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Florida Tennis Briefs(4): U.S. Out of Fed Cup World Group; Young Beats Blake En Route to Tallahassee Title

April 18, 2011 12:53 PM
U.S. Fed Cup Out of World Group for 1st Time

FedCupLogoThe U.S. Fed Cup team lost to Germany 5-0 over the weekend on the slow red clay in Stuttgart during the World Group Playoffs, knocking the American team out of the World Group for the first time since the inception of the Fed Cup international competition in 1963.

Germany's Andrea Petkovic defeated Melanie Oudin in straight sets to clinch the tie for Germany 3-0 on Sunday. In the previous day's opening matches, Petkovic defeated American Christina McHale 6-3, 6-4, and Julia Goerges defeated Oudin 6-2, 7-6(5). With the loss the United States is relegated to Fed Cup World Group II next year and will be unable to compete for the 2012 title for the first time in the history of the competition.

"Tough weekend," said U.S. Captain Mary Joe Fernandez. "We've got to give a lot of credit to the entire German team. They really played great throughout the weekend from start to finish. They were tough and played extremely well with a lot of confidence...[The U.S. squad] is a very young team. But they've come a long way in a very short amount of time. There's still a lot to prove and a lot to learn, and get better."

The U.S. relied on teenagers Oudin and McHale after Bethanie Mattek-Sands withdrew citing a hip injury, and Venus and Serena Williams remain on the injured reserve list.

The loss to Germany ends a long run of success for the U.S., which has the most Fed Cup titles (17) of any country, and also holds the record for most consecutive titles, winning seven in a row from 1976-1982. The winning U.S. squads in that seven-year stretch included singles stand-outs Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Andrea Jaeger, Tracy Austin, Billie Jean King and Rosie Casals.

Young Beats Odesnik for Tallahassee Challenger Title; Adopt-a-Unit Featured

No. 7 seed Donald Young of Atlanta captured the Tallahassee Tennis Challenger title on Saturday, defeating Florida's unseeded Wayne Odesnik, who needed to qualify into the main draw, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

En route to the final Young upended No. 1-seeded German Rainer Schuettler and fellow American James Blake in the semifinals of the $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit event. For Young it was his first USTA Pro Circuit title since May of 2010.

James Blake at the Tallahassee Challenger's Adopt-a-Unit display
"It's really exciting to get a tournament win this year," Young told reporters after the match. "Hopefully I can keep it going. I've been playing well this year...My speed is something I've been working on all season. I've been fast but not able to do it all the time so I worked on it quite a bit and I'm happy about that."

In the doubles final No. 3-seeded Vasek Pospisil of Canada and American Bobby Reynolds defeated Japan's Go Soeda and James Ward of Great Britain 6-2, 6-4.

Special events scheduled throughout the week included a pro-am to benefit breast cancer, a Boys & Girls Club/Boys Town Tennis Jamboree, QuickStart Clinics for elementary school children, free USPTA clinics, the Special Olympics Tennis Carnival serving more than 300 special-needs students, and the USTA Adopt-a-Unit drive and the honoring of military veterans on center court between matches on Thursday.

Tennis players can support U.S. troops through the "Adopt-A-Unit" program, which encourages USTA Community Tennis Associations (CTAs) and other groups to provide care packages of simple items such as hand sanitizers, socks, hard candy, toiletries, etc. More information about this program can be found at www.usta.com/military. Also check out the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/USTAMilitaryOutreach. USTA Serves, the charitable arm of USTA National, will then follow-up by mailing portable tennis equipment to the unit. Several units are currently waiting to be adopted. More information can be found at www.usta.com/military or e-mail kwrightusta@gmail.com.

The Tallahassee Challenger is one of only nine USTA Pro Circuit events that have been held for 19 years or more. Players winning titles at USTA Pro Circuit events on their way up the rankings have included current or former No. 1s Caroline Wozniacki, Maria Sharapova, Justine Henin, Jelena Jankovic, and Andy Roddick.

Tamiami Tennis Center in Miami Trains Special Olympians

The Tamiami Tennis Center in Miami was for the fifth consecutive year the tennis training site for the 2010 Special Olympics Summer Games Competition, where more than 100 intellectually-challenged athletes took part in tennis skills competitions on April 9, 2011, at Miami-Dade College Kendall Campus.

Three days of tennis training at the Tamiami Tennis Center on April 4, 11, and 25 with more than 100 athletes led up to the Summer Games competition, with the local Tamiami community rallying to help the special athletes.

"Each year it is rewarding to see how much they have improved and to see the dedication of the teachers who incorporate tennis into their daily school activities," said USTA Florida Miami-area Tennis Program Coordinator Cathy Nordlund. "The three workshops were hosted by the Tamiami Tennis Center, and their staff have been great volunteering their time to prepare the athletes for the day of competition."

Other local volunteers, among them USTA Florida Board of Directors member Nancy Horowitz, assisted on both the practice days and the day of the competition.

"Like mainstream tennis, Special Olympics tennis gives athletes the opportunity to learn and perform a variety of skills that can be played throughout life," Nordlund said. "In addition to offering traditional singles and doubles events, Special Olympics offers individual skills competition to allow athletes to train and compete in basic tennis skills. The development of these key skills is necessary prior to advancing to match play.
"It was great to see the staff from the area parks who received 'Share the Love' grants learning how to implement the six components of QuickStart into their after-school and summer camps," Nordlund said. "Kenny Hernandez, who is a wheelchair tennis tournament player, wants to be trained to be a coach. We are thrilled to have Kenny as a volunteer at our new wheelchair tennis program for juniors that just started at Tamiami Tennis Center, and Kenny will be a role model for this kids and will be able to share his love of the game with them."

Special Olympics of Miami-Dade County strives to replace the idea of disability with the idea of diverse ability, and provides year-round sports training and athletic competition where individuals can demonstrate courage, develop physical fitness, build friendships and feel a sense of accomplishment. Other Summer Games sports offered include bowling, cycling, golf, volleyball, soccer, basketball, roller skating, gymnastics, softball, swimming, equestrian, power lifting, and track and field. 

"USTA Florida has helped to make our Special Olympians better tennis players today than they were before I came on board," said Special Olympics Miami-Dade County Sport Training and Competition Director Ricky D. Hemingway. "The excellent instruction lead by Ms. Susan Allhouse and Mrs. Cathy Nordland is a godsend. The certification workshops have improved my coaches' ability to coach our tennis athletes far better than in the past."
Tennis Play Day for Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando County Florida Players

From left to right: Jeanne Matthews, Ruth Ann Ott,
Barbara Jones and Christina Hill
Play Day attendees
Tennis players from Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, and Hernando Counties in Florida participated in a "Fun Play Day" event on April 10, 2011, at the New Port Richey Recreation Center tennis courts.

Information regarding USTA Leagues was discussed and questions answered concerning organized league play was given, followed by two hours of informal play. 

Everyone played tennis, exchanging partners and a lot of fun and excitement," said Pinellas County Local League Coordinator Ruth Ann Ott, who organized the event with Hillsborough County Local League Coordinators Jeanne Matthews and Barbara Jones. "The goal of the coordinators was to familiarize tennis players with USTA League procedures, type of leagues, and dates of play so that USTA League tennis will grow in Pasco and Hernando Counties. It was also a goal for tennis players to meet other players from their general areas who may be interested in joining and forming teams."

Christina Hill, community tennis director for Pasco County, also assisted the coordinators and provided refreshments and support for the event.

For more information e-mail Ruth Ann Ott at raott@tampabay.rr.com.





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