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Florida Tennis Briefs: Harrison Profile; Elite Coach Polonsky Offering 10-Under Tennis

January 5, 2011 04:11 PM
Harrison Qualifies, Loses to Soderling; Featured in ESPN the Magazine

harrison-photo-tom-grason-ustaBradenton, Florida-based 18-year-old Ryan Harrison wants to become the face of U.S. men's tennis, and this week he was recognized in two arenas. On the court he qualified into the main draw at the ATP event in Brisbane, Australia. In the media he is featured in ESPN the Magazine's "Stars Next Door," noting "seven breakthrough athletes poised to shine in 2011 and beyond."

Upon qualifying in Brisbane, Harrison was inserted into the main draw opposite No. 1 seed Robin Soderling, losing 6-2, 6-4. Harrison entered the week at No. 173 on the ATP Rankings, and has had a history of success in Australia, advanced to the semifinals at the Australian Open juniors in 2008. He won the USTA's recent Australian Open Playoff among American players, earning a wildcard into the Grand Slam event in Melbourne.

ESPN the Magazine writes: "Let's face it: This isn't exactly the golden age of American men's tennis. So when Harrison, ranked 173rd in the world, upset 15th-seeded Ivan Ljubicic in the opening round of the 2010 US Open, fans rejoiced. (He lost his next match in five sets to No. 36 Sergiy Stakhovsky.) "I love that Ryan has an all-around game," says Billie Jean King. "He can serve and hit off the ground, and he's strong at the net. He's going to have a great future." With Harrison having earned a spot in this month's Australian Open, the future might already be here."

Regarding his style of play, Harrison says he wants to be able to do it all.

"I've always had an attacking game because I love Pete Sampras," he said. "I'm also trying to play from the backcourt like Novak Djokovic, and kick serve and volley like Patrick Rafter."

Elite Coach Polonsky Offering 10-Under Tennis to Elementary Students via USTA Florida Grant

Matias Polonsky and the Polonsky Academy at the Doral Park Country Club outside of Miami has been announced as the recipient of a $1,000 grant for 10-and-Under Tennis equipment from the United States Tennis Association-Florida's (USTA Florida) "Share the Love" grant initiative.

Nadia Petrova and Matias Polonsky
Polonsky's coaching credentials include working with current WTA stars such as Nadia Petrova and Tamira Paszek, and former player Jennifer Capriati. He is the former director of the Elite Academy at the BallenIsles Country Club in Palm Beach Gardens, and has been a coach with the United States Junior Davis Cup team.

The program will use the 10-and-Under Tennis equipment to introduce young players to the game in a fun format with age-appropriate equipment.

"We have access to an elementary school, and we will target pre-K, kindergarten and first grade children," Polonsky said. "The 10-and-Under Tennis program will continue to be part of our year-round program."

The 10-and-under Tennis play format 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, Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters first learned the game with age-adjusted racquets, balls and court sizes. To see a video of the 10-and-under Tennis play format in action go to: http://10andundertennis.usta.com.

"We would like to promote the 10-and-Under Tennis program to the youth of Doral," Polonsky said. "The goal is to grow the game in the City of Doral and surrounding areas."

USTA Florida annually directs 90% of member dollars back into the community to support tennis programs and projects throughout Florida. USTA Florida's Share the Love grant program helps fund tennis programs and projects throughout Florida communities during challenging economic times. Funding priorities include 10-and-under Tennis and Jr. Team Tennis (coordinator training, start-up, etc.), public facility funding (schools, parks, conversion to permanent 10-and-under play format courts, etc.), community tennis awareness (innovative pro-active start-ups, program expansion), school programs and senior tennis programs/projects.

"We look forward to hearing of the further success of this program," said USTA Florida Director of Community Tennis Linda Curtis. "It is with USTA membership dollars that we are able to offer program grants to communities like these."
Share the Love grant applications are still being accepted by USTA Florida at www.USTASharetheLove.com, or questions can be e-mailed to grants@florida.usta.com. For more information on the 10-and-Under Tennis play format in Florida, go to www.ustaflorida.com. For more info on the Polonsky Academy, e-mail matiastennis@aol.com.






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