Sampras Loves Ft. Lauderdale and 10 and Under Tennis; More

September 23, 2011 07:54 PM
Sampras Beats Courier in Ft. Lauderdale Title; USTA 10 and Under Tennis Featured

sampras-interview-webPete Sampras defeated Jim Courier 8-6 in the finals Thursday night of the HSBC Tennis Cup to win the opening event of the 2011 Champions Series at the Bank Atlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida. The victory gives Sampras the early lead in pursuit of the No. 1 ranking on the Champions Series, with $1 million dollars of bonus pool money on the line for the top three finishers on the circuit at the end of the season.

"It was really good to get back out there in a relaxed environment and play some of my old friends and competitors, and it seemed like we still have it," said Sampras, the 14-time major champion. "As long as I didn't get hurt and the fans had a good time, the winning was a bonus."

The eight-game pro set final match was tied at five before Sampras broke Courier's serve, then held his own to get ahead 7-5, and earn the two-game cushion he needed. The two stars then traded the next two games, as Sampras closed out the victory on his own serve.

Courier reached the finals with a 7-5 win over Jimmy Connors, who returned to competitive tennis for the first time in 11 years. Connors -- who is just ten weeks removed from left knee surgery -- led the game 4-2, before Courier rallied to win five of the last six games to take the set.

"I'm very happy with the way I played, the tennis was there," said Connors. "The crowd was terrific and I feel pretty good. I really enjoyed feeling those competitive juices again."    

Sampras won his semifinal match 6-4 over Michael Chang.

The night began with an exhibition by USTA Florida of 10 and Under Tennis, featuring local boys and girls rallying with low-compression balls, smaller nets and court sizes and height-adjusted racquets.

"My kids play it, I love it," Sampras said. "That's the way to start them, with soft balls and small courts. Otherwise everything is too big and difficult and they don't have fun. It's got to be fun otherwise they will find something else to do."

Collins Helps Florida Win National Jr. Team Title; Youth Tennis Foundation

By Nancy Morgan, TennisLife-Florida Region 3 (Sun & Nature coasts) columnist

Danielle Collins of St. Petersburg added a national team championship to her already impressive junior resume. The 17-year-old defended the No. 1 position for Florida in this summer's USTA Girls 18 National Team Championships staged in Claremont, Calif., among 16 of the 17 USTA sections.

The fourth-seeded Florida squad beat Middle States, No. 7 Texas and No. 2 Southern California to reach the final with top seed Southern. Through the team competition, Danielle was 4-0 in singles and 3-1 in doubles, including a comeback-win in the No. 1 singles slot to help Florida edge Southern 4-3 for the national title.

Earlier this year, Danielle dropped just one set in six matches on her run to the girls 18 singles crown at the Florida State Closed Championships. Also this year, Danielle collected the USTA National Spring Championship in both the open singles and open mixed doubles and the national open girls doubles.

The team title was especially meaningful to Danielle, who has been battling complications from mononucleosis since April, having to withdraw from both the national clay court and hard court championships.

"I just love the team concept and great chemistry and support we had for each other," Danielle said. "We all have good friendships and were really into winning the championship. It felt like a college match and was a great experience -- I wish there were more tournaments like that, because it would really help prepare for college play."

YTF Hosts Local Tournament

The Youth Tennis Foundation hosted over 30 players in its second annual Local Junior Tournament at The Club at Treasure Island in Treasure Island.

Region 3 winners included Shachaamah Brown, 12, in the girls 16 round robin; Blaire Buck in girls 12 round robin; Frankee Hendricks girls 10; top seed Christopher Reilly boys 10; Rhys Richardson boys 16; and top seed Luke Blankenship in the 18s.

The YTF, established in 1962, is a nonprofit organization that offers support for the development of youth tennis in Florida. To learn more about the YTF and its mission, go to