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Oct. Florida Regional Tennis Columnists

October 14, 2013 03:39 PM
Florida Panhandle Oct. 2013 Tennis News Round-up

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

Jonsson Wins Gold, Wachob 2 Silvers at the ITF Super-Senior World Championships
Brenda Carter (left) and Betty Wachob

Evert Jonsson of Destin won the gold medal at the 2013 International Tennis Federation individual Men's 70 doubles championships held Sept. 15-22, 2013 in Austria, while Panama City's Betty Wachob won the silver medal in the Women's 65 doubles, and another silver medal as a member of the USA's Women's 65 team in the Kitty Godfree Cup at the 33rd International Tennis Federation (ITF) Super-Seniors World Team Championships, held Sept. 9-14 in the Czech Republic.

Jonsson teamed with Jimmy Parker of Santa Fe, N.M., and they were the #6 seed in the tournament. They destroyed the field winning five matches in straight sets, including a 2-and-0 win over the #4 seed, a 1-and-2 win over the #1 seed in the semis, and 2-and-0 in the finals over #5 seeds David Bindon and Alan Wash of Australia. Jonsson also played in the team competition, but for his native Sweden.

Wachob teamed with Brenda Carter of Charleston, S.C., and they were the #2 seeds in their draw. This USA team came within an eyelash of winning the gold in losing 2-6, 7-6(6), 10-4 to top-seeded Petro Kruger of South Africa and Carol Campling of Australia. Wachob and Carter were almost as dominant as Jonsson and Parker, winning all their matches except the finals in straight sets.

The week before the ITF Individual Championships, both Wachob and Carter helped the U.S. Women's 65 team garner the silver medal. The U.S. women lost to France 2-0 in the final.

Congratulations to both Region 1-West players for making such a big splash on the International stage. I'm proud to say that they're my friends and I've lost to them both!

Baehrs Second, Racines Third at National Family Tennis Championships in New York

Pensacola father/son team Scott and Jacob Baehr came in second place, followed by Derrick and Austin Racine in third place at the 2013 National Family Tennis Championships, held Aug. 23-25, 2013 at Sportime Randall's Island in New York City. The Pensacola teams won regional championships in Mobile, Ala., and Diamondhead, Miss. to advance to the national tournament.

The best family tennis teams in the U.S. were determined after three days of fun and intense competition among 23 teams from 14 states in six divisions of play at the 2013 National Family Tennis Championships. Teams received free travel and hotel accommodations at the Grand Hyatt in New York City, as well as tickets to Arthur Ashe Kids Day on Saturday, and the opening day of the US Open at the USTA/Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on Monday.

UWF Men Win Singles and Doubles at USTA/ITA South Regional Division II Championship

University of West Florida (UWF) men's tennis players Bruno Savi and Felipe Frattini won all the hardware at the 2013 USTA/ITA Division II South Region Tennis Championships, held Sept. 27-30, 2013 at UWF in Pensacola, Fla.

The singles and doubles events were played at the Ralph 'Skeeter' Carson Tennis Complex. Savi won the singles competition with a 7-6, 6-2 victory over Saint Leo's Joan Soler. Savi then teamed with Frattini to top Rollins College's Jason Alabaster and Will Kwok 7-5, 6-2 to capture the doubles title.

Eleven NCAA Division II colleges and universities participated in the event.

Tennis Growing at Tallahassee's Community Centers

by Kelly Tucker, USTA Florida Region 1-East (Tallahassee-area) Columnist

Region_1E-2Over the years volunteers have assisted the City of Tallahassee's Department of Parks, Recreation, and Neighborhood Affairs in offering tennis to both children and adults, in areas throughout the city where tennis has not historically been provided. 

For example, programs were offered for many years at Jake Gaither, LeVerne Payne (Fourth Avenue), Walker-Ford, and Jack Mclean; however, sustaining those programs proved to be difficult over the years due to a declining economy, budget cuts, and a lack of volunteers to assist City staff. Most of these programs were moved to other locations or disbanded entirely. 

Because of this, Glen Howe, the city's tennis superintendent, made it his goal to see that tennis is provided throughout the year at most of the city's community centers, including, Bond, Walker-Ford, LeVerne Payne, Jake Gaither, Lawrence-Gregory, and Jack McLean. According to Glen, these programs are impossible to maintain without the help of dedicated volunteers. He believes that it requires a community effort as volunteers are essential in ensuring that these programs thrive because the city alone doesn't have the manpower nor the resources to successfully staff these programs. 

In recent years, Walker-Ford has seen the most organized tennis program, with lessons provided for up to 25 children on Tuesday afternoons. This effort is currently being expanded to include Thursday afternoons as well with the help of additional volunteers, including Sandy Layne, who also serves as the USTA's 10 and Under Tennis League Coordinator. 

Another regular volunteer at Walker-Ford, Lois Carrington, is also making tennis happen at the Macon Community. Each week, and sometimes twice a week, Lois offers tennis lessons to the dozen of so youth who live in the housing project there. Lois initially came to the courts to give lessons to a friend but instead was drawn to the many children who were outside the fence watching in amazement. Lois retrieved some racquets and balls she had in her car and invited the children to come inside the fence and play.  She was surprised that one of the children had never even seen a tennis racquet. Lois' volunteerism has since attracted the interest of the adult residents in the Macon Community.  She hopes to soon recruit some of these residents as volunteers to assist her with the program.   

Tennis also recently started at the Springfield Community by Glen and a volunteer for more than 50 children who attend the after-school program there that is funded by Grace Mission Episcopal Church, a non-profit charity that helps reach the homeless, poor, and underemployed population, among others. 

A "Masters Tennis" program is also currently being offered to seniors in the gym at the Jake Gaither Community Center. This program is similar to the 10 and Under Tennis program for juniors in that smaller racquets and foam balls are used on shortened courts using a simpler scoring system. The first person or team winning four points wins the game. The person or team winning six games first wins the match. Players switch sides every four games. 

To volunteer for any of these programs, please contact Glen Howe at (850) 891-3920 or via email at glen.howe@talgov.com. 

Frenchy's Serves Tennis Kids in Clearwater

by Nancy Morgan, USTA Florida Region 3 (Sun & Nature Coast) Columnist

region_3Looking for exciting and competitive doubles action, award-winning Gumbo soup and just a really good time while raising money for a good cause? Then Frenchy's 21st Annual Gumbo Tennis Classic, one of Florida's largest recreational doubles tournaments, is the choice for you!
The men's, women's and mixed doubles NTRP contest is Nov. 8-10 at the Henry L. McMullen Tennis Complex in Clearwater. Registration may be done online at www.bbbspc.org/gumbo by Nov. 1.

"Frenchy's is one of our agency's largest fundraising events with all proceeds going directly towards providing children in our community with caring adult mentors," said Diana Dias Gilzean, BBBS development coordinator. "The popularity continues to increase due in part to the fabulous auction. Funds raised will help us continue to positively impact our communities, neighborhoods and schools."
Since its inception in 1992, Frenchy's has been an annual tennis benefit event for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Pinellas County to assist the not-for-profit organization. The concept of tennis-to-help-BBBS was the result of the friendship of the late Tom Esslinger, BBBS's executive director for over 20 years, and Michael "Frenchy" Preston, who became involved in the big brother program in the early 1980s.
Preston is a well-known entrepreneur who has locked in on some of the most popular restaurants on Clearwater Beach, and now with on-going plans to establish more on the mainland. Frenchy's restaurants are especially known for their prized Gumbo soup, which an estimated nearly 65 gallons are consumed each year during the tennis classic!

According to BBBS staff, about $1,200 is needed to match a child with a positive role model. In the past, $15,000 to $20,000 has been raised during Frenchy's, including 100 percent of the Silent Auction proceeds!
Great tennis, excellent food, worthy cause -- sign up now!

Joining Forces for Fun Team Tennis

Thanks to the efforts of Abby Kronk in North Pinellas and Christina Hill in Pasco, juniors' team-playing opportunities have increased for all ages and abilities!
"It just made sense to join together and give our kids more playing opportunities," Hill said. "They like to play different kids and they all seem to have a real good time."
The 2013 Fall Fun Jr. Team Tennis league matches begin later this month for six weeks and include teams in the 12-and-up, 10s and 8s divisions in beginner, intermediate and advanced skill levels.
Matches in Pasco are on the New Port Richey Recreation Center's hard courts, and North Pinellas play is at Tarpon Tennis on their red clay courts.    
This is the third season for the league, which has grown from each previous league. New players are encouraged to join the fun, said Hill, who may be reached at chill.tennis@gmail.com. Kronk may be reached at club@tarpontennis.com.

Orlando Crowns Summer Tennis League Winners

By Susie Rahimitabar, USTA Florida Region 4 (Central Florida) Columnist
iregion_4-phone_pics_2013_041The end of the summer season for the Orlando Summer League had the top teams from each of the divisions playing off in a fun, yet competitive final at Sanlando Park in Altamonte Springs.

Diana Mincer has organized and run this level for years with lots of help from the tennis community. The league posts results on Tenniscores.com and is one of many that uses this website in the Greater Orlando Area.

2013 Season Results:

A/B: First Place Lake Cane White, Second Maitland Strikers, Third Place Sanlando Sure Shots, 4th Place OTC Attacquers

B: First Place Ft Gatlin Netsetters B, Second Place Lk Cane Bailey

BC: First Place Rio Pinar Slammers, Second Place Azalea Aces, Third Place Sanlando Slice and Dice, 4th Place Ft Gatlin Scrappers

A/B North: First Place Lake Cane White -- Audrey White, Chris Alfert, Giselle Serralles, Kathleen Hansen, Barby Molnar, Susie Rahimitabar

A/B North: Second Place Sanlando Sure Shots -- Debbie Longstaff, Julie Davis, Kimbra Hennessy, Lia Lin, Elania Troyano, Mary Tusing

B: Ft. Gatlin Netsetters -- Wren Sanchez, Shannon Lindborg, Kris Smith, Diane Vause, Lori VanDyke, Page Teague

B/C South: First Place Rio Pinar Super Slammers -- Lin Ha, Stephanie Norris, Chi Nguyen, Ann Hodges, Lanie Friestan, Sue Koziol

B/C North: Second Place Sanlando Slice and Dice -- Elizabeth Lunsford, Debbie Bissell, Gloria Benavides, Theresa Scott, Janet Raney, Chris Edlund

Fundraiser for Sergio

A fundraiser has been set up for Sanlando tennis pro Sergio Rivas, who collapsed in a seizure while on the tennis court. The seizures have continued with no definitive diagnosis, and the campaign "$40/Love For Sergio" has been started for assisting with medical bills.

Please show your support to Sergio and his family by contributing to this fund. He has Helped us through the years with our tournaments as well as many lessons. A Facebook page has been set up so that you can keep up with Sergio's progress as well as the progress of our project. Go to http://facebook.com/40loveforSergio.

Coral Gables' Stewart's Success All in the Tennis Family

By Cary Bayer, USTA Florida Region 8 (North Gold Coast) Writer
Katerina, Luciana, Caesar, and Marina at the Sony Open

Coral Gables-based Katerina Stewart, who has been ranked No. 1 in the USTA junior girls nationals at ages 12, 14 and 16, and who just played in the US Open juniors, recently headed to Mexico to play Junior Fed Cup. The 16-year-old home-schooled pro, who's training part-time at the USTA's training center in Boca Raton, comes from a family where tennis balls might just be carried through the blood.

Her dad and coach, Caesar Stewart, runs the high-performance Next Level Tennis Academy out of Coral Gables Country Club, where he manages the tennis program. Her mom, Marina, was on the WTA pro tour, and reached a world ranking of about 800. She's been the women's tennis head coach at Cypress Bay High School in Weston, bringing home a whopping six state championships in nine years, and was named High School Coach of the Year in 2012 by the Ft. Lauderdale-based Sun Sentinel.

Katerina's paternal grandparents were on the Romanian national team that was training for the 1972 Olympics in the 400-meter hurdles (grandpa), and the heptathlon (grandma), before they defected to America.

Why, even Katerina's three-year-old sister Luciana is a "superstar," according to her dad, who knows something about toddler tennis -- Katerina got her start when she was a two-year-old literally sitting in dad's tennis basket while he fed balls to students.

Tennis is the glue that holds the Stewarts together; that, and the philosophy of "hard work, commitment, and responsibility," according to dad, a former solider, who preaches a "very, very disciplined" lifestyle of training, eating, and resting, for his family and students. It pays off: When he was tennis coach at Ransom Everglades High School in Coconut Grove, his boys and girls teams won the state championships. And, now, his daughter is representing her country.

This passionate tennis teacher not only knows how to bring tennis players to the next level, he also recognizes excellence in tennis teaching in others. A woman named Marina, who he hired to run the juniors program at the Biltmore Hotel a couple of decades ago, did "such a great job that I married her." Had these mixed doubles partners not shared their genes, the U.S. would have had to find another girl to play junior Fed Cup.





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