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Florida Tennis Briefs(2): Miami at League Chps.; US Open Playoffs

July 2, 2013 12:07 PM

Miami Heat Wave Falls Short at 55 & Over Florida League Sectionals in Daytona

By Barbara Eisner Bayer, USTA Florida Region 8 (North Gold Coast) columnist
region_8-Martins_TeamFor captain Monika Martins and her 55 & Over USTA Florida League team from Royal Palm Tennis Club in Miami, the writing was on the wall: After falling a hair short of victory at the 2011 and 2012 Florida League Sectionals, this year was going to be the winning won. After all, the third time's the charm, right?
The team now had the necessary experience to break through. The very close-knit group, who play and drill together all the time, would no longer be nervous. They worked hard to get there, and they were excited, determined, and ready. They did all the mental preparations necessary, and were committed to leaving Daytona with tickets to the USTA League Nationals in Arizona in their tennis bags.
"Our trick to winning," according to Martins, "is that everyone on the team is committed to this league; plus we really enjoy it. All the seniors we meet have been extremely friendly. And we're all appreciative that we're out there still competing in the 55- to 72-year-old age range!"
Getting this far was not all fun and games. During the fall season, the team had to battle hard, because they lost three of their 10 players to injuries and illness. During the second half in the spring, they added a player, and won their division. Martins believes that the small number of players keeps everyone's interest and commitment up, and gives everyone ample court time.
The ready, able, and generally healthy team headed to Daytona for the May Sectionals. Unfortunately, their perfect weekend was wiped out by a perfect storm -- it poured the whole weekend, and they never got to play. They returned on June 20 which, coincidentally, was the day that the Miami Heat clinched the NBA Championship.
"We were so optimistic when the Heat won," Martins said. "The team celebrated together in Daytona, to mimic the celebration in Miami."
Unfortunately, riding the Heat's coattails wasn't in the cards for Martins' team. They lost in the semifinals to the eventual winners.
Although the ladies are disappointed, they're planning to return next year with an even better attitude of winning and a new mantra: "The Fourth Time's the Charm!"

Fla. Players Win More Titles at US Open Playoffs Sectional Events

Melichar (right) and Battistone in 2012
Florida-based players keep on collecting titles at USTA Section US Open Playoffs events across the country, last weekend advancing to the US Open National Playoffs by winning events in Minnesota (USTA Northern Section) and New Jersey (USTA Middle States Section).
Nineteen-year-old Nicole Melichar of Stuart, Fla., who broke into the Top 250 in the WTA tour doubles rankings earlier this year, won the singles and mixed doubles (with 33-year-old Brian Battistone of Las Vegas) titles at the US Open Playoffs-USTA Northern Section tournament in Minneapolis, Minn.
She has won two singles titles and three doubles crowns on the ITF Pro Circuit, including two this year in Turkey. Last year Melichar lost in the women's singles final of the US Open Playoffs-USTA Southwest Section tournament, and won the mixed with Battistone. Melichar and Battistone eventually won the US Open National Playoffs, earning a main draw wildcard into the mixed doubles at the US Open.
Fort Lauderdale's Lindsay Graff, a 20 year old who currently plays for Princeton, won the women's title at the US Open Playoffs-USTA Middle States Section tournament in West Windsor, N.J.
Graff also teamed with 23-year-old former Princeton player Matija Pecotic of Malta to win the mixed doubles title.
Both players had exemplary spring seasons at Princeton, with Graff earning First Team All-Ivy League honors as the school's No. 1 singles player, and Pecotic finishing his career as one of the most decorated student-athletes in Ivy League tennis history.
Melichar and Graff join the three Florida players advancing to nationals from the US Open Playoffs-Florida tournament held earlier this spring.
The 2013 US Open National Playoffs men's and women's singles championships will be held Aug. 16-19, 2013, in New Haven, Conn. at Yale University, staged during the New Haven Open at Yale presented by First Niagara, an Emirates Airline US Open Series event. It will feature the top 13 winners or top available finishers from the 13 US Open Playoffs sectional qualifying tournaments held throughout the country. The winners received US Open qualifying wildcards.
The national mixed doubles will be held Aug. 21-14 at the same location, with the winning team to receive a wildcard into the main draw of the mixed doubles at the 2013 US Open.
For more information go to www.usopen.org/National_Playoffs.





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