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Florida Tennis Briefs(4): Jr. Profile, Accolades, More

January 3, 2014 09:52 AM
USTA Pro Circuit Women's Wildcard Tourney at Palm Harbor

innisbrook-logo-ballThe Innisbrook Women's Open, a USTA Pro Circuit event, will hold a wildcard tournament on Feb. 22-24, 2014, at the Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, Fla.

The winner will receive a wildcard into the main draw of the $25,000 Innisbrook Women's Open, which will be held March 16-23, 2014. Held on claycourts, the format will be two of three tiebreak sets with ITF rules applied.

The entry fee is $50, and the entry deadline is Feb. 21, 2014 at midnight.

Innisbrook Resort is located at 36750 U.S. Highway 19 N., Palm Harbor, Fla., 34684.

For more info contact Pam Collins at (727) 942-5241 or pam.collins@playinnisbrook.com, or visit www.VisitInnisbrook.com.

Florida Jr. Tennis Profile: Hurricane Tyra Black, Boca Raton

By Colette Lewis, USTA Florida junior tennis columnist

Hurricane Tyra Black began 2013 by claiming the USTA's Winter National girls 12s championship, captured the USTA Hard Courts National 12s title in August, then ended the year by wining the Junior Orange Bowl girls 12s title in Coral Gables.

photo_op-BlackUSTAFlaThe 12-year-old from Boca Raton joined her older sisters Nicole Pitts and Tornado Alicia Black as Junior Orange Bowl finalists, but despite that family legacy, her motivation to win the prestigious international tournament came from more recent history.

Black's opponent in the Junior Orange Bowl final was Anastasia Potapova of Russia, who had claimed the Eddie Herr title earlier in December when Black was forced to retire in the first set of their championship encounter due to a hip injury.

"I really wanted to win this tournament when I came out here, because I had to default at Eddie Herr," said Black, who trains with her father Sylvester at his academy in Boca Raton.

It wasn't easy for Black, who didn't win a game in the first set against Potapova, but she roared back to post a 0-6, 6-2, 6-4 victory.

"I just really wanted to win," Black said of her comeback. "When I want to win, I come back and I do a lot better."

Black traces her banner year back to the gold ball she won last January in Tucson, Arizona.

"For me, my biggest title was when I won Winter Nationals," Black said. "My parents didn't have a lot of confidence in me, because I wasn't doing very well, and my sisters had done well and I wasn't doing as good as them. So when I won that tournament, I was really happy, so I think that was my best tournament."

Panhandle's D'Aleo, Dotson Recognized at 2013 USTA Florida Annual Meeting & Volunteer Celebration

by Scott Harrison, USTA Florida Region 1-West (Panhandle) Columnist

Joe D'Aleo and Rita Dotson at the
USTA Florida Annual Meeting

Tops'l Beach & Racquet Resort's Director of Tennis Joe D'Aleo and Tennis-4-Everyone President Rita Dotson were among the honorees on Dec. 7-8 when USTA Florida presented its year-end awards at the 2013 USTA Florida Annual Meeting & Volunteer Celebration.

The 64th edition of the annual awards was 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.

D'Aleo accepted the award for the Al Mills Memorial Adult Tournament of the Year, representing the Helen Drake Adult Invitational held at Tops'l in Miramar Beach. This was the third time in the Helen Drake's 30-year history that it has received the award.

Approximately 300 players compete in the annual event, drawing competitors from Florida, the Southern U.S., and all over the country. To draw that many players in these days of diminished participation in tournaments due to league play, and to not be a prize money or national event, the organizers led by D'Aleo must be doing something right. It doesn't hurt that Tops'l has to be the finest venue in the country for holding a tennis tournament.

The USTA 10 and Under Tennis Teaching Award was presented to Dotson.

As president of Tennis-4-Everyone, a non-profit organization that provides free tennis instruction to underprivileged kids, she is used to being pointed out by children around Pensacola. She says, "It is a wonderful feeling to be recognized around town by children of all ages as 'The Tennis Lady.' It warms my heart to see young adults that I have taught as youngsters playing tennis and enjoying the game."

In 2013, Dotson assisted at approximately 10 school assemblies, hosted 10 and Under Tennis Festivals, provided free instruction for children at public parks, assisted with Jr. Team Tennis kick-off events, and initiated free tennis programs at elementary schools and community centers.

Dotson coordinates schedules with various community centers in the Pensacola area, providing age-appropriate tennis equipment and quality instruction, with a goal to expose as many children as possible to tennis. She says, "The 10 and Under Tennis equipment has all but guaranteed success for our youth. Even the handful that come out with attitudes and have decided they do not like tennis because they don't want to fail, they give it a shot and like it."

Florida Region 3 League Triumphs, Awards in 2013

by Nancy Morgan, USTA Florida Region 3 (Tampa/St. Petersburg area) Columnist

The Combo 50 & Over Women's 7.5 winners from Pinellas County

Successes from teams and achievements by individuals in Region 3 were abundant in 2013!               

Nine USTA League teams captured state championships and four qualified for national USTA League Championships. Ten other teams were runners-up in state competition.

National-qualified teams were Pinellas County's 4.5 men's Adult 18 & Over team based at the St. Petersburg Tennis Center; Hillsborough County's 4.0 men's Adult 18 & Over squad out of HCC in Tampa; Pinellas' men's 3.5 Adult 55 & Over team based at Shipwatch Tennis Club; and Pinellas' 4.0 women's Adult 55 & Over from Safety Harbor Spa.

Other state champions from Region 3 include Mixed Doubles 40 & Over 8.0 team from  Hampton Park in Tampa; Combo 50 & Over teams 6.5 women from East Lake Woodlands Tennis Club, 7.5 women based at St. Petersburg Tennis Center, 8.5 women from Apollo Beach and the 7.5 men from Citrus Hills Tennis Club in Hernando County.

State winners in USTA Combo Leagues do not advance to the national level, but the mixed doubles state winner will compete this April in Maui, Hawaii!

Placing second in state competition were six teams from Pinellas and four from Hillsborough.

Joining USTA League teams in the winners' circle were individuals Judy Foster, Kimberly Bonk, Robert Carlbo and Ria Graham.

At last month's USTA Florida Section's Annual Meeting, Judy Foster joined an elite group of state tennis volunteers when she received the 2013 Female Merit Award for her contribution to tennis. Judy is in her 10th year as executive director of Pinellas' Suncoast Tennis Foundation and has volunteered the last 14 years at local, state and national levels.

Also recognized at the annual meeting was Kimberly Bonk of Lutz, who was named 2013 Official of the Year for her 10 years service at all levels, from local tournaments to the US Open. Kimberly is beginning her first year as president of the Bay Area Tennis Officials Association in Region 3.

Teaching professional Robert Carlbo was named PTR Professional of the Year in recognition of his high standards of conduct and service in both tennis and the PTR professional organization.

Ria Graham was selected for the third time to compete in the Super Senior Team Championships and traveled to Austria with Florida's 75-and-over squad to compete in the 33rd International Super Senior World Team Championships. Ria's team won the 75s world title and she and her partner won the world 75s doubles title!

Ria and the 75s team came in second in the USTA National Women's Intersectional Team Event in Boca Raton.

Region 3 teams and individuals are ready to break into 2014 with more tennis and more accolades!





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