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Florida Teams UCF, UF, USF, Ready for 2012 Tennis on Campus National Chps.

March 27, 2012 07:44 AM
by Rick Vach, ustaflorida.com

The 2012 University of Central Florida team
The 2012 University of Florida team
The 2012 University of South Florida team
Last year the Tennis on Campus national champion UCLA Bruins needed to go through two Florida teams to capture the title, defeating the University of Central Florida (UCF) in the semifinals, and the University of Florida (UF) in the final.

This year Florida's top squads are out for revenge, plain and simple, at the co-ed April 12 Tennis on Campus National Championships.

"We have the exact same line-up as last year, we didn't lose anyone, so we're looking for first place at nationals, we're tired of second," says UF Club Tennis President and senior Jodi Kleiner with a laugh. "So first is the plan."

The UF Gators are the only Florida club tennis team to win the Tennis on Campus National Championships title back in 2003. But after a runner-up finish at nationals in 2011 for the second consecutive year, in 2012 the veteran Gators may not even be Florida's strongest entry at nationals. The UCF Knights stunned the Gators in the final of this year's USTA Florida Section Tennis on Campus Championships by a team score of 30-27, ending a three-year reign for UF as the Florida Section year-end champions. Prior to UF's three-year Florida Section championship run, UCF won the Florida championship year-end title back-to-back in 2007-08.

"It's the same [UCF] team as last year but the confidence level is higher, we have the guys that are seniors and they really want to make something happen," says UCF Tennis Club President and junior Gerardo Valenzuela. "We've been to the semifinals the last three years at nationals, so I think we've done pretty good there. We are full strength and ready to go."

Both UCF and UF by reaching the Florida Section final earned berths to the 2012 USTA Tennis on Campus National Championships, featuring the Top 64 college and university club tennis teams in the U.S., to be held on April 12-14, 2012, in Cary, N.C.

Joining UCF and UF at nationals from Florida will be the surprise University of South Florida squad, which made a run at the Florida Section championship to finish third in the Florida point standings and earn a wildcard berth to nationals.

"We didn't have any of our top guys [at the Florida Section championships], it is really a bad time for them because the midterms seem to come this weekend or exams or big projects," said USF Club Tennis President Mary Wynne. "This has been a really breakthrough team for us. USF club tennis has advanced so much from where it came from, maybe five people a couple years ago, and now it's a 100-person club."
UF and UCF with their history of success at nationals will be looking to take it one step further and end the two-year reign by California schools at the Tennis on Campus National Championships.

"It's been the Florida and California schools that dominate," UF's Kleiner says. "I've been to nationals twice and finished second place the last two years, we're ready to win it."

The USTA's Tennis On Campus program is designed to provide college students with opportunities for team camaraderie, social networking, and rivaled competition through tennis without the rigors of a varsity program via college/university "club" tennis teams. Perfect for athletes who have chosen not to make the jump from high school to college varsity, Tennis On Campus offers co-ed team-based play (using the World TeamTennis scoring format), regional and national championship competition, and helps students maintain active and healthy lifestyles through their college years. Currently, the program is offered on over 500 college campuses and services over 30,000 students. For more info go to www.tennisoncampus.com.
USTA National Campus Championship Winners:
 2011 -- University of California -- Los Angeles (d. University of Florida in final)
 2010 -- University of California -- Berkeley  (d. University of Florida in final)
 2009 -- Duke University
 2008 -- University of Texas -- Austin
 2007 -- Texas A&M University -- College Station
 2006 -- Texas A&M University -- College Station
 2005 -- Texas A&M University -- College Station
 2004 -- Texas A&M University -- College Station
 2002 -- Texas A&M University
 2001 -- University of North Carolina -- Chapel Hill
 2000 -- University of North Carolina -- Chapel Hill
For more information on the USTA Florida Tennis on Campus series contact Michelle Brown at brownm@florida.usta.com.





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