March 28th, 2016

Ball Kids Get Up Close with UF Tennis Players; Haas Wins Naples $25K USTAPro Event

College Tennis USTA Pro Circuit

UF Tennis Players Support, Supported by Community, Ball Crew

By Anne Koterba, special to USTA Florida

uf mens kids clinic 77 group good tooThe University of Florida men’s tennis team matches this season have offered local junior players opportunities to get up close to the action and interact with UF players. Head coach Bryan Shelton welcomed the idea of trying out ball kids as a pilot program last spring, and the program was popular with players, fans and the kids alike.

In 2016 an “Orange and Blue Ball Crew,” headed up by Kate Harte, UF director of tennis operations, has been a consistent feature at UF Tennis home matches. Between double-header matches this year a group of enthusiastic elementary and middle school kids received “ball crew basic training” from UF racquet stringer Chris McDonald, team manager Peter Slaton, and Gainesville Area Community Tennis Association (GACTA) Executive Director Addison Staples, and they began their duties during the second match of the day.

“I get to have an up-close view of the players while having a good time and a great experience,” said returning ball crew member and junior player Ethan Cockey.

Thanks to Chris McDonald, Addison Staples and Peter Slaton for the Ball Crew Training today, and to Kate Harte for…

Posted by Gainesville Tennis on Monday, January 18, 2016

Eight-year-old Madison and her parents, Ebony Evans-Molock and Dwayne Molock, all loyal UF tennis supporters and USTA Florida volunteers, travel more than 40 miles to Gainesville from their home in Ocala to attend most of the home UF men’s and women’s matches. Madison is also a returning member of the Ball Crew.

“Madison is a huge Gator fan,” her mom said, “and tennis is her favorite sport. She loves being able to work on the court as a ball kid, but also loves getting the opportunity to learn from great athletes. One day she hopes to follow in the footsteps of Brianna Morgan and the many athletes she meets on the courts.”

The GACTA’s Aces in Motion (AIM) program for kids from low-income families also benefits from the ball crew program in terms of exposure and experience. AIM players participated as ball crew both last season and this year. Addison, who oversees the AIM program, said “I think a big benefit of the UF ball crew is that it allows youth to participate and interact with players, officials and coaches during the games. Could you imagine that being done on the football field during a game? It would never happen — this opportunity is unique to tennis.”

After some matches the UF men’s team and coaches have hosted post-match community kids’ clinics where lucky juniors came out and get a chance to meet and hit with their favorite players.

With 10 and Under Tennis equipment provided by GACTA, even the smallest children were able to hit balls with the UF players. There were smiles all around, from parents, children, the coaches and team members alike. Even after a long day, every member of the team demonstrated considerable energy and enthusiasm working with the kids.

Austrian Haas Wins Naples $25K USTA Pro Circuit Event in Florida

Naples-ITF-webUnseeded Austrian Barbara Haas defeated qualifier Elizaveta Ianchuk of the Ukraine 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 in the Sunday final of the Sanchez-Casal Women’s Open sponsored by Germain BMW of Naples, a USTA Pro Circuit event, held in Naples, Fla.

“It was a great victory for me to beat the No. 1 in the tournament,” the 20-year-old Haas said of her second-round encounter with top-seeded Maryna Zanevska of the Ukraine, the only seed she faced in the tournament, speaking to the Naples Daily News. “I actually did not expect to win here, but I’m very happy that I’ve played my game the whole tournament.”

The 23-year-old Ianchuk did not lose a set prior to the final, but was bothered by cramping and fatigue in the third set. In the quarterfinals she upended No. 7 seed Amra Sadikovic of Switzerland.

It was the fifth straight win for Haas in an ITF/USTA Pro Circuit final dating to last year, and her second win of this year following Port Pirie, Australia, in February. She improved to 10-10 in career finals after entering Naples with a career-high ranking of No. 188.

The No. 283-ranked Ianchuk fell to 4-6 in career ITF/USTA Pro Circuit finals, appearing in her first championship round since September 2014.

In the doubles final No. 4 seed Valerie Solovyeva of Russia and Maryna Zanevska of the Ukraine defeated unseeded Sophie Chang of the U.S. and Quirine Lemoine of the Netherlands 7-5, 6-0 for the title.