From USTA League National Championships to hosting the Davis Cup and Fed Cup, to giving campaigns, tennis charity events, national awards and even tennis at an NFL game, 2013 was an exciting year for Florida tennis.
Here is a trip down memory lane with some of the outstanding events, awards received, and accomplishments in the USTA Florida Section in 2013:
The USTA and USTA Florida hosted the Davis Cup in Jacksonville, including a local play day at an elementary school and the U.S. squad besting Brazil to advance to the second round.
Teams from Duval (Jacksonville), Leon (Tallahassee), Marion (Ocala), and South Miami-Dade (Key Biscayne) counties captured USTA Florida Section league titles at the season-ending 2012 USTA Florida Combo Adult 6.5 & 8.5 League Championships.
Teams from Duval County (Jacksonville) and Marion County (Ocala) each swept to two titles, and a team from Escambia County was also a Florida Section champion at the year-ending 2012 USTA Florida Section Combo Adult 5.5, 7.5 & 9.5 Championships.
The Panda Foundation, Inc., of Bradenton, Fla., was named one of 34 community tennis and education organization grant recipients from USTA Serves, the national charitable foundation of the United States Tennis Association.
John Gugel of Orlando was named Stringer of the Year, and Joe Habenschuss of the South Florida region was named Tennis Sales Rep of the Year when Racquet Sports Industry Magazine unveiled its 2012 "Champions of Tennis."
Orlando's Marcelo Gouts was named the USTA Florida January Volunteer of the Month. "I love working with USTA Florida in ways to grow the game, and provide a positive opportunity to the community to get involved in the sport of a lifetime," Gouts said. "Play Days, Tennis Festivals and Jr. Team Tennis have been perfect examples of the effectiveness of our association impacting the tennis industry in our area."
Former No. 1 Carlos Moya topping John McEnroe 6-4, 6-2 in the final of the ATP Champions Tour event at the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships.
Jacksonville's MaliVai Washington Kids Foundation was recognized as a Merit Finalist for Mutual of America's Community Partnership Award, with the USTA Florida Community Tennis Association receiving a $20,000 donation.
The University of Florida club tennis team defeated the UCF team for the year-ending USTA Florida Tennis on Campus title, with both teams advancing to the USTA Tennis on Campus National Championships.
The USTA Florida Tri-Level league tennis men's team from Daytona Beach, and the women's team from Jacksonville advanced to represent the USTA Florida Section at the 2013 BNP Paribas Open Tri-Level Championship after clinching berths at the USTA Florida Section Tri-Level League Play-Offs.
The ROGY (for the Red, Orange, Green, and Yellow ball progressions) Tennis 'Tourn-events' kids event series was announced, offering three-hour play periods where children age 8-18 hone their tennis skills in a fun, no-pressure format using modified equipment. "These three-hour events feature fun match play, without the pressure of rankings," says Andy McFarland, associate executive director of USTA Florida. "ROGY is ideal for youth players of all ages who want to improve their game by playing opponents with a similar skill level, in a time format that doesn't take up a parent's entire day or weekend."
The USTA national office, USTA Florida, and the City of Jacksonville announced they will refurbish courts at the Clanzel T. Brown Park tennis facility in Jacksonville, Fla., as a part of the USTA's Davis Cup Legacy program. The program, begun more than a decade ago, is designed to leave a permanent tennis legacy in the communities which host Davis Cup ties in the United States. The $42,000 projected was jointly funded by the USTA, the USTA Florida section, and the City of Jacksonville. With a Davis Cup Legacy, USTA Professional and Community tennis partner to leave a lasting impression in communities that host Davis Cup ties.
Palm Harbor's Christopher Wyman was named USTA Florida Tennis Volunteer of the Month. Wyman applies his profession as a financial analyst to his passion as president (and past treasurer) for the Suncoast Tennis Foundation in the Hillsborough-Pinellas counties area -- and the financials, and the popularity and growth of tennis, are solid.
USTA national, along with the City of Miami Parks and Recreation Department and the USTA Florida Section, celebrated the refurbishment and creation of 10,000 youth-sized tennis courts in the United States as part of USTA's commitment to First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move!" initiative. The event, "Court 10K," took place at the Tamiami Tennis Center, the largest facility with permanent youth-sized courts in the country.
Pompano Beach's Tom Garlough, who in 1976-77 saw the United States Tennis Association-Florida Section (USTA Florida, then known as the Florida Tennis Association) through some of its most formidable years as president, and as a member of multiple committees during his long volunteer tenure, died at age 83. "We have always tried to be one of the most progressive sections of the USTA," Garlough wrote in the President's Message for the 1977 Florida Tennis Association Yearbook. "Our rankings system has long been regarded as one of the best and fairest systems in the United States. Now we are going to have all our junior singles rankings done by computer. This is a great step forward and other sections are following our progress carefully."
Tier One Tennis in Coral Gables was awarded a $7,500 grant towards their competitive junior development programs that train youngsters who are aspiring to achieve national and/or international rankings. It was part of USTA national's $75,000 in Multicultural Excellence Tennis Grants to 10 community tennis organizations across the country.
USTA Florida partnered with the 'Growing Champions for Life' parent resources website of guru David Benzel to provide tennis parents with monthly tips and advice. "As a parent I have found David's information invaluable not only for sports, but as a parent in general," said USTA Florida Executive Director Doug Booth.
Floridians Kathy Rinaldi and Gardner Mulloy received special recognitions during the International Hall of Fame Awards Luncheon, held at the Bonaventure Resort & Spa in Weston, Fla., during the USTA Annual Meeting and Conference.
Mark Morgenstern was named the March 2013 Volunteer of the Month for his service to U.S. veterans, their families, and introducing new generations of players to the game of tennis.
Florida USTA Leagues teams captured a national championship and finished in fourth place at the USTA League 6.0 & 8.0 Super Senior National Championships in Surprise, Ariz. The championships concluded the 2012 USTA Super Senior league season. The men from Daytona Beach captured the 6.0 Super Seniors national title, finishing ahead of second place Indianapolis, Ind. A team from Collier County (The Strand, Naples) finished fourth after falling to USTA Caribbean (San Juan, P.R.) in the 3rd/4th place playoff.
Teams from Volusia/Flagler counties (Oceans Racquet & Recreation Club, Daytona Beach Shores) and Lee/Charlotte counties (Park Meadow Tennis Club, Ft. Myers) captured state titles at the USTA Florida Adult Mixed 55 & Over League Section Championships.
Florida's Venus Williams was one of a number of celebrities speaking up for Cartoon Network's efforts against bullying, including the "Stop Bullying: Speak Up" initiative, and The Bully Effect, a half-hour CNN documentary abridged for family audiences.
Collier County (Naples and Marco Island teams) swept two titles, and Duval County (Jacksonville), Sarasota County (Sarasota), and St. Johns County (St. Augustine) were also winners during the USTA Florida Adult 65 & Over League Section Championships.
Mary Joe Fernandez captained Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Sloane Stephens, and Varvara Lepchenko past Sweden in the 2013 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group Playoff at the Delray Beach Tennis Center.
Boca Grove Golf and Tennis Club Tennis Director Richard Centerbar was named the 2013 USPTA Florida Pro of the Year. The honor is awarded annually to only one of approximately 1,600 USPTA Professionals throughout the state of Florida.
Mark Kessler, a physical education instructor at Michigan Avenue Elementary School in Saint Cloud, Fla., (located just below Orlando) was named the April USTA Florida Volunteer of the Month. When he saw a USTA Florida promotion for Tennis Festivals in March, the father of a young daughter took it upon himself to organize a school event where both students and parents could take to the courts.
Former NCAA doubles champ Jeff Dadamo, recently-graduated Florida State University player Amy Sargeant, and former ATP pro Jesse Witten and his sister Sarah captured titles at the US Open Playoffs-Florida Section tournament, held on the campus of Florida State University in Tallahassee, advancing to the national event.
Five Hundred screaming elementary school students, Volusia County school dignitaries, and Grand Slam finalists Todd Martin and MaliVai Washington celebrated the first school in Florida to feature permanent 36-foot and lined 60-foot kid-sized courts at Westside Elementary School in Daytona Beach. "Projects like this are the result of USTA Florida membership dollars," says USTA Florida Executive Director Doug Booth. "More than 90 percent of membership dollars are put back into the Florida community to build and repair courts, and fund other projects that grow tennis in communities. Thanks to our members state-wide who support our mission and make these projects possible."
Fort Myers tennis junior Hailey Grillo was named the May USTA Florida Volunteer of the Month for her work with special-needs adults, among other charitable endeavors.
The Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University men's tennis program made history when the top-ranked Eagles defeated the No. 2 Auburn Montgomery Warhawks 5-4 to capture the first national title in school history at the NAIA National Men's Tennis Championships in Mobile, Ala.
Local Tallahassee children from Bond, Gilchrist, Roberts and Springwood elementary schools -- numbering approximately 600 in all -- experienced the USTA 10 and Under Tennis format during the Pro Circuit's USTA Tallahassee Tennis Challenger at the Forestmeadows Tennis Complex in May thanks to over 135 volunteers from the community.
USTA Florida kicked off the first in a series of regional one-day 10 and Under Team Tennis Challenges at Airport Road Park in Port Orange, Fla. The USTA Florida 10 and Under Team Tennis Challenges are part of the state's Jr. Team Tennis (JTT) recreational track of events, which also include JTT Regionals events (debuting Fall 2013) and the annual USTA Florida JTT State Championships.
The 2013 Florida Cup wrapped up at PGA National Resort and Spa with the East team claiming a 33-17 win over the West. The East capitalized on 5-0 division sweeps in the 55's, 60's and 75's to win the Cup for the second time in three years, leaving the West with a 8-2 series lead after a decade of Cup play. The East squad was led by appearances from former ATP players Dick Stockton and Roscoe Tanner, who played in the 60's divisions.
Florida college tennis players received three honors when the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) announced its 2013 national award winners for NCAA Division II men's and women's tennis. The Men's ITA Rookie Player of the Year was Robin Marchione of Rollins College, the Women's ITA Rookie Player of the Year was Valentine Confalonieri of Lynn University, and the Women's ITA Player to Watch was Magda Riutort of Florida Southern College.
Robert Carlbo of Palm Harbor, Fla., was named PTR Professional of the Year. The award is presented to the PTR Professional who has displayed the highest standards of conduct and service to both tennis and PTR.
The MaliVai Washington Kids Foundation in Jacksonville was announced as part of 38 nation-wide awards to community tennis and education organizations totaling approximately $324,000 from USTA Serves, the national charitable foundation of USTA national. The MaliVai Washington Tennis Center was also featured in a local TV news story on 10 and Under Tennis.
USTA League 55-and-over teams from Collier, Duval, Escambia, and Pinellas counties captured USTA Florida Section state championships at the USTA Florida Adult 55 & Over 3.0/4.0 League Section Championships.
The USTA Florida Section Foundation, the charitable arm of USTA Florida, announced the appointment of B.J. Webb of Longboat Key, Fla., as volunteer president of the organization, replacing outgoing President Donn Davis who remains on the board.
Three Florida youth were announced as scholarship recipients when USTA Serves, the National Charitable Foundation of the USTA, distributed $395,000 in college scholarships to 58 high school students across the U.S. The Florida winners of scholarship awards were Cooper City High School senior Vincent Ong of Cooper City, Fla.; Stanton College Prep senior Lara Dedic of Jacksonville, Fla.; and St. Edward School senior Lolade Fadulu of Vero Beach, Fla.
Florida state junior champions in the 18s, 16s, 14s and 12s boys' and girls' divisions were crowned at the 65th USTA Florida 'Bobby Curtis' Junior State Championships. Historically the highest-quality USTA Section tournament in the country, the USTA Florida Section junior championships have launched the careers of past winners and future No. 1s Chris Evert, Jennifer Capriati, Jim Courier and Andy Roddick among other ATP and WTA tour players over the years.
Veteran players or players looking to get back in the game after injuries can now experience tennis on a whole new level after the debut of Masters Tennis in Florida. Played on a 60-foot court (lined within a regulation 78-foot court) with the lower-bouncing "orange ball" in singles or doubles, Masters Tennis is a great way for players to stay active and in the game, with a format more forgiving and accessible. "Clubs and players in Florida with our older demographic have been asking us for a program like this for years," says USTA Florida Executive Director Doug Booth. "Anyone can play with the smaller racquets, slower balls and smaller courts. Players who left the game due to age or injuries can again play with this format, truly making tennis the 'Sport of a Lifetime.'"
Jason Gilbert was presented with the USPTA Florida/USTA Florida Division Service Award by the United States Professional Tennis Association during the joint USPTA Florida/USTA Florida Semi-Annual Meeting, held at the PGA Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
USTA Florida launched a new Hispanic Outreach initiative, "Tenis para Todos" (Tennis for Everyone) designed to bring tennis to more Hispanic communities in Central and South Florida. "I understand first-hand the positive impact that tennis can have on Hispanic families and communities," said Maria Romo-Jackson, USTA Florida diversity & marketing coordinator. "Born and raised in Colombia, I was very fortunate to have been introduced to tennis at an early age. I started playing when I was five years old and it taught me discipline, hard work and social skills. When I first came to the United States, I did not speak many of the languages other kids spoke. Yet, we were able to communicate in the language of tennis. I am happy and excited to have an opportunity now to share the sport with Hispanic communities in Central and South Florida."
Ebony Evans-Molock of Ocala was named the July USTA Florida Volunteer of the Year. She began an eight-week 10 and Under Tennis fun league at her "home" Ft. King Tennis Center after seeing her daughter thrive in a similar program at another club. "Our 10 and Under Tennis program started with 13 players on a Saturday morning in May, and to our surprise, by week two we had 21 players signed up," she said. "The response from the players and parents was so overwhelming we decided to continue the league over the summer."
Marion County (Ocala) won two titles, and Broward (Ft. Lauderdale), Duval (Jacksonville), Escambia (Pensacola), and Pinellas (St. Petersburg) were also victors at the USTA Florida 18 & Over 2.5/3.5/4.5 League Championships.
USTA Florida joined Women Playing for T.I.M.E. in 'Pink Out' events for women's cancer. "We are extremely excited and proud to join with Women Playing For T.I.M.E. (Technology, Immediate diagnosis, Mammography, Education) as a sponsor of their '20 Sites for 20 Years' tennis tournaments this fall," said USTA Florida Director of Marketing & Membership Laura Bowen. "Through this partnership, USTA Florida will be hosting the first-ever PINK OUT this October in support of women's cancer research at MD Anderson Cancer Center Orlando."
Two teams from Duval County (Jacksonville), and teams from Alachua County (Gainesville), Brevard County (Indian Harbour Beach), Hillsborough County (Tampa), and Marion County (Ocala) captured USTA Florida League titles at the USTA Florida League 18 & Over 3.0/4.0/5.0 Section Championships.
The Hillborough Community College tennis facility was featured in a segment on local TV about their 10 and Under Tennis program setting up young or beginner kids for success with tennis.
It was announced that Palm Beach County will host the 2014 ITF Seniors World Championships, one of the largest international amateur tennis events in the world, on April 21-May 4. The event will feature male and female players in the age categories of 35, 40, 45, 50 and 55, with more than 1,600 players from more than 38 different countries competing for the title of world champion in their respective individual and team age categories.
The ATP Delray event changed its name to the Delray Beach Open by The Venetian Las Vegas, and announced that Andy Roddick will make his ATP Champions Tour debut in 2014.
The Boca West Country Club in Boca Raton and The Sports Club at Mediterra in Naples, Fla., were two of 19 winners of the 32nd annual USTA Facility Awards Program, which recognizes excellence in the construction and/or renovation of tennis facilities throughout the country. Representatives from the respective clubs were honored at the USTA Semi-annual Meeting at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City on Sept. 1.
Cementing an evolving relationship to grow the game of tennis in the state of Florida, PTR (Professional Tennis Registry) and the USTA Florida Section signed a Florida Partnership Agreement to acknowledge the commitment of the two organizations to working together to grow the game of tennis in the state of Florida. "All of us in the USTA Florida Section are thrilled to have the PTR professionals in our state on board with us as partners in growing tennis together," said USTA Florida Volunteer President Bob Pfaender. "We have so many great things happening in tennis in Florida, and this arrangement just puts the icing on the cake."
Two teams from Orange/Seminole counties (Orlando, Casselberry), and squads from Broward (Oakland Park) and Duval (Jacksonville) counties took home USTA Florida League state titles at the USTA Florida Adult 40 & Over 3.5/4.5 Sectional Championships at the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach. Also Duval County teams from Jacksonville and Orange Park captured two titles, and Escambia County (Pensacola) and Leon County (Tallahassee) won one each during the Adult 40 & Over 3.0/4.0 Sectional Championships.
USTA Florida announced a partnership with Wilson Racquet Sports to bring a new series of fun and competitive Team Tennis Challenges to regions across the state. The events are "BYOT" (bring your own team), and teams do not have to have prior participation in a local league to participate.
Junior teams from Boca Raton, Gainesville, Jacksonville and Rockledge captured titles at the 2013 USTA Florida Jr. Team Tennis Section Championships at the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach. It was the second consecutive year that Gainesville and Jacksonville send teams to the USTA Jr. Team Tennis National Championships.
The Women's 18 & Over 5.0 team playing out of the Florida Yacht Club in Jacksonville finished in third place at the 2013 USTA League Adult 18 & Over 5.0 National Championships, held at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, Calif.
Working in a shoe store in her first job out of college, Ocoee's (just west of Orlando) Ealiane Joseph decided her life needed to revolve less around shoes and more around her two passions -- fitness training and tennis. For her efforts with junior players she was named the USTA Florida September Volunteer of the Month.
A Florida state doubles record was tied, and one player walked away with two titles upon the completion of the 65th USTA Florida Bobby Curtis Junior State Doubles Championships at Sanlando Park in Altamonte Springs (18s-16s age divisions), and at the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach (14s-10s divisions).
Florida junior tennis teams claimed multiple championships during the summer at USTA Zonal and Intersectional championships across the country, featuring top junior boys and girls players from USTA sections. Among the winners, the "Florida Yellow" team won the overall championship at the 2013 USTA Boys' and Girls' 12s Zone Team Championships, held at the Palmetto Tennis Center in Sumter, S.C.
The dominant University of Central Florida and University of Florida club tennis teams picked up where they left off last year, with the UCF-"A" team defeating the UF-"A" team 32-26 in the Gold Bracket final of the FSU Capital Challenge, kicking off the 2013-14 Florida 'Tennis on Campus' season.
American teams captured six of 10 Cups at the 33rd International Tennis Federation (ITF) Super-Seniors World Team Championships, held in Austria and the Czech Republic. The tournament is the senior tennis equivalent of the Davis Cup and Fed Cup competitions, and this year consisted of 153 teams from 27 countries competing in 10 age categories from 60-and-over to 80-and-over.
Playing their local league season out of San Jose Country Club in Jacksonville, Fla., the Jacksonville Women's 18 & Over 3.5 team captured the national championship at the 2013 USTA League Adult 18 & Over 3.5 National Championships, held at the Jim Reffkin Tennis Center in Tucson, Ariz.
The University of Florida club tennis team took home top honors at the USTA 'Tennis On Campus' Fall Invitational, held at the Palmetto Dunes Tennis Center in Hilton Head, S.C. Thirty-two co-ed intramural and club tennis teams represented colleges and universities across the country at the open event. Florida capped off the weekend defeating the University of Virginia 23-18 in the championship match in their first-ever appearance at the event.
USTA Florida league tennis teams finished in first and third place during USTA League National Championships held in Indian Wells, Calif., and Tucson, Ariz. The 40 & Over Division Women's 3.5 team from Casselberry, Fla., playing out of Red Bug Lake Park during the regular season, captured the title at the 2013 USTA League Adult 40 & Over 3.5 National Championships at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Placing third at the 2013 USTA League Adult 18 & Over 4.0 National Championships at the Jim Reffkin Tennis Center in Tucson were the Adult 18 & Over Division 4.0 Women from Indian Harbour Beach, playing out of the Kiwi Tennis Club.
Filip Cebic of Tampa and Karina Dergunova of Palm Coast captured the boys' and girls' singles titles at the first USTA Florida Bobby Curtis State 10s Green Ball Championships, held in the Orlando area. The boys' championships were held at Sylvan Lake Park in Sanford, while the girls' championships were contested at the Lake Mary Tennis Center in Lake Mary. The championships were contested using the lower-bouncing USTA 10 and Under Tennis "green ball" on full-size (78-foot) courts.
Florida's Nick Bollettieri, Vic Braden and Steve Wilkinson joined the ranks of only 13 others when they were inducted into the United States Professional Tennis Association's (USPTA) Hall of Fame at the USPTA World Conference.
Tournament Director John Lamkin carries on both a proud tradition of providing for the under-served children of Jacksonville, Fla., and the legacy of serving the black community founded by local community recreation advocate Julius Guinyard. For more than 18 years, Lamkin has volunteered as tournament director for the Julius Guinyard Tennis Association Fundraiser Tournament, the primary fundraiser for the non-profit organization that introduces tennis to a target audience of urban and low-income youth and adults near downtown Jacksonville. He was named the USTA Florida October Volunteer of the Month.
The women's 40 & Over 3.0 USTA League tennis team from Fleming Island, Fla., located just outside of Jacksonville, finished second at the USTA League Adult 40 & Over 3.0 Women's National Championships, held at the Jim Reffkin Tennis Center in Tucson, Ariz.
Duval County (Jacksonville, Ponte Vedra Beach) claimed two titles, while Alachua (Gainesville), Escambia (Sarasota), Leon (Tallahassee) and Marion (Ocala) counties won championships during the USTA Florida Mixed 18 & Over Sectional Championships, held at the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach.
Representing the USTA Florida Section at the 2013 USTA League Mixed 18 & Over 6.0, 8.0 & 10.0 National Championships, a team from Tallahassee placed third in the Mixed 8.0 division. The Mixed 18 & Over 6.0, 8.0 & 10.0 National Championships took place at the Jim Reffkin Tennis Center in Tucson, Ariz. The team out of the Forestmeadows Park and Athletic Center in Tallahassee defeated the USTA Mid Atlantic Section (Fairfax, Va.) team 2-1 in the 3rd/4th place playoff.
Andy Roddick literally powered Team Elton to a 24-18 win over Team Billie Jean at the Mylan WTT Smash Hits presented by GEICO at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort. The event raised $700,000 for AIDS charities and exposing some lucky Orlando youth to future U.S. stars. Earlier in the day, USTA Florida and Mylan World TeamTennis hosted a free Mylan WTT Smash Hits Kids Play Day, sponsored by Macy's at Macy's Florida Mall in Orlando.
The USTA Mixed 18 & Over team out of the Ft. King Tennis Center in Ocala finished second at the 2013 USTA League Mixed 18 & Over 2.5, 7.0 & 9.0 National Championships, held at the Jim Reffkin Tennis Center in Tucson, Ariz.
It was miniature Dolphins uniforms on the court rather than the traditional tennis whites when USTA Florida's Hispanic outreach initiative, Tenis para Todos, featured mini-tennis courts inside the tailgating section of the Miami Dolphins' Sun Life Stadium on game day. From noon-4 p.m., youth groups and individuals just passing by with parents stopped to try tennis on the 36-foot courts with modified 10 and Under Tennis equipment for smaller children. USTA Florida's Tenis para Todos, through events and facility programming, brought numerous events and activities to Hispanic communities throughout Central and South Florida in 2013, with event planning to expand in 2014.
Florida adult women teams finished in 1st, two in 2nd, two in 3rd, and one in 4th at the 2013 USTA National Women's Intersectional Team Event, featuring the 35-80 age divisions, held at The Swim & Racquet Center in Boca Raton, Fla.
Teams from Broward County (Oakland Park), Duval County (Fleming Island), Escambia County (Gulf Breeze), and Hillsborough County (Tampa) captured titles at the 2013 USTA Florida Mixed 40 & Over League Sectional Championships, held at the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach.
Long-time USTA Leagues participant Lois Carrington is giving back to the children of Tallahassee from what tennis has afforded her over the years -- a way to keep active, meet new friends, and above all become involved in the "Sport of a Lifetime." Over the last two years Carrington has voluntarily conducted 10 and Under Tennis clinics and play at the Walker-Ford Community Center. This year she has extended her tennis teaching and mentoring to the Macon County Housing Projects courts, where she has met youngsters who had never seen or did not know what to call a tennis racquet. She was named the USTA Florida November Volunteer of the Month.
Tennis volunteer Celia Rehm of Jacksonville was honored for her years of community service when she was presented with one of the United States Tennis Association's (USTA) highest national honors, the Eve Kraft Community Service Award. The award was presented during the USTA Tennis Development Workshop, held Oct. 31-Nov. 3 in Denver, Colo. "I had the honor of meeting Eve Kraft at the first USTA Tennis Development Workshop I attended," Rehm told an audience of USTA volunteers and staff upon receiving the award. "I was new as a volunteer to USTA Florida, and you can just imagine what an inspirational experience that was for me. Because my passion is developing programs at the local level, I understood her message, and instantly I felt a connection that has stayed with me for so many years."
Pinellas County (Oldsmar, St. Petersburg) captured two titles, and Escambia County (Pensacola), Hillsborough County (Apollo Beach), and Marion County (Hernando) were also Florida state tennis champions at the 2013 USTA Florida Combo 50 & Over League Sectional Championships, held at the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach.
In the youngest-ever final producing the youngest-ever champion, American Francis Tiafoe, 15, won the Boys' 18s singles title at the Metropolia Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships on Sunday, becoming the youngest player to win the title in the tournament's 67 years. Maryland's Tiafoe defeated Stefan Kozlov, 15, of Pembroke Pines, Fla., 7-6(3), 0-6, 6-3, in the first all-American Orange Bowl boys' final since 2004. It was also the first time two 15-year olds had played for the 18s championship.
Masters Tennis, the new short-court format for senior players debuted as an exhibition sport at the Florida International Senior Games & State Championships, held at Three Oaks Community Park in Fort Myers.
Alfredo Perez in the Boys' 16s, Sofia Sewing in the Girls' 14s, and Adam Neff in the Boys' 12s were Florida players that captured titles at the Eddie Herr International Junior Championships, held Nov. 28-Dec. 8, 2013 at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. Coral Gables' Perez posted the biggest upset as an unseeded player, toppling top seed Yunseong Chung of Korea 7-6, 6-2 in the Boys' 16s final.
The Intercollegiate Tennis Association and United States Tennis Association named head coach Dwayne Hultquist of Florida State University as a recipient of the 2013 USTA/ITA National Campus & Community Outreach Award, one of college tennis' most esteemed awards.
Multiple Grand Slam winner Mary Pierce of Bradenton and Wimbledon finalist MaliVai Washington of Jacksonville were among the honorees on Dec. 7-8 when USTA Florida (United States Tennis Association-Florida Section) presented its year-end awards at the 2013 USTA Florida Annual Meeting & Volunteer Celebration.
The 64th edition of the annual awards were held at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress in Orlando. The weekend celebrating Florida tennis volunteers and community activists also included educational sessions, panel discussions, a tennis mixer and a Masters Tennis (55 short court) event, the Starry, Starry Night Awards Dinner & Dancing, and the Sunday Breakfast with the Stars awards.
"Wow...OK, I'm pretty emotional," said Pierce, fighting back tears throughout her speech after accepting the award. "This is really special for me. Tennis really means a lot to me. It's given me a lot of wonderful things in my life. The most important thing I want to say is how much I love my family. They're here tonight and I'm so grateful. My dad, I'm so grateful for all the things you did for me...mom thanks for everything, you were always there for me. And my brother who was always there, he sacrificed a lot and traveled with me...Florida has done a lot for me, and thank you for electing me to the USTA Florida Hall of Fame, it's very special to me."
... and Happy New Year, wishing you and yours a wonderful 2014 from the staff of the United States Tennis Association-Florida Section.