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Winners Crowned, UF's Shelton Promotes Kids Team Tennis in Gainesville

March 18, 2014 09:01 AM
The 10-Under division champion Fireballs from DeLand
The 10-Under division finalist Mini-Spartans from Ocala
The Junior Novice division champion Norse Worriers from Ocala
The Junior Novice finalist Super Shots from Gainesville
14-Under division champions The Kickers from Gainesville
The 14-Under division finalist Zulu Warriors from Ocala
The 18-Under division finalist East Side Aces from Gainesville
From left: coach Addison Staples, Youth Tennis Foundation Kelley Scholarship recipient Keonna Perry, and USTA Florida Team Tennis Coordinator Liz Coates
Champion teams from DeLand, Gainesville and Ocala were awarded among 19 teams of 18-Under, 14-Under, Junior Novice and 10-Under division competitors at the USTA Florida Regional Team Tennis Challenge, presented by Wilson Racquet Sports, held March 15-16, 2014 at the Jonesville Tennis Center in Gainesville.

The two-day event featured teams with a minimum of two boys and two girls, and no more than eight players per team.

Attending the event as parents to watch their children compete were University of Florida Men's Tennis Coach Bryan Shelton and Bethune-Cookman Men's Tennis Head Coach Tim Pleasant.

Division champions and finalists:

18-Under Intermediate/Advanced Division: The Spinners (Gainesville) d. East Side Aces (Gainesville)
Spinners Roster: Diana Caro (captain), Hailey McGahee, Marcela Ifju, Logan Blader, Hadare Harris
East Side Aces Roster: Dave Porter (captain), Andy Tseng, Courtney Cribb, Selin Yaylali, Ben Brandt, Derek Li, Kendal Wilby

14-Under Intermediate/Advanced Division: The Kickers (Gainesville) d. Zulu Warriors (Ocala)
The Kickers Roster: Diana Caro (captain), Ivan Esguerra, Leah Markowski, Daniela Ifju, Ben Shelton
Zulu Warriors Roster: Roy Miller (captain), Lexie Smith, Lexi Prusak, Roberto Carrascosa, Chase Calder, Cameron Sullivan

Junior Novice Division: Norse Worriers (Ocala) d. Super Shots (Gainesville)
Norse Worriers Roster: Roy Miller (captain), Liam Riley, Janiyah Benitez, Eric Chen, Jack Storm
Super Shots Roster: Anita Badhwar (captain), Keonna Perry, Wesley Hill, Darmani Ward, Demetrius Henry, Bike Am Rao

10-Under Advanced Division: Fireballs (DeLand) d. Mini-Spartans (Ocala)
Fireballs Roster: Greg Casella (captain), Jake Bowers, Timothy Pleasant, Lillie Pleasant, Gregorio Casella, Joshua Belitz
Mini-Spartans Roster: Roy Miller (captain), Tyler Lesird, Josie Leonard, Grace Qian, Abby Bumgarner, Fransico Davilla

Shelton commented on the value of team tennis for children.

"No. 1 with the team tennis, there's a lot of benefits for these guys," Shelton said. "You get to do it in a fun environment with other players your age, and it's always fun to be able to compete with a team. And then to be able to play matches all day on a Saturday, and they get a chance to be able to compete against some other great competition and develop their skills. That's what it's all about at this age -- having fun and developing your skills."

Pleasant was also on-site at the event watching his children compete.

"I support junior team tennis," said the Bethune-Cookman tennis coach. "It helps the kids learn to be on a team, because tennis is an individual sport, but when they play team tennis they also get an idea of what it is to be on a team. And there's more in the match than just a win or loss for yourself and they get that sense of being on the team. It also helps prepare them for if they want to play high school tennis, and hopefully that leads on to college tennis.

"These events also give them a little bit more exposure outside their normal tennis club or playing in their city. They come to regional locations like Gainesville, Orlando, Tallahassee, Tampa -- playing in the team atmosphere, the camaraderie they build within their team, it doesn't matter their level so I influence them to play in these events."

The Youth Tennis Foundation Kelley Scholarship recipient for the event was Keonna Perry of Gainesville.

USTA Florida Regional Team Tennis Challenges are "BYOT" (bring your own team) events, and do not require previous team tennis league participation. Both USTA members and non-members can participate, with USTA members receiving a $10 discount on registration.

The next Regional Team Tennis Challenge will be April 12-13 at Midtown Athletic Club in Weston, Fla.

To see more upcoming Regional Team Tennis Challenge dates across the state, or to sign-up for an event CLICK HERE.






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