Support for Starting Florida Senior Mini Tennis Programs
Following a number of successful pilot programs across the state, USTA Florida is currently soliciting facilities and organizations to, with USTA Florida support, begin Senior Mini Tennis programs or hold events featuring 60-foot courts and lower-compression orange or green-dot balls.
"Senior players with little to no tennis experience, age or physical limitations who can no longer cover a full 78-foot court in doubles have loved the Senior Mini Tennis format, playing doubles on the 60-foot-lined courts with lower-compression balls that let you take regular swings, but still keep the ball in the court," said USTA Florida Director of Community Tennis Linda Curtis. "With our Share the Love grant initiative we're currently accepting grant applications for programs looking for equipment or 60-foot permanent lines painted on existing courts."
Areas in Florida that have held Senior Mini Tennis pilot programs have included The Villages near Ocala, Phillips Park and Pelican Landing in Lee County, among others. The Lee County Community Tennis Association (LCCTA) has an ongoing program, and in December plans a free county-wide event to attract additional players for 2013 Spring round robin play.
"With all the public courts in Lee County now lined for 10 and Under Tennis, it seemed the right time to launch a modified tennis game for seniors," said Harriett Bohannon, former executive director of the LCCTA, which received a Share the Love Grant. "Twenty-three seniors were recruited at three sites to help with the design of the key components -- racquet, ball, court size, and rules. During February 2012, 78 players attended one of the nine PlayDay events at five park locations where the game was introduced. The concept was embraced by participants, many who had given up tennis due to medical limitations."
Summer plans for continuing and growing Short Court Tennis at the Villages include a 'Train the Trainers" workshop, and expansion of the program at other community centers.
"We've had great success generating initial interest from the residents, and have held many successful clinics that garnered a lot of attention," said The Villages' Danny Jacobs. "Moving forward, we are hoping short court tennis will add an additional avenue for tennis players in The Villages."
For more information on Senior Mini Tennis programs or play, contact Linda Curtis at (386) 671-8934 or curtisL@florida.usta.com
Boca Raton 14-year-old Tornado Ali Black Runner-up at USTA Pro Circuit Tennis
Boca Raton 14-year-old qualifier Alicia "Tornado Ali" Black finished runner-up over the weekend at the USTA Pro Circuit's Sargent & Collins, LLP Women's $10,000 tennis championships in Buffalo, N.Y., falling in the final to 17-year-old New York qualifier Jamie Loeb.
The fiery Black vented during her losing effort at officials, herself and her racquet during the 7-6(2), 6-2 loss.
"I always pump myself up and I never like to show negative emotions," her opponent Loeb told the Buffalo News. "I feel like that's one of the stronger points in my game -- I stay positive, stay confident and let the other person get frustrated. She was getting frustrated so I took advantage of that...I like to feed off people's emotions, so if she's getting frustrated, I see that and I start pumping myself up and I'm more determined to win the point. Hopefully she'll crack, which she did."
After successfully making it through the qualifying draw, Black upended the No. 5 seed in her opening round, and top-seeded and WTA No. 494-ranked Fatma Al Nabhani of Oman in the quarterfinals. Black showed her tenacity in the qualifying, winning two three-set matches, in both losing no more than one game in the final set.
Loeb, of Ossining, N.Y., was the 2011 USTA Girls' 18s Winter National junior champion, and in addition to defeating Black also captured the doubles championship in Buffalo. It was her first pro singles title.
"She just hit points," Black said after the singles final. "She was a better player, today. She pulled it off."
Last month Black was featured in ESPN The Magazine as one of the "Women Who Will Change the Way Sports are Played." Pegged as "The Second Coming," the article noted, "In the post-Williams-sisters world coming soon, who will captivate American tennis fans? It may take her a few years, but Black has all the makings of "the one." The 14-year-old Boca Raton, Fla., native has collected dozens of wins on the international junior circuit, including a title at the prestigious Eddie Herr tournament in December. There, she dropped just one set and became the first American to win the event's Rising Star Award. (Maria Sharapova won the same honor when she was 13.) Black signed a contract with Octagon to go pro this year..."
The USTA launched the Pro Circuit 33 years ago to provide players with the opportunity to gain professional ATP and WTA ranking points, and it has since grown to become the largest developmental tennis circuit in the world, offering nearly $3 million in prize money. Last year, more than 1,000 men and women from more than 70 countries competed in U.S. cities nationwide. Mardy Fish, Maria Sharapova, Andy Roddick, Caroline Wozniacki, James Blake, Li Na and Andy Murray are among today's top stars who began their careers on the USTA Pro Circuit.