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Florida Open Championships Features Outstanding Field

June 23, 2008 09:00 AM

By Craig Handel
posted June 21, 2008

Florida Open Championships | TOURNAMENT RESULTS
WHAT: Junior tennis tournament
WHEN: June 21-27
WHERE: Various locations throughout Lee County
INFO: floridaopentennis.com

A struggling economy and competing tennis tournaments haven't stopped the Florida Open Championships from posting another good turnout.  A total of 398 players began play June 21 on 11 clay courts across Lee County.

Qualifying play for the boys' 18-and-under division began Friday. There also are divisions for boys 16-and-under and girls 16- and 18-and-under.

Weather permitting, the weeklong tournament will hold championship play this Friday, June 27.

"Oh, we're very encouraged where the numbers are," said Terry See, the Florida Open's publicity director.

"That speaks for the status of our tournament. There's no question in 19 years that this has developed into one of the best stops on the circuit."

Other state tennis experts would agree that this is one of the top five junior events in Florida.

"It's a great tournament," said Andy Gladstone, director of competitive tennis for the United States Tennis Association Florida. He moderated a round table Friday night on college opportunities for players. "I know the people that run it do a great job from soup to nuts. They're organized and well prepared."

Jim Martz, publisher/editor of Florida Tennis, has attended the event a number of times.

"They've built up a big reputation," Martz said. "It's a pretty young tournament to be at the level where they are."

Bobby Curtis, junior coordinator for USTA Florida, said he helped start the event here 19 years ago with Hank Jungle and Karen and Craig Reitan.

"It's wonderful," Curtis said. "They've always had good people over there, a tremendous following of volunteers to help that Landings Group."

Despite going directly against the Texas Open in Austin and Richardson, Texas; and the Southern Open in Pelham, Ala.; and ending when the USTA National Opens are starting, the Florida Open has maintained its interest.

In fact, there are more players from Southern California and the Midwest entered in the Florida Open than ever before. The usual strong contingent from New York also will be here.

One of the youngest players — 11-year-old Kahalauamalunonala Companion — is from Honolulu.

With the Landings' clubhouse being renovated, the tournament's headquarters have moved to the Crowne Plaza at The Bell Tower Shops this year.

Besides the Landings, action will be at Breckenridge, Colonial, Pelican Preserve, Gulf Harbour, Heritage Palms, Kelly Greens, Legends, Lexington, Lexington Lakes and the Estero Country Club at the Vines

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