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Florida Tennis Briefs(8): Orange Bowl Move; Tampa Youth Sports Expo; Pensacola 10-U Play Day; More

April 7, 2011 03:48 PM
Nichols Receives Seniors Service Tennis Award from USTA National

Carolyn Nichols, who divides her residences between Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., received the USTA Seniors Service Award, presented during the USTA Semi-Annual Meeting on April 3, 2011 in Naples, Fla.

The Seniors Service Award was established in 1958 and is given annually to the person most deserving of the respect and honor of all seniors. It is awarded on the basis of the recipient's willingness, cooperation and participation, either in play or organizational work, for the betterment and furtherance of senior competition. The award was first awarded to W. Dickson Cunningham of Rahway, N.J., for whom the trophy is named.

Nichols is a prolific blogger for her personal website and for www.ustaflorida.com, recently blogging from the ITF World Senior Team Championships in New Zealand where she was the No. 1 player on the title-winning U.S. Maureen Connolly Cup squad (women's 55 division).

In 2010 she won the USTA National 55 hard and clay court singles titles, and the ITF World doubles title in the 55+ division, and finished the year ranked No. 1 in the U.S. and No. 2 in the world in her age division.

Orange Bowl Tennis Jr. Event Moves to Plantation, Fla., and Claycourts

dunlop orange bowl logo 2010USTA Player Development announced this week that the Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships, one of the most prestigious international junior events in the U.S., will return this year to its claycourt roots for the first time since 1998. The Orange Bowl will move to the Frank Veltri Tennis Center in Plantation, Fla., after spending the last 13 years at the Crandon Park Tennis Center in Key Biscayne, Fla. The 2011 Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships will be held Dec. 5-11, 2011, and will continue to feature singles and doubles competition for boys and girls in 18-and-under and 16-and-under divisions.

The Orange Bowl, which will celebrate its 65th year of competition in 2011, was played for 51 years on the claycourts of Miami Beach's Flamingo Park. In 1998, the event moved to the hardcourts of the Crandon Park Tennis Center, home of the recently-completed Sony Ericsson Open. Roger Federer and Elena Dementieva won the initial Orange Bowl 18s championships held at Crandon Park. 

The change of venue is a result of USTA Player Development General Manager Patrick McEnroe's vision to incorporate more claycourt training and claycourt events into the junior tennis calendar. 

"USTA Director of Coaching Jose Higueras and I firmly believe that providing our juniors with more training and competition on clay will ultimately lead to more well-rounded players, and will better serve these players as their careers progress," McEnroe said. "Moving our largest and most prestigious international event back to clay will help teach our players more court awareness and better movement."

The Frank Veltri Tennis Center in Plantation, Fla., is a public facility featuring 26 lighted claycourts that will allow the facility to host every main draw and qualifying match in both the 18s and 16s age groups. The facility currently hosts the first USTA Pro Circuit Futures event of the year in January and the USTA Girls' 14s National Clay Court Championships in July.

Founded in by Eddie Herr in 1947, the Orange Bowl quickly became one of the premier international junior events in the world, and an annual showcase for the global scope of the game. The event annually hosts more than 500 of the world's top juniors from more than 70 countries. Champions have emerged from 24 different nations, and a number of those champions have used the occasion to announce plans to turn professional. Other past winners of the Orange Bowl 18-and-under singles titles include: Chris Evert (1969, 1970), Bjorn Borg (1972), John McEnroe (1976), Ivan Lendl (1977), Gabriela Sabatini (1984), Mary Joe Fernandez (1986), Jim Courier (1987) and Anna Kournikova (1995). Winning the event when it was held on hardcourts were Andy Roddick (1999), Vera Zvonareva (2000, 2001), Marcos Baghdatis (2003), Nicole Vaidisova (2003), and current World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki (2005).

Bollettieri Featured Speaker at 1st Annual Tampa Bay Youth Sports Expo

Nick Bollettieri
Kids of all ages with big-league dreams will have the opportunity to learn from the pros at the 1st annual Tampa Bay Youth Sports Expo presented by The Skills Center, a nonprofit, sport-based youth development organization. To be held at the Tampa Convention Center on Saturday, April 23, 2011, the one-day event will gather professional athletes, trainers and sports experts to offer an interactive experience where kids and their families can learn new skills both on and off the field.

"We wanted to create an event that would demonstrate the importance of positive youth sports in the Tampa Bay area and provide a day of sports-focused educational workshops, trainings and resources that the community really needs," said Ken Roberts, vice president of business development for The Skills Center and chair of the Tampa Bay Youth Sports Expo committee. "This is a great opportunity for kids, parents, coaches and athletic program administrators to learn from the best."

The Expo will feature Interactive Skills Zones where professional sports teams -- like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Rays and the Rowdies -- will put on a series of scheduled sport clinics and demonstrations for girls and boys ages 6 to 18. In addition to football, baseball and soccer, other Zones will feature top trainers and professional athletes in hockey, tennis, golf, cheer/dance, volleyball and more.

While children participate in the Interactive Skills Zones, their parents, coaches, and youth program administrators have the opportunity to attend a series of educational workshops. Presented by local and national youth sports organizations and leading sport experts, the workshops will address topics including: positive coaching techniques, sports injury prevention, sports nutrition and childhood obesity, preparing your student athlete for college, and more. The day will also feature a keynote address by world-renowned tennis coach Nick Bollettieri. An accomplished author, speaker and advocate for youth tennis, Bollettieri has coached 10 No. 1 players in the world including Andre Agassi, Maria Sharapova and the Williams sisters, Venus and Serena. He will share his multi-faceted approach to building athletes on the court as well as preparing them for a successful life off of the court.

During the Expo, families can also browse the Exhibit Zone, which will showcase the best the region has to offer in sports camps, amateur teams and leagues, local specialty sport retailers and youth sport organizations. Current and retired professional athletes and coaches from local professional sport teams will also be on hand to meet and greet fans in the Expo's Autograph Zone.
USTA Florida, Tampa Tennis at HCC and the Hillsborough County Tennis Association will be offering 10 and Under Tennis featuring the QuickStart play format during the afternoon sessions in the Interactive Zone, as well as providing after-school and summer youth tennis program information.

"This event is really about giving families the opportunity to experience youth sports in a fun, interactive learning environment," Roberts said. "Sports can benefit our kids and our communities in so many ways, teaching them life and leadership skills that will serve them well on the playing field, in the classroom and throughout their lives. We hope that this event gives families a glimpse of what positive youth sports can do and encourages them to get involved in sports year round." 
The Tampa Bay Youth Sports Expo will be held on Saturday, April 23, 2011, at the Tampa Convention Center. Doors open at 9 a.m. with Skills Zones, workshops and other events scheduled throughout the day. Admission is $5 to $15. Participants are encouraged to register early to reserve their space at the workshops and Skills Zones they wish to attend. Registration is now open at: http://www.tbyse.com/tampa_bay_youth_sports_expo_registrations.html.

USTA Boys' & Girls' 12 National Spring Championships, Delray Beach, Begins April 10

USTA_BOYS___GIRLS_12-logoThe USTA Boys' & Girls' 12 National Spring Championships hosted by the City of Delray Beach will be held on April 10-15, 2011. The National Championship field consists of the highest-ranked 256 boys and girls in the nation in the 12 & under age division. 

Competitors will gather in Palm Beach County to compete for the coveted USTA Gold Ball -- the most sought-after trophy in American junior tennis.

"The Gold Ball is everything if you're a junior," says Ivan Baron, tournament chairman, recalling his days as a top American junior and holder of the No. 1 world junior ranking. "I won quite a few national and international tournaments while playing in the juniors and as a pro, so I have several trophies that I packed and stored away. But the Gold Balls, those I'll never get rid of."

The Delray Beach field will contain nine out of the Top 10 boys and seven out of the Top 10 girls in the country. Local favorites to look out for in the girls' draw include: Hurricane Tyra Black (Boca Raton), Rachel Katerina Papavasilopoulos (Boca Raton), Mya Fuentes (Boca Raton), Clare McKee (Boca Raton), No. 17-seeded Magdalena Dobinda (Deerfield Beach), Nicole Conard (Boca Raton) and Carly Brooke Feldman (Delray Beach), and on the boys' side Christian Alshon (Boca Raton).

The Delray Beach Stadium and Tennis Center will serve as the main venue for the semis (April 14) and the finals (April 15, weather pending), as the tournament will be creating a televised highlight show covering the finals of both divisions on April 15. The three other venues also hosting matches (from April 10-13) include Delray Swim and Tennis Club, Broken Sound Country Club, and from April 10-11 matches will be played at Boca West Country Club.

For more information go to www.YellowTennisBall.com.

Winter USTA Orlando Flex League Crowns Champions

Mixed doubles winners Lee and Fabio Okubo of Lake Mary
Twelve singles and doubles champions were crowned in March at the USTA Orlando Flex League Playoff Tournament, which featured the top flight winners battling for supremacy in their divisions.

"It's gives them an extra chance to play some more while having a great time enjoying a fun tournament experience for those who haven't played in one," said USTA Orlando Flex League organizer Chelsea Underwood. "I actually get a chance to watch them play and love meeting and talking with them."

Winter Playoff Tournament winners were Sue Gagne (Orlando) defeating Nancy Bramley (Windermere) in the Women's 3.0 singles final; Charles Chase (Winter Park) defeating Harry Dumford (Orlando) in the Men's 3.0 singles final; Lee and Fabio Okubo (Lake Mary) defeating Matthew and Anne Flenner (Apopka) in the mixed doubles final; Terri Bahr (Longwood) and Mary Townes (Maitland) defeating Carla Bray and Kelly Bushley (Winter Springs) in the women's doubles final; Bahr defeating Rebecca Marek (Sorrento) in the Women's 4.0 singles final; and Aaron Hamilton (Orlando) winning the Men's 4.0 singles title.
The event was held at Sylvan Lake Park. The spring division of the USTA Orlando Flex League is currently underway, and features more than 100 players. For more info on USTA Flex Leagues go to www.ustaflex.com.

Team Named for U.S. Fed Cup Do-or-Die World Group Playoff vs. Germany

The U.S. Fed Cup team has their collective back to the wall in terms of staying in the World Group for 2012 when they travel to the red clay of Stuttgart on April 16-17, 2011, to face Germany. The loser of the encounter will drop out of World Group I play for 2012.

The U.S. has spent all 48 years of Fed Cup play, since the competition debuted in 1963, in the World Group, winning more titles (17) than any other nation, including seven straight victories between 1976 and 1982.
This week U.S. Fed Cup Captain Mary Joe Fernandez announced that her core group of Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Melanie Oudin, and former world No. 1 doubles player Liezel Huber will be joined by Christina McHale, who recently broke into the Top 100 for the first time, in representing the U.S. against Germany in the 2011 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group Playoff. Mattek-Sands, Oudin and Huber led the U.S. to consecutive Fed Cup finals the past two seasons, while McHale made her only Fed Cup appearance in the 2010 first round against France. Venus Williams has committed to attend the tie and support her compatriots, though she is not expected to play for the U.S. due to injury.

"The Germans are a strong young team made up of a very talented group of players," Fernandez said. "Playing on foreign soil is always a difficult task, but our team will be ready to play hard and try to ensure that we can compete for the Fed Cup title once again next year." 

German Captain Barbara Rittner has nominated No. 19-ranked Andrea Petkovic, No. 35 Julia Goerges, and veterans Sabine Lisicki and Anna Lena Groenefeld, whose rankings have dipped outside the Top 150 due to injuries in 2010.

The 18-year-old McHale has had a hot hand in 2011, and could join Mattek-Sands in singles as clay is not Oudin's strongest surface. This year McHale defeated two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova en route to the third round at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, and is currently ranked a career-high No. 97. McHale won the 2009 USTA Girls' 18s National Championships to earn a main draw wildcard into the 2009 US Open, where she won her first-round match before losing to Maria Sharapova. 

The U.S. has only competed in the World Group Playoffs on two occasions -- both at home -- most recently in 2002. That year Lindsay Davenport and Monica Seles powered the U.S. back into the World Group 5-0 against Israel.

The weekend matches will be broadcast live on Tennis Channel.

Florida's Cercone, Miami's Eichkorn Earn Women's Tennis Honors

The University of Florida's Alex Cercone (Seminole, Fla.) was named the Southeastern Conference Women's Tennis Freshman of the Week for the third time this year, and University of Miami senior Bianca Eichkorn was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Women's Tennis Player of the Week for the fourth time this season.

The Gator rookie Cercone won all four singles and doubles matches she played last week, helping Florida (19-1, 8-0 SEC) keep pace in the SEC regular-season championship race. She blanked Kentucky's Marni Venter 6-0, 6-0 before rallying for a hard-fought 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 win against Vanderbilt's No. 118 Rachael Dillon that helped the Gators preserve the dual match sweep. Cercone extended her singles win streak to five, with a 7-1 dual match record against SEC opponents.

In doubles Cercone continued to play with sophomore Allie Will (Boca Raton, Fla.) at the No. 1 position, and the pair won both road matches last week, including the 8-5 decision that clinched the doubles point against Kentucky and the 8-4 win against the Commodores' No. 58 team that gave Florida one of its two wins that clinched the initial team point. Cercone and Will are now 6-0 as a team, with a 5-0 record in SEC dual matches.

Eichkorn remained undefeated in ACC singles play in the No. 1 position with a pair of convincing wins over ranked opponents. Eichkorn defeated Wake Forest's 24th-ranked Martina Pavelec 6-1, 6-1, in Miami's 6-1 win over the Demon Deacons before turning in a 6-0, 6-0 victory over 29th-ranked Sanaa Bhambri of NC State.

The wins moved Eichkorn's singles record to 28-6 overall, 17-2 in dual match play and a perfect 8-0 in ACC play at Miami's top singles position. She has now won 18 straight regular-season matches in ACC play and is 34-3 all-time in conference dual match play. The Tengen, Germany native is also now just three singles victories shy of tying former teammate Laura Vallverdu's program record of 131 career singles wins.

In doubles Eichkorn teamed with Anna Bartenstein to pick up two wins over ranked teams in the Hurricanes' No. 1 doubles spot. The 11th-ranked tandem took down 14th-ranked Kathryn Talbert and Kayla Duncan of Wake Forest 8-5, and NC State's 26th-ranked team of Bhambri and Sandhya Nagaraj 8-4.

Pensacola Celebrates USTA Florida 'Share the Love' Grant with 10 and Under Tennis Play Day

The Roger Scott Tennis Center in Pensacola, Fla., hosted a 10 and Under Tennis Play Day in March to celebrate the $5,000 'Share the Love' Grant awarded to the City of Pensacola by USTA Florida for the purchase of 10 and under equipment. The city received a dozen nets, 140 racquets and all four stages of 10 and Under Tennis balls for distribution to five city community centers.

The facility also celebrated the installation of permanent 10 and Under Tennis lines on 12 of the Roger Scott hardcourts. The 10 and Under Tennis court lines came courtesy of a USTA national grant arranged by Virgil Christian, USTA national director of community tennis development.

Over 50 community center kids played games, hit for prizes and had refreshments courtesy of USTA Florida. Washington High School tennis team players, along with their coach and Roger Scott Junior Director Michael Edge, volunteered their time for the event. Among the honorees in attendance were Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward, City of Pensacola Parks and Recreation Director David Flaherty, USTA Florida Local League Coordinator Cindy Lozier who initiated the grant application, Director of Tennis for Everyone Rita Dotson, and numerous community center staff.

"Bruce is a visionary and together with Rita Dotson, we wanted to see 10 and Under Tennis equipment available in every community center in the City of Pensacola," Lozier said.

Bruce Caton, the director of the Roger Scott Tennis Center, said the group overcame some initial hesitancy regarding the permanent 10 and Under Tennis lines that subtly mark the 36-foot and 60-foot boundaries on a regular 78-foot court.

"David and I have been excited about the QuickStart concept ever since its inception three years ago, and we at Roger Scott have been using the format in our junior programming ever since," Caton said. "We were hesitant, however, to install permanent 10 and Under Tennis lines because we were afraid of the possible negative member reaction. Michael Edge was a member of the Pensacola USTA 4.5 team that represented Florida in the USTA NTRP National Championships at Reffkin Tennis Center in Tucson, Ariz., in October 2010. There he noticed that most of the courts had the QuickStart lines, and he made it a point to ask Jim Reffkin if there had been any serious complaints about them. Jim replied he had received virtually no complaints. That is when I decided it was time for us to take the 10 and Under Tennis line plunge. If a facility that hosts numerous USTA national tournaments yearly did not receive a significant number of complaints, then I thought we would be fine, and that has turned out to be the case. If you are in a decision-making position at a hardcourt facility, I strongly suggest you consider the 10 and Under Tennis permanent lines. They save a ton of set up time."

Roger Scott Tennis Center, the 2007 USTA Florida Member Organization of the Year, remains on the cutting edge of tennis, and is currently one of the clubs across Florida hosting USTA Florida's new USTA F.L. (Fun League) Tennis Blast events, which seek to introduce new players and re-introduce players who have been out of the game.

In the spring of 2010, with the USTA's assistance, Roger Scott added 10 hydrocourts to their existing 18 hardcourt facility. Now with 28 courts, Roger Scott has great flexibility to conduct a wide variety of USTA programs, as well as other large and small events, while continuing to allow courts for recreational public play. USTA events hosted by Roger Scott Tennis Center include the Pensacola Open Wheelchair Championship, Boys and Girls National Open 16s, and the newly-added Pensacola Men's Futures Tournament.

"With 10 and Under Tennis equipment now readily available in every community center, Rita Dotson's 10-year-old community center outreach tennis program, Tennis for Everyone, now has the tools necessary to assist them in their work toward becoming a USTA First Serve chapter," Caton said. "All these efforts bring Pensacola closer to achieving their ultimate goal of being considered for USTA's 'America's Best Tennis Town.'"

For more information go to www.playpensacola.com/pages.asp?pageID=12837.






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