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Florida Tennis Briefs(2): Clearwater Wheelchair Open; Centenarian Gentilhomme Featured; ITA All-Americans

June 17, 2011 11:10 AM
Clearwater Wheelchair Open; Centenarian Gentilhomme Featured

By Nancy Morgan, TennisLife-Florida Region 3 writer

Jeffrey Rush
The second annual Clearwater Wheelchair Open nearly doubled in entries from its first state-sanctioned event, bringing over 20 players from around Florida, as well as from Georgia, South Carolina and New York to the city's Henry L. McMullen Tennis Complex.

Jeffrey Rush of Clearwater, USTA Florida's 2010 Wheelchair Player of the Year, won the A singles and the A doubles with partner Marco Dibujes of Miami.

"The weather was fantastic, and for those players coming from the north, it was unbelievably nice," Rush said. "This is the first tournament of the year on the wheelchair schedule, and I think the players coming here will keep increasing from year to year."

Rush, who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis about 10 years ago, has revamped his tennis game from an able-bodied to wheelchair player, thanks to teaching professional Robert Carlbo. In the A singles final, he defeated Harlon Matthews of Georgia, who is ranked No. 6 in the country.

According to Dawn Lewellyn, Clearwater's Therapeutic Recreation and Aging Wellness Center supervisor, the second year of the tournament was very well-received by the competitors. In addition to the competition, players were able to check-in early and participate in Clearwater's free wheelchair tennis program led by Carlbo. Afterwards, the players were treated to refreshments in anticipation of the two-day contest.

"Having the players check-in early and join in the hit-around was good, because everyone was swapping stories," Lewellyn said. "Any time we can raise player numbers and those players go away happy, I'm happy. We will continue to improve and find ways to raise the bar next year."

Centenarian-Plus-Two Featured

Pinellas County winter resident Roger Gentilhomme, 102, is featured in the documentary Age of Champions, a film that honors senior athletes.

Produced by the Documentary Foundation in California, the film premiered at Tampa's Straz Center in March before heading to the National Senior Olympics in Houston. Following the NSA, the film will tour more than 30 cities around the country and is slated to be released to PBS for national viewing in 2012.

Mr. Gentilhomme, who started playing tennis when he retired at the age of 65, has competed in the Good Life Games and Senior Olympic Nationals nearly 20 years, and in 2009 attended the inaugural World Senior Games in the Netherlands. In 2007, then-Gov. Charlie Crist honored Mr. Gentilhomme as Florida's Athlete of the Year.

Florida College Players Named to 2011 ITA Division I All-America Teams
ITA logoThe Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) has named the 2011 ITA All-America Teams for Division I men's and women's tennis.

To become eligible in singles a player must be a Top 16 seed in the NCAA Singles Championships, or reach the round of 16 in the NCAA Singles Championships, or finish in the Top 20 of the final ITA Rankings. In doubles a player must be a Top 8 seed in the NCAA Doubles Championships, or reach the quarterfinals of the NCAA Doubles Championship, or finish in the Top 10 of the final ITA Rankings.

Florida school players named were Alexandre Lacroix, Florida (singles and doubles); Sekou Bangoura, Florida (d); Connor Smith,  Florida State (d); Alex Cercone, Florida (d); Vahid Mirzadeh, Florida State (d); Lauren Embree, Florida (s); Allie Will, Florida (s/d), Anna Bartenstein, Miami (d); and Bianca Eichkorn, Miami (s/d).

To view the entire listing of 2011 ITA All-Americans from all divisions, visit www.itatennis.com






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