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Florida Tennis Briefs(5): Tollefsen VOM; 10-U; College Fundraiser

September 28, 2012 11:06 AM
10-U, Jr. Team Tennis Advocate Tollefsen Named USTA Florida Volunteer of the Month

tollefsenAfter only one year as the volunteer USTA Florida 10 and Under Tennis coordinator for the North Miami area, Donna Tollefsen is registering triple-digit kids for her area programs. Now she is filling what she saw as a hole in area junior tennis offerings -- tennis as a team sport.

"I felt the one thing we were missing in our tennis program was Jr. Team Tennis," said Tollefsen, tennis director at the Michael-Ann Russell Jewish Community Center (JCC) in Miami. "I jumped on the idea. Cathy Nordlund [USTA Florida Miami tennis program coordinator] didn't want a director or pro to organize it, but I persuaded her to let me try. I have a great staff who is very involved."

Tollefsen said she was in turn pushed by Nordlund, and USTA Florida Board of Directors member Nancy Horowitz, to "get moving" after the death of her husband. The area Tollefsen moved to was organizing the fast-growing 10 and Under Tennis market in North Miami-Dade.

"We have the largest junior program in the area," Tollefsen said. "I met Cathy and she saw the potential of growth for the junior tennis. She could not believe the amount of kids we had. I had been running a Jr. Grand Prix program for about 15 years, which was very successful. Cathy approached me with the 10 and Under Tennis format, and now I am looking forward to getting more clubs involved and more kids playing tennis."

Late last year the Michael-Ann Russell JCC, with 135 children registered in the 10 and Under Tennis program at that time, applied for and was granted a USTA Florida "Share the Love" award for $2,500 in 10 and Under Tennis equipment and scholarship money for students requiring financial assistance. Since then the program has continued to grow. Team tennis has long been a passion for Tollefsen, a 20-year veteran of the tennis industry, and she likes to see kids start out on teams for the camaraderie and fun.

"I think the 10 and Under Tennis format is a great starting point for the kids," she says. "The weight of the ball and the size of the courts, I feel, gives a kid more confidence in themselves. I see the big smiles on their faces. The 8-and-under kids are much easier because they are just thrilled to be there. I love Jr. Team Tennis. After competing in high school and college, I have always loved the team spirit you have with your team."

Tollefsen and Nordlund are frequent collaborators in meeting with other pros to discuss program logistics, with "lots of e-mails, phone calls, and persuasion," Tollefsen says.

"Donna never says no when you ask her to help at any event," Nordlund says. "Always with a positive attitude and a smile on her face. As director of tennis for the JCC she is a great leader with her staff, who support USTA programs."

In addition to leading the 10 and Under Tennis charge, Tollefsen's credentials include the highest USPTA (United States Professional Tennis Association) Level 1 certification, and she is a past USPTA Miami Professional of the Year who also coached at the college level, guiding the women's program at Nova College. She is one of the organizers of her club's annual Tennis Fest Pro-Am, which this year celebrated its 18th annual event, raising more than $45,000 to benefit underprivileged families and seniors who need scholarship assistance to participate in various programs at the Michael-Ann Russell JCC.
"Tennis has been my life," said the native of Miami Beach, whose sons also played college tennis. "We played tennis all year round. I have met many lifetime friends through the game and love of tennis. I would tell parents to encourage their children to play tennis and have fun. It is a lifetime sport."

USTA Florida congratulates Donna Tollefsen as the September 2012 Volunteer of the Month for her growth of Jr. Team Tennis and 10 and Under Tennis in the Miami area, and getting children and families hooked on the "sport of a lifetime."


Miami Beach, Fla.
Family Members: "Two sons, and many wonderful brothers, sister, sister-in-laws, brother-in-laws, and many nieces and nephews."
Favorite Movie: Breakfast at Tiffany's
Favorite Food: Pasta
Favorite Travel: Anywhere with a beach
Favorite Shot: "Dropshot. I love the element of the surprise."

My earliest tennis memory was..."My dad's best friend gave me his favorite racquet when I was five. He had it cut down to my size. I still don't know how I played with it."

If I could play tennis with three people, they would be..."John McEnroe, I love his spirit on and off the court; Steffi Graf, favorite player; Bill Gates, would love to play with all the brain power"

When I am not playing tennis I am..."Working or going to the beach."

My best-ever tennis memory..."is having my son teaching tennis on the court next to me."

I like to volunteer in tennis because..."I love the sport. It has opened many doors for my family and myself. I also love to see the faces of kids after their great accomplishments. It is even great to see adults faces. Tennis is like a second family to me."

Family 10 and Under Tennis at Roger Scott in Pensacola
10andunderlogoFamilies can take to the court together to play 10 and Under Tennis on Oct. 5, 2012, during the 10 and Under Tennis Festival at Roger Scott Tennis Center in Pensacola, Fla., from 4-7 p.m.

Tennis participation numbers in Florida for small children has increased exponentially since the introduction of the 10 and Under Tennis format.  10 and Under Tennis is designed for children, featuring smaller court sizes, racquet sizes, foam and decompressed balls, a simple scoring system, and net heights adjusted to ease kids into the sport. Similar mini-tennis formats have long been popular in Europe, where current stars such as Roger Federer and Kim Clijsters first learned the game with age-adjusted racquets, balls and court sizes.
"I am so impressed with the reception and support the 10 and Under Tennis Initiative has received from the local school board, P.E. teachers and the Greater Pensacola community in general," said USTA Florida 10 and Under Target Market Coordinator Tara Dominguez. "These free festivals are a fantastic way to introduce all children to a sport of a lifetime."

During the festival parents and children can also sign-up for lessons or programming in the area, and take advantage of free USTA membership for children age 10 and under who are first-time members.
Information will also be available for parents and players on local USTA Florida Jr. Team Tennis leagues and other play opportunities. USTA Jr. Team Tennis (JTT) brings kids together in teams to play singles, doubles and mixed doubles against other teams. It promotes social skills and important values by fostering cooperation and unity, as well as individual self-growth. It is designed for kids ages 5-18, and matches can be held anywhere from a local park or school to a commercial or private club. JTT teams are co-ed and divided by the play levels Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, and utilize the 10 and Under Tennis format for the 10-under and 8-under leagues.
The event is an effort to get kids active and involved in tennis following National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. USTA Free Tennis Play Days provide kids and parents of all skill levels with the opportunity to experience tennis in a social and fun setting. The event is open to the public with an emphasis placed on family participation, effort and sportsmanship. 

The Roger Scott Tennis Center is located at 2130 Summit Boulevard in Pensacola.

For information on the festival or area 10 and Under Tennis opportunities, contact USTA Florida Target Market Coordinator Tara Dominguez at Dominguez@florida.usta.com or visit www.TennisPensacola.com.

Pinellas Boys & Girls Club Debuts 10 and Under Tennis

The Pinellas Park branch of the Boys & Girls Club hosted more than 60 children participating in a USTA Free Tennis Play Day in support of Nickelodeon's Worldwide Day of Play on Friday, Sept. 14, 2012.

"Pinellas County schools were off for the day, but that didn't stop us from having a huge turnout," said USTA Florida Tennis Program Coordinator Carla Williams. "The club's gym was transformed into three mini-courts. With the help of the Suncoast Tennis Foundation and wonderful volunteers, kids played a variety of games, munched on popcorn and took home a great goody bag that included a healthy kid's cookbook donated by All Children's Hospital."

The Pinellas Park Fire Department also made a special visit, with three of its employees bringing a fire truck to the club and teaching kids about the equipment on board.

"The event was a fantastic kick-off for the club, as it is one of two clubs that will be starting Kids Tennis Clubs this fall," Williams said.

Equipment for the event was funded with a "Share the Love" community tennis grant from USTA Florida.

USTA Florida and the Suncoast Tennis Foundation look forward to supporting the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Suncoast through 10 and Under tennis programming.

"We do this all over the state," said Judy Foster, executive director of the Suncoast Tennis Foundation, speaking to TBNweekly.com.

For more information on 10 and Under Tennis, go to www.10andundertennis.com. For more information on the Suncoast Tennis Foundation, go to www.ourtennis.net.

Pembroke Pines' Kenin Wins G14 at NJT Masters Tennis

Kenin-2012-NTJ_2G14_Winner_Sophia_Kenin_finals_actionSofia Kenin of Pembroke Pines, Fla., captured the girls' 14 singles title on Sunday at the 13th annual Nike Junior Tour (NJT) USA National Masters, held at the Evert Tennis Academy in Boca Raton, Fla.

The three-day event brought together 64 of the country's top boys and girls in the 12s and 14s age groups, competed for the right to represent the United States at the NJT International Masters.  

"This was by far the strongest field we have ever had," said Tournament Director Phil Cello. "The girls' 12s event was especially strong, with 12 out of the Top 16 nationally-ranked girls in the draw of 16 players. I believe the qualifying format change contributed to this year's strong field. In previous years, players qualified for the event by winning their Sectional Championship. This year the Top 12 players based on their USTA National Ranking were invited, plus four wildcards."

Kenin as the No. 2 in the girls' 14 final defeated No. 4 seed Jessie Aney of Rochester, Minn. 6-2, 7-5.

The girls' 12 event was won by No. 4 seed Liu Claire of Thousand Oaks, Calif., defeating top-seeded Abigail Desiatnikov from Gates Mills, Ohio in the final. The top Florida finisher in the division was No. 3 seed Nicole Conrad of Boca Raton who reached the semifinals.

Unseeded John McNally of Cincinnati, Ohio, won the boys' 14 title, in the final topping No. 2 seed Mwendwa Mbithi from Succasunna, N.J. Florida's Alex del Corral from Doral reached the semifinals.

In the B12s final, No. 3 seed Axel Nefve from Hinsdale, Ill., defeated No. 2 Andrew Fenty from Washington, DC. Pembroke Pines' Boris Kozlov reached the semifinals.

The winners received a spot on the U.S. team at the NJT International Masters, which will feature the best junior players in the world from 34 different countries. It will be played Dec. 5-12, 2012, at the Club Med Sandpiper Bay in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Current tennis stars that have won or participated in the NJT International Masters include Rafael Nadal, Tomas Berdych, and Juan Martin Del Potro.   

Break-in, Robbery Kickstarts Florida State College at Jacksonville Women's Tennis Fundraiser

Florida State College at Jacksonville players
Imagine you're a small-college, small-budget women's college tennis team, and you return to the team van after an away match to see that it was broken into -- and gone is all your equipment, gear, all the team IDs, team cell phones and traveling money.

The Florida tennis community is rallying to raise money for the Florida State College at Jacksonville women's tennis team after they lost virtually everything after a break-in and robbery of their team van on a road trip.

The team is attempting to raise money through a website campaign, with a fundraising goal of $2,000, and every little bit helps. To chip in or learn more, go to http://fscjwomenstennisteam.chipin.com/fscj-womens-tennis-team.






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