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Florida Tennis Briefs(4): US Open Playoffs-Florida; Blake Wins Sarasota Ch.

May 2, 2011 10:35 AM
Florida's US Open Playoffs Attracting Star Entrants, Deadline May 18; Florida Player Wins USTA Southwest Mixed

mediawall-US Open Playoffs 2011Florida's Chris Evert played mixed doubles with ESPN radio personality Mike Greenberg in the USTA Eastern Section US Open Playoffs, losing in the first round to eventual champions Bea Bielik, a former WTA player, and Darrin Cohen, a former college star. The USTA Eastern Section event kicked off the 16 section events across the country, including the upcoming Florida event, that comprise the sectional 2011 US Open Playoffs.

"I'd like to play a terrible team next time," laughed Greenberg, the host of ESPN's SportsCenter and ESPN Radio's Mike and Mike in the Morning. "If there's a 72-year-old orthodontist out there who wants to sign up with their mother, I'll take them on and I'll kick their butt."

Florida players will have their chance to qualify in singles or mixed doubles when the US Open Playoffs-Florida are contested on May 28-June 3, 2011, at the famed IMG Bollettieri Academy in Bradenton, Fla.

Of the entries thus far, standouts include former ATP doubles star Ellis Ferreira, who is entered in the mixed doubles with teenager Amanda Rodgers; and Miramar, Fla., teen Sachia Vickery, who at 15 year old has already competed in six USTA Pro Circuit or ITF lower-level pro events this year.

Jeff Ryan, tournament director for the US Open National Playoffs, says the tournament in its second year has added an "open" aspect to the US Open, and the addition of the mixed doubles event is a bonus for players.

"With mixed doubles, there's no additional qualifying like there is with the singles winners," Ryan said, noting that the winning will get directly into the mixed main draw since there is no qualifying tournament in New York. "In other words, if you win the [US Open National Qualifying] finals in New Haven, congratulations -- you're in the US Open."

USTA Southwest recently competed their section playoffs, where Stuart, Florida-based teen Nicole Melichar won the mixed doubles with Arizona teen Sam Harrison, earning a spot in the 16-team national mixed draw for a shot at a wildcard into the US Open mixed main draw.

The US Open National Playoffs are open to any player over the age of 14, and participants can be of any playing level. The USTA Section winners advance to the national tournament featuring the sectional winners, and the national winners receive wildcards into the singles qualifying or the mixed doubles main draw.

The USTA Florida Section qualifying tournament will be held May 28-June 3, 2011. To register or for more event info go to http://tennislink.usta.com/Tournaments/TournamentHome/Tournament.aspx?T=107975.

95-Year-Old Tennis Ambassador Honored At The Palm Coast Tennis Center

He is a vital, active member of the local tennis community, with a gentle, warm-hearted manner. He always has words of encouragement and a smile for his friends and fellow players. His ubiquitous presence at the Tennis Center makes everyone around him enjoy playing the game even more. And by the way, he is 95 years old.

Clarence Custer was honored at the Palm Coast Tennis Center on Saturday, April 30, 2011, for not only his above-mentioned attributes, but also for his life-long leadership abilities that won him recognition and accolades for many decades. Proudly known as Palm Coast's "tennis ambassador" for over 30 years, "Clarence's continual participation in local tennis and his enthusiasm for the game boosts the spirit and quality of play for all who know and love him," said Reggie Hunter, marketing director for the Palm Coast Tennis Center.

Mayor Jon Netts presented Custer with a proclamation and a complimentary membership to the Palm Coast Tennis Center. Friends of Tennis hosted the event with refreshments followed by a round robin for attending players.

Blake Wins Sarasota Open Challenger Tennis Title

Blake10James Blake's comeback tour took another leap forward when the former world No. 4 captured the title Sunday at the Sarasota Open, a USTA Pro Circuit event, defeating Alex Bogomolov Jr. 6-2, 6-2 at The Tennis Gardens at the Longboat Key Club and Resort in Sarasota, Fla.

The 31-year-old Tampa resident collected his first tournament title in approximately four years, and is currently battling a knee problem in attempts to bring his ranking up to again qualify for direct entrance into ATP events and Grand Slams.

"It's been a long while, and it's a relief," Blake told reporters following the win. "I was telling my friends I wonder if I remembered how to win a title. Luckily, I did and played some of my best tennis all week today. I am happy about it and seeing if I can go forward and keep this up, and the way I felt today I think I can."

Blake relied on his experience in defeating an opponent who did not come at him with an overwhelming amount of firepower.

"He doesn't have an over-powering serve to blow me off the court," Blake said. "I just stayed in the match and got my chances with my serve. I really started putting pressure on him, and if I can dictate with my forehand, I like my chances against almost anyone...These young kids have fresh legs on me, but I've got a little experience and that pays off sometimes in the end, and today and yesterday it definitely did."

Blake will this week compete at the Savannah Challenger in Georgia, where he will be hoping for a result to lift his ranking enough for direct entry into Wimbledon prior to the draw cut-off in May.

USTA Florida Seeks Marketing, Membership & Sponsorship Coordinator
USTA FloridaSect_2cUSTA Florida is seeking a marketing, membership and sponsorship coordinator. This position is full-time and will be based out of the USTA Florida Headquarters in Daytona Beach, Fla. 

Some of the main responsibilities for the position include:

* Design and deliver marketing campaigns and/or strategies to aid in the development and growth of tennis in Florida.

* Grow and retain a positive percentage of USTA membership in Florida through a variety of programs, events, incentives, pro-circuit tournaments and special offers.

* Secure revenue generating sponsors for our flagship programs, tournaments and special events.

All interested candidates should submit a resume and cover letter to Andy McFarland at mcfarland@florida.usta.com. Experience in sports marketing and knowledge about tennis is a plus. A detailed position description is available upon request. Please note with the expectation of many submissions, we will contact you if we are interested in discussing the position further. For more information on USTA Florida go to www.ustaflorida.com.






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