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Florida Tennis Briefs: Stephens Profile; Region 8 Column; PTR News

December 1, 2010 04:13 PM
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Sloane Stephens (photo: zootennis.com)
Sloane Stephens Collecting Jr. Slam Doubles Titles

by Colette Lewis, TennisLife-Florida junior tennis columnist

Seventeen-year-old Sloane Stephens of Ft. Lauderdale may need an additional trophy case just to hold the hardware from the 2010 junior slams. 

Playing together for the first time at the 2010 French Open, Stephens and Timea Babos of Hungary clicked immediately, winning the girls' doubles title. A few weeks later, the pair triumphed at Wimbledon, and in September they again proved too much for the other 31 teams, taking the US Open girls' doubles title. In New York, Babos and Stephens, the No. 3 seeds, were declared the champions when an injury prevented An-Sophie Mestach of Belgium and Silvia Njiric of Croatia from playing the final match. Despite the anticlimactic end to the tournament, Stephens could still appreciate the accomplishment.

"It's awesome," Stephens said. "With Timea, we're really good friends. On the court, we're good together and off the court we're good together. Last year I had such bad luck with doubles partners, but this is a pretty good payoff, and I'm happy."

Stephens also reached the semifinals in the US Open girls singles, falling in a third-set tiebreaker to eventual champion Daria Gavrilova of Russia. Stephens will now concentrate on improving her WTA ranking, currently in the 200s, with the hope that by the 2011 US Open, she will receive automatic entry into the women's main draw.

Although Stephens is presently living in Southern California and training at the USTA's Player Development Center in Carson, she considers Florida her home.

"I love Florida, it's awesome," said Stephens, who was born in Ft. Lauderdale. "I feel at home there, my uncles are there, and I always have a lot of fun there. I know street names, I know how to get around, I can give people directions. I'm just comfortable there."

Although she may be at ease on the tennis court and in the Sunshine State, there's one arena she hasn't yet conquered.

"I follow basketball, but I'm just awful," Stephens said. "At Home Depot Center in Carson where I train, we play basketball, but they never pass me the ball."


 
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The author (second from left in the back) and her 4.0 team from the Swim & Racquet Club in Boca Raton
Love It or League It

By Barbara Eisner Bayer, TennisLife-Florida Region 8 (North Gold Coast) columnist

As 2010 comes to a close, it's time to reflect on special tennis experiences. For me, it was the opportunity to play in three different USTA leagues in two different states -- one in South Florida, and two in upstate New York. How do leagues across the country compare?

The major advantage that the Empire State has over the southern part of the Sunshine State can be summed up in two words -- indoor courts. Just think -- no wind or sun to blame for your mis-hits. No funny bounces or skidding off lines -- just you, the ball, and the court. The hardcourts may wreak havoc on backs and knees, but that's a small price to pay for not having a fifth player -- the wind -- in your face.

Barry Densa has played USTA league tennis in South Florida, Colorado, and California, and prefers the California hardcourts for his game, but Florida's abundant Har-Tru for his body.

"In Colorado, the public courts are, shall we say, weather worn," Densa says. "But the indoor facilities are decent, and played super fast." In Colorado, they use high-altitude balls with less pressure -- dead balls on Florida's beaches -- and topspin is difficult. It's high-velocity play, where the ball cuts through the court like a bullet.

Atlanta, Ga., is a huge tennis town, where the ALTA (Atlanta Lawn Tennis Association) leagues dwarf those of the USTA. Candy Shedden, who has played league tennis in South Florida and Atlanta, notes that the USTA offers opportunities to compete nationally whereas ALTA -- although extremely popular -- is only local. Shedden feels that Atlanta players are a little more dedicated to their leagues than their Florida counterparts.

"How many South Floridians would play a mixed-doubles make-up match on a Wednesday night when it was 35 degrees with a 20 mph wind?" asks Shedden. "Atlanta players would!"

But maybe the most significant difference in my experience was the food. In Florida, we bring no food to our USTA matches, although most of the teams in California, Colorado, and Georgia bring light snacks. But in Poughkeepsie, NY, where USTA is the only game in town, there was a veritable buffet of delectable choices, along with beer and wine.

I'll keep my tennis focused in Florida, where there's ample opportunity to play all year round on the Har-Tru courts. But I think I prefer my post-match celebrations in New York.

Happy holidays!


New PTR Education and Certification Pathway to Include 10-and-Under Tennis

PTR.jpgProfessional Tennis Registry (PTR) has created three basic certifications to fit the needs of tennis teaching professionals worldwide. Beginning in 2011, PTR's education and certification pathway will be geared toward three distinct areas: Junior Development, Adult Development and Performance. In addition, PTR has a Master of Tennis Program in these three areas for teaching professionals who want to further their education.  

"With the ITF's historic rule change that will have a positive effect on 10-and-under play around the world, PTR is taking a leading position in supporting this initiative. We have totally restructured our education and certification pathway to meet the needs of teaching professionals, their employers, their students and our sport," said Dan Santorum, PTR CEO. "The pathway will initially be piloted in the United States. PTR board members/staff will be visiting USTA Sections and Districts to answer questions and explain how our new pathway can help facilitate the growth of the game."

PTR President Jean Mills, the former USTA Florida president from 1998-2000 and current president of the Florida Foundation, lauded the decision.

"I've been involved with PTR from the very beginning," Mills said. "This is the most progressive change PTR has ever made. For the first time, teaching professionals will have choices as to which area they want to be certified to teach tennis."
 

 
 

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