day 1 "Delray Beach Player of the Day," Addison, capturing the copper amulet—7-5, 6-3. Our Day 4 "Delray Beach Player of the Day" and #9 seed in singles' draw, Jacqueline Crawford (Bloomfield Hills, MI) defeated Kourtney J. Keegan (Roswell, GA) in the finals of the Gold Draw, 6-2, 6-3—what a peachy win!

#1 seed, Di Giulio, our Day 6 "Delray Beach Player of the Day," did not leave empty handed in singles after his loss in the semis to eventual champ, Nick Wood (2). Di Giulio went on to defeat Jared Hiltzik (Wilmette, IL) in the 3rd/4th playoff match, winning the Bronze Ball in two steamy sets—6-4, 6-2. And like his Governor would say: "He'll be back!"

Unseeded player, Conrad F. Harron (Chicago, IL) defeated another non-seed Thomas Pura (Bedford Hills, NY) in the Super-Duper Feed-In (Gold Division) in the final round—6-4, 6-3.
  
As a nationally competitive tennis player, good sportsmanship may come in second. But as the ethos of sport, conforming to the rules of the game while respecting your fellow opponents, should be as important, if not more, than just winning. At a National tournament, these competitors did not come here to lose, but they also did not come here to disrupt their play, nor torture their fellow competitors, umpires, and tournament directors. They make their mark on the clay and off, and from a list compiled by tournament officials and event staff, we narrowed down the search to: Taylor Townsend (Jonesboro, GA) and Jack Murray (Northville, MI). We'd like to award you both with the USTA Sportsmanship Award—Clearly, you both understand the importance of good conduct even in the most competitive athletic environment, and we'd like to acknowledge you both for your sportsman's decorum.

The 2008 Sea Island Resorts USTA Boys’ & Girls’ 12 Spring National Championships hosted by the City of Delray Beach returns April 7 – 13. For further information, including volunteering and sponsorship opportunities, please call the tournament office at (561) 330-6000.

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