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Tennis Blog: USTA Florida at 2011 USTA Boys' 16 Intersectionals -- Day 5

July 11, 2011 08:42 AM
Brandon Stokes, the men's tennis coach for Florida Atlantic University, is coaching the USTA Florida Boys' 16 Intersectionals team this week in Shreveport, La., and blogs for USTA Florida:
DAY 5 Final Blog
Team Ferocious Florida delivered today in a battle for 5th place. We split the singles matches after a 3 hour 40 minute match at 3 singles! We took an almost 2 hour break, ate lunch, and resumed with doubles play where we promptly swept without dropping a set. The final team score was 6-3 over the Eastern section.
intersectional boys-girls 16 bannerThe weather was cooler, overcast, with a slight breeze today but the fire in our bellies and the look in our eyes was white hot light! Singles started and ended quickly for our 1 girls player and team captain "Bam Bam" Martin. She rolled her ankle in the second game and I defaulted her. She wanted to continue for the team but I would not jeopardize her health. She would make an appearance in mixed doubles though...The boys got us on the board though at 3 singles when "Missile" Mylnikov won 6-2, 6-3. Then the Eastern section grabbed some of Mr. Momentum in singles. We lost at 2 singles when "Silent and Sneaky" was outplayed by a tough player 6-4, 6-4. The second set rally just came up short...Then we lost at 2 singles when "Bodacious" Burich kept battling and rallying but lost a close, competitive match 6-4, 6-4 as well. We are down 1-3 in the match....but this is when this team of Florida juniors is at our best. Their belief, support, and execution shine when our backs are against the wall. We would win every match the rest of the day.
The entire Momentum Family showed up at our place and would not leave. "MJ" Butsch won 6-1, 5-7,6-2 to make it 2-3 in the team score. The best drama was now playing on court 3 singles -- a show court at the club. This was better and longer than any Harry Potter movie playing in theaters. Grab your popcorn and water because this was a doozy!
Adi "Sensitive and Strong" Milstein won the first set 7-5. Lost the second set 5-7 and then the see saw 3rd set began. Breaks of serve was the norm...time kept ticking...a sore back was tightening up...Sensitive and Strong kept her essence on display -- relentlessness. She fought, elevated her shot execution and played without fear. She was going to win this match for her and our team. She forces a tiebreak with a solid service hold and then went to another gear. She earns a positive break on the first point: 1-0. Then crushes serves and is up 2-0, 3-0...Snaps a return 4-0...another thunder bolt is unleashed 5-0...an error 5-1...now 6-1 and the team is jacked. 6-2...and then the winning shot and a 7-2 tiebreak win. The match ended at 1140amCDT.
We are tied 3-3! Our strength is coming up and the doubles teams are ready. Going into today's doubles we had won 10 of 12 doubles matches. At the end of the day and tournament our team won 13 of 15 doubles matches! Well done team.
Our mixed doubles team of Bam Bam and Silent and Sneaky reunited one more time to win 6-1, 6-1. We are up 4-3 as a team and up a set at girls doubles. Sensitive and Strong and Rabbit reunited as well and won 7-5, 6-4 to clinch the match for us. The clinching point was won when Sensitive and Strong drove a penetrating groundstroke and the other team coughed up a lob that Rabbit bounced over the fence for the winner! 5-3 team Florida. The boys doubles wrapped up 6-4, 6-4 to make it 6-3. MJ Butsch and Missile Mylnikov earned the victory for us.
We finished 4-1 this year. Several individuals had stellar performances. The team bond is awesome and our goofy energy is contagious! I will miss coaching this group the rest of the summer.
We have an awards banquet and pasta dinner tonight. The team will go swimming at one of the host families homes tonight and then pack up for our early return to National Clay's.
Signing off from Shreveport...stay hungry and humble.
Day 4

intersectional boys-girls 16 bannerFerocious Florida played the Mid Atlantic section today. Play started at 945amCDT and the last singles match finished at 2pmCDT. The team match score was 3-3! We took a 2hour plus break and started doubles at 415pmCDT and finished the last match at 715pmCDT! Ferocious Florida showed our collective heart and belief in each other and won 6-3 against a gritty and respected team.
Singles started with our "Silent and Sneaky" Perez-Blanco doing what he has done all week -- lead us on court with tough competitive play. He won at 2 singles 6-1, 6-4. The Mid Atlantic section got on the board next to even the match 1-1 with a win at 2 singles on the girls side. "Bodacious" Burich went down fighting 6-4, 6-2. We lost a little momentum at this point when we lost at 1 singles on the girls side 7-6 (6), 6-1. "Bam Bam" Martin battled as best she could but the other girl would not give her anything to get back in the match. Our energy level is picking up and it showed in doubles.
We are down 1-2 and the heat index is climbing as well...and it is illegal in Shreveport to have shade anywhere in a public place according to a new statute titled: "Suffer, Sweat, and Pray for November."
Tommy "Missile" Mylnikov got the team balanced with a 6-3, 6-3 win at 3 singles. Mental clarity and a tenacious look characterized the Missile today. The remaining matches split sets. Two matches remain and only the sun and dirt will be remaining after they finish.
Justin "MJ" Butsch battled at 1 singles in a dramatic roller coaster match of emotions and levels of play. He dropped the potential heartbreaker -- but his mates rallied around him -- 7-6 (2), 5-7, 7-5. An important learning moment for the young Floridian. He will be better and tougher because of this experience. We trail 2-3 with 1 match on. Kristin "Rabbit" Wiley is battling at 3 singles. Her athletic play wears down the other junior and Florida prevails 7-5, 3-6, 6-4. Rabbit displayed nothing but strength --physically and mentally -- the entire day...and she had a long one.
The doubles stage has been set. We have the actors...we just need the script to be written...today it was improvisation Ferocious Florida style. The team was down a set on all 3 courts but won the second sets on all 3 courts and then the third sets as well...amazing effort...tenacity...belief...and fun!
Our girls doubles hit the court first. We were blown away in the first 6-2. But the doubles stars flipped the script. Adi "Sensitive and Strong" Milstein took command of the team and the doubles court. Her and Rabbit changed tactics on service games and it worked...improvising with confidence...how sweet it is for the youth! They won 6-4, 6-3 with an emphatic and inevitable overhead put away into the side fence by Sensitive and Strong to give our team a 4-3 edge.
The mixed doubles team of Bam Bam and Silent and Sneaky delivered a script fulfilling their names. They dropped Bam Bam's in the second and third sets and then hit sneaky and deft volleys at the net. Impressive teamwork, communication, and trust between these mates. The score 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 and a mild, jubilant cheer released from the host families and our team as Ferocious Florida advances in the tournament with the clinching doubles victory.
We had one more match in progress...boys doubles. "Orlando" Landert and Missile dropped the first set 4-6. They made an adjustment on the return of serve game and with complete belief and proper execution turned the match in their favor. They won 7-5, 10-7 after the first set. Proper fundamentals and enthusiasm characterized their play today.
Our team has grown this week and we have more to do. A host family has dinner waiting for us again tonight to help us recover and be at our best tomorrow. These families, the club, the community are amazing. Every tournament needs to look at how this is done. Special people making our juniors feel like family and champions every day no matter what. This is how we make the world a better place even as we play in an insular tennis world.
I am proud to witness the growth and the bond of our young team. They are talented and good kids with good families.  I hope the families, coaches, and USTA Florida are taking time to enjoy what they are accomplishing here. I am lucky to be here with them...and, we want all of you to share in the joys (and the pains as well).
Check back tomorrow for our final blog...we play the Eastern section at 8amCDT for 5th place.
Day 3

intersectional boys-girls 16 bannerWhat a day! The Ferocious Florida team battled the defending champs and #2 seed Midwest section from 12:15 p.m. CDT to 7:25 p.m. There was a 45-minute break between the final singles match ending and the first doubles match to take the court. The heat index was over 115 most of the day. It was awesome!
The singles started with a fury. We raced out to a lead at court 3 singles in the boys and girls matches. We played even for the most of the first on the others. It was only 1 break in each set that would be the difference between staking claim to the match or digging out of a hole.
We lost at 1 singles on the boys side to go down 0-1. "MJ" Butsch battled and rattled the Midwest stud but could not break him down completely. Solid effort and attitude by our 1 player. We then went down in a 2 hour plus straight set loss 6-4, 6-2 at 2 singles. Our boy, "Orlando" Landert kept applying pressure but the Midwest's defense was too good today. Our stalwart on the girl's side this season at 3 singles got us on the board and narrowed the team score to 1-2 with a self-imposed dramatic flair. "Sensitive and Strong" Milstein decided that being up a set and 3-0 was not going to work today so she decided to play 3 sets and 3 hours of tennis to win 6-4 in the third. She worked through the match and her relentlessness paid off.
The Midwest stretched the team lead to 3-1 with a sweep of the boys side. They won at 3 singles over "Missile" Mylnikov 7-6(2), 6-3. The first set drew spectators, players, and coaches from other teams to watch because the level was so high. The Missile is growing...
We went down 1-4 at 1 singles on the girls side as "Bam Bam" Martin was beaten 7-6(4), 6-3. A peculiar match that will not be repeated again. The final match on was at 2 singles. "Bodacious" Burich battled in an epic straight-set stress test that consumed almost 3 hours of play. Strategic and tactical changes, endless rallies, net flourishes, and some good ol' fashioned gutsy play by both competitors. It was cool to be hot and sweaty in Shreveport on court 3 this afternoon. We went down 7-5, 6-2 and the team lost 1-5.
We were not done. We discussed as a team after the singles that our effort was fine not perfect -- too many valleys that cost us but we did our best to recover and fight. Our attitude was positive and fighting...but...our spirit was low and unacceptable. We challenged each other to give more of ourselves. To come out of our selfish shell of junior tennis and give it up for our mates, team, state. To use the doubles play against the defending champions as a spring board to Wednesday's battle versus the Mid Atlantic section. The look in our eyes when we took the doubles court was determined. We caught a glimpse of our essence and then we went and put it on display. Gutsy effort by our 15 and 16 year old team in tough conditions. I am proud to be their coach. We have a team identity and now the fun really begins as we play at 9:45 a.m. CDT versus the Mid Atlantic section. Singles starts followed by doubles at 4:15 p.m. CDT.
The team is having dinner yet again at one our host families homes. Lots of carbohydrate loading again!!! We are spoiled in Shreveport!
We also wanted to thank the USTA for the awesome uniform tops and the team jackets. We took sharp team photos last night. Thank you for making this possible.
We lost at mixed doubles 6-1, 7-5. We beat ourselves early but responded with a ferocious spirit and battled in the second. We are learning!

We won the boys doubles to narrow the team margin to 2-6. The dynamic duo of "Silent but Sneaky" Perez-Blanco and "Orlando" Landert won in 3 sets 2-6, 6-4, 10-7. Solid teamwork and relentless fundamentals sparked by the silent one did the damage. Our girls team won in 3 sets to finish this important team identity day for Ferocious Florida. "Rabbit" Wiley and "Bam Bam" Martin won 7-5, 6-7(4), 10-7 to send us out on a positive note into a team dinner and tomorrow's match. We lost 3-6 to the defending champs but we gained invaluable self knowledge, team stickiness and gutsiness, and had some sweaty fun in sunny Shreveport!
Day 2

intersectional boys-girls 16 bannerOur fantastic Florida team of 15-16 year olds began today in swelterin' Shreveport where we left off yesterday. Everyone rolled to straight-set wins against the Northern section. Chase "Silent but Sneaky" Perez-Blanco started the momentum train rollin' for our team at 2 singles with a 6-1, 6-2 win. It was the first games he surrendered in 3 matches so far. Blair "Bam Bam" Martin got us to 2-0 with a 6-1, 6-3 victory. It's good to have the real Bam Bam back :)
The boys decided to stretch the lead at 1 and 3 singles for our tenacious team. Oliver "Orlando" Landert showed superior mental control and won 6-3, 6-2. Tommy "Missile" Mylnikov made it 4-0 with a 6-1, 6-0 win at 3 singles. The team clincher was Adi "Sensitive and Strong" Milstein with a 6-2, 6-1 victory. The team sweep was completed with an energetic and focused effort by Kristin "Rabbit" Wiley at 3 singles. She closed out the singles day with a 6-0, 6-0 win.
Each teammate took care of their own court, their match, and thus honored the team with another singles sweep. Our effort was solid, the attitudes outstanding, and the spirit was a collective determination. We are healthy and taking good care of ourselves. The host families continue to spoil us! We have team pictures tonight after doubles and then a team dinner of pasta and salad...yum yum yum.
Our tenacious team won the boys and girls doubles in straight sets on this hot and steamy afternoon in Shreveport, LA but our mixed doubles dropped an entertaining 3 set match. Our boys doubles team of Justin "MJ" Butsch and Chase "Silent and Sneaky" Perez-Blanco put on a display of righteous returns and vicious volleys to win 6-2, 6-0. The girls dynamic duo team would shine just as bright with a 6-1, 6-2 victory. Lauren "Bodacious" Burich and Adi "Sensitive and Strong" Milstein moved deftly, struck thunderous bolts from the ground to give our team the 8-0 lead.
As the heat index climbed to over 115 so did the drama on the mixed doubles court. Oliver "Orlando" Landert and Kristin "Rabbit" Wiley dropped the first set 7-6 (5) but responded with a focused Florida effort in the second to win 6-2. The 3rd set was a match tiebreak. Neither team held more than a 1 point advantage at anytime until the final point! The change overs were 3-3 and 6-6. The Northern section served it out at 9-8 with a exclamation point overhead finish. The final team match score Florida 8-1.
We have an opportunity tomorrow for an upset over the Midwest section. It will be tons of fun. Many of the juniors know one another so it will be a spirited and enthusiastic junior team competition. First serve is 12:15 p.m. CDT with the singles followed by the doubles.
We are off to a team dinner at the OG for endless salad and some serious carbohydrate loading!!!

intersectional boys-girls 16 banner

We started competition today at 8 a.m. It was a cool 85 degrees with a nice breeze. The format is 3 boys singles and 3 girls singles played simultaneously. Team Florida (we will have a team name by tomorrow morning's match...our collective personality is forming) is the overall 6th seed out of 16 teams. We start with round robin play in our pool of 4 teams. The top seed is the Midwest section the overall 2 ranked team. Then the Northern section followed by the Caribbean section.
We played the Carribean section today. We won the first set on all 6 courts to set the tone for the day. Oliver, aka Orlando, Landert clinched the first point at 2 singles. This was followed immediately by Chase "the Silent One" Perez-Blanco. The girls stretched the lead at 3 singles with Adi "The Sensitive" Milstein and at 2 singles as Lauren "nickname is forming" Burich. The clinching match was won by Justin "MJ" Butsch at 1 singles in straight sets. The last match on was Blair "Bam Bam" Martin at 1 singles as she earned a tough 3 set victory to give our a team a 6-0 margin going into doubles play.
Our mixed doubles team of Perez-Blanco and Burich stretched our lead to 7-0 followed by the inspired play at girls doubles by Milstein and Kristen "nickname forming" Wiley. The 8-0 lead was capped off with a victory at boys doubles by MJ and Tommy "the Nitro Neck" Mylnikov. The 9-0 lead was characterized by solid effort, positivity, and team support. It was a good day!
We have team dinner at one of our wonderful host families tonight. The Hathaway family is spoiling us with a cookout at their beautiful home. We continue to eat well, hydrate, stretch, rest, and have fun. Day 1 was a success!





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