What a year in Florida tennis.

Florida USTA League teams won a record three first-place finishes at USTA League Nationals since the expansion of league age groups. We lost some legendary Florida players and organizers, and gained a 10 and Under Youth Tennis Tournament Pathway, and a 10-and-under Green Ball Sectionals.

USTA Florida broke ground on a new headquarters to be completed next year, right next to the 100-court $100 million USTA National Campus in Orlando. Florida tennis centers continued to garner national awards and recognitions, while in addition to USTA Florida League teams, other teams and individuals showed their drive to be No. 1.

The USTA Florida Section Foundation continued to be a national leader in the amount and number of community grants given to Florida grassroots organizations and individuals looking to grow the game. From blind tennis and other special-needs programs to the XGLOsive “Lights Out” tour, everyone was getting in the game.

Find yourself, your local team of your home town below in a look at highlights of 2016:

JANUARY 

featured-news_xglosive-group-throwing-balls-in-the-air
USTA Florida and XGLOsive announced the 10-city “Lights Out Tour,” a series of 10 black light tennis city stops open to all players and families. The events proved to be fan favorites throughout the year. “These events are ideal for all levels and ages of players to break away from conventional play and enjoy a socially, competitive and fun play in the black-light environment,” says USTA Florida Director of Marketing & Membership Laura Bowen. “This provides facilities across the state with a unique tennis experience to help build tennis programs and generate revenue.”

Leagues NEW_Event CircleTwo teams each from from Marion County (Ft. King Tennis Center, Ocala) and Orange/Seminole counties (Red Bug Lake Park, Casselberry; and Sanlando Park, Altamonte Springs), and teams from Alachua County (Jonesville Tennis Center, Gainesville), Broward County (Midtown Athletic Club, Weston), Lee County (Cape Coral Racquet Club), Leon County (Forestmeadows Park, Tallahassee), and Walton County (Rosemary Beach Racquet Club) won USTA Florida League Sectionals titles at the USTA Florida Combo 18 & Over League Sectional Championships in the 6.5/8.5 and 5.5/7.5/9.5 divisions.

Boca Raton’s Christian Alshon won the Boys’ 16s singles title at the USTA National Winter Championships in Scottsdale, Ariz., further boosting a ranking that at the time was No. 1 in Florida and No. 3 nationally according to the Tennis Recruiting Network.

Teenagers Sofia Kenin of Pembroke Pines and Tommy Paul of Boca Raton won USTA Pro Circuit events, the beginning of respective ranking climbs during the year.

VOM_Jeff Dinsmore January 2016Jeff Dinsmore makes things happen for the Orange Blossom Tennis Association, the “social tennis group for LGBT players and their allies” in Orlando, and says society is quickly changing. “It’s not ‘gay tennis’ or ‘straight tennis’ or any other tennis — it’s getting on the courts and hitting that green little tennis ball.” He was named the January Tennis Volunteer of the Month.


FEBRUARY

Kidz Day-1
Gusty conditions couldn’t stop kids of all ages playing tennis in red ball, orange ball, green ball and yellow balls groups at the 2016 Delray Beach Open Kidz Day event. The Univision television network was also on hand, interviewing Spanish-speaking players and families for a feature on the Kidz Day event. “This year’s Kidz Day was also a great opportunity for Hispanic families to share their stories and love for the sport with Univision,” said USTA Florida Diversity & Marketing Coordinator Maria Romo-Jackson.

Leagues NEW_Event CircleUSTA Florida Tri-Level League teams from Orlando and Fleming Island (located outside of Jacksonville) advanced to Indian Wells, Calif., to represent the USTA Florida Section after capturing men’s and women’s titles at the USTA Florida Tri-Level Playoff Championship at the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach.

Upon the completion of the 2015 USTA Florida League season in Feb. 2016, Pinellas County was crowned the 2015 USTA Florida League County Champion, advancing a total seven teams to USTA League Nationals. Pinellas finished comfortably ahead of a three-way second-place tie between Broward, Marion and Orange counties, all with five titles each.

Betty Rosenquest Pratt, who in 1967 received the USTA Florida Female Merit Award and in 1983 was inducted into the USTA Florida Tennis Hall of Fame, died at age 90. In an era where girls or women playing competitive tennis was looked upon with bemusement, she played for the newly-founded Rollins College team and went on to reach the semifinals at the US Open and Wimbledon, also captaining the U.S. Fed Cup team.

USTA Florida’s partnership with the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) showed an increase in high school “No-Cut” tennis teams from 22 at the end of 2015 to 164 registered schools in 2016. “Growing this program is just the first step in growing the opportunity for high school tennis in years to come,” said Thad Hawkes, the entry-level tournament coordinator for USTA Florida and a high school coach.

The University of Florida club tennis team capped a perfect 2015-16 season, winning every tournament they participated in and defeating the University of Miami 29-18 in the Gold Bracket final of the USTA Florida Tennis on Campus Section Championships, held at Sanlando Park in Altamonte Springs, Fla.

VOM_Sibo Kangwa 2-2016Sibongile “Sibo” Kangwa of Fort Myers was named the February Tennis Volunteer of the Month. “Sibo is so unusual in that she is a black women in a predominantly white male-coaching fraternity, establishing herself as a respected professional whose volunteer participation on the USTA Florida Coaches’ Commission and Youth Tennis Progression Regional Advisory Group will have wide-spread impact,” said Lyn Bruner of the local Lee County Community Tennis Association. “She works tirelessly on behalf of our sport.”


MARCH

The Bryan brothers speak to another pair of twins at the USTA Florida Kids Day at the Miami Open

The Bryan brothers speak to another pair of twins at the USTA Florida Kids Day at the Miami Open


USTA Florida Kids Day at the Miami Open
 brought out ATP and WTA stars such as the Bryan brothers and Johanna Konta, with local and international media celebrating “Tenis para Todos,” and more than 500 children and their parents watching from the stands or participating on the Grandstand Court.

Families took to the courts at approximately 40 USTA Play Days and other events across the state of Florida, part of approximately 1,000 events that were hosted across the U.S. in March in celebration of World Tennis Day on March 8.

pathway graphicTennis became “gamified” in March for players age 10 and under, with added online tracking game-play elements to engage players on the 10 and Under Youth Tennis Tournament Pathway. In addition to playing right-sized tennis with modified racquets, balls and courts, kids in Florida can track their own points from earning “stars” and “trophies” as they progress, helping Florida grow unique tournament players age 10 and under from 400 to more than 1,200 players this year.

The Tennis Owners & Managers Conference had some eye-opening presentations about the tennis industry during the Miami Open. In the U.S. 83 million adults and kids self-report as having “no physical activity,” and obesity rates are at an all-time high. Tennis is fighting that trend as the only major participation sport with growth (6 percent) over the last eight years as other sports are losing players.

MTA_Elliott JamesWhen USTA Florida rolled out the short-court Masters Tennis format, Palm Coast’s Elliott James was one of the first “ambassadors” on board to help spread the word on the fun easier-to-play version of tennis. “Everyone should have the opportunity to play tennis,” James says about the short-court format. “The games go fast using the lower-bouncing ball and shorter courts. It makes it easy to pick up and learn, plus a lot of fun to play.” He was named the March Tennis Volunteer of the Month.


APRIL

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Pinellas County (Clearwater and St. Pete), which last league season won more USTA Florida League Sectionals titles than any other county, picked up where it left off with two titles at the 2016 USTA Florida Adult 55 & Over 3.0/4.0 Sectional Championships. Clay (Fleming Island) and Marion (Ocala) counties were also winners at the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach.

Alachua County (Jonesville Tennis Center, Gainesville), Collier County (Pelican Marsh, Naples), Indian River County (North River Shores Tennis Club, Stuart), Lee/Charlotte counties (Park Meadow Tennis Club, Ft. Myers), Nassau County (Amelia National, Fernandina Beach), and Polk County (Lake Wales Country Club) were crowned Florida Sectional champions at the 2016 USTA Florida Adult 65 & Over Sectional League Championships at the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach.

The 2016 TEAM USA National Junior Team. From left to right: Axel Nefve, Andrew Fenty, Jaycer Lyeons, Adam Neff, Christian Alshon, Sangeet Sridhar, Govind Nanda, Michael Heller

The 2016 TEAM USA National Junior Team. From left to right: Axel Nefve, Andrew Fenty, Jaycer Lyeons, Adam Neff, Christian Alshon, Sangeet Sridhar, Govind Nanda, Michael Heller

Florida juniors Christian Alshon (Boca Raton; Coach: Eleazor Magallon), Michael Heller (Weston; Coach: Arthur Heller), and Adam Neff (Bradenton; Coach: Brandon Wagner) qualified along with five other players to the 2016 Team USA National Junior Team, a USTA training program designed to give a collection of America’s best young players, born in either 2000 or 2001, opportunities to train together during the summer, and travel to play against top junior competition from around the world.

The West reclaimed the Florida Cup men’s team competition title over the East for the 10th time in 13 tries with a 32-18 victory in matches held at University Park Country Club in Sarasota. “The West team was led by Chris Muller in the 40s division, Eric Luxembourg in the 50s, and Larry Turville in the 65s,” said organizer Mark Taylor.

MVP_Mary Linzy 4-2016Mary Alice Linzy learned how to compete from her father, who had one arm but still played professionally on the Florida tennis circuit in the 1940s. The Tallahassee native, who is an active league player, has volunteered in the game for more than 23 years because, “I want children to enjoy tennis as I did as a child.” She was named the April Florida Tennis Volunteer of the Month for sharing her love for the game with children in Tallahassee.


MAY

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The Tallahassee Tennis Challenger in its 28th year continued its tradition of community events for youth, hosting 800 kids from Boys Town North Florida, City Community Centers, Grace Mission, Leon County Schools, and Special Olympics. Five events were held during the week, including a two-day 10 and Under Tennis event featuring 500 elementary school students. Each school participating was given free tennis equipment from the USTA to provide 10 and Under Tennis programs at their respective schools. A Tennis Extravaganza event was organized by the City of Tallahassee Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Affairs for its after-school programs.

JohnstonFlorida lost a wheelchair tennis legend and advocate when multiple US Open Championships winner and former internationally-ranked player Johnny Johnston of Gainesville died at age 67. Johnston was 19 in 1967 when he was shot twice in the side and once in the arm in Vietnam, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. “He’s one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met,” Steve Ellard told the Gainesville Sun. “He’s so positive…If you feel sorry for yourself, spend a day with Johnny. It’ll all go away.”

Marion County (Ft. King Tennis Center, Ocala) stopped Volusia/Flagler counties from winning a second straight title, and Pinellas County (St. Pete Tennis Center) took home a Florida state title at the 2016 USTA Florida Mixed 40 & Over 6.0/8.0 League Sectional Championships, held at the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach.

Leagues NEW_Event CirclePinellas County (McMullen Tennis Center, Clearwater) won a third consecutive title in the 9.0 division, and Volusia/Flagler counties (Florida Tennis Center, Daytona Beach) won the 7.0 division at the 2016 USTA Florida Mixed 40 & Over 7.0/9.0 League Sectional Championships at the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach.

Collier County (Naples) won two titles, and Broward County (Coral Springs) and Volusia County (Deland) captured one each at the 2016 USTA Florida 55 & Over League 3.5/4.5 Sectional Championships at the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach.

Featured_Melissa Garcia-headParents who coach USTA Junior Team Tennis squads are, especially in the younger age groups, often a child’s early introduction to fair play, camaraderie, teamwork and sportsmanship. They teach not only the rules and etiquette of tennis, but also a love of the game. “I don’t really see this as work, but it is something I enjoy and love being a part of,” says Miami Junior Team Tennis parent and captain Melissa Garcia, who was named the Florida Tennis May Volunteer of the Month.

 

JUNE

An unseeded player punched through to claim a first state title in the Boys’ 18s, and another gained revenge for a former runner-up finish at the conclusion of the 68th USTA Florida “Bobby Curtis” Junior State Singles Championships, held at the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach (18-16s divisions) and at Sanlando Park in Altamonte Springs (14-12s divisions). Unseeded Jason Legall of Palm Coast upended No. 8 seed Aleksandar Kovacevic of Boca Raton 6-4, 6-3 for the Boys’ 18s title, his first “Bobby Curtis” state singles championship win. “I’ve been playing the Bobby Curtis state singles for coming on 4-5 years, and this year I haven’t been playing a lot of USTA tournaments so I came in unseeded,” Legall said. “I obviously wasn’t expecting to come out in first place.”

An artist rendering of the new USTA Florida headquarters in the Lake Nona region of Orlando

An artist rendering of the new USTA Florida headquarters in the Lake Nona region of Orlando

USTA Florida broke ground on a new headquarters and a new era for the association in the Lake Nona Sports & Performance District of Orlando, adjacent to the $100 million USTA National Campus currently under construction. The event (live-streamed by USTA Florida) was a joint groundbreaking effort with the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA), which is also relocating its headquarters and will be a neighbor to USTA Florida. Also on hand were executives from Tavistock Development Company, developer of Lake Nona and the Sports & Performance District, and the USTA national body.

USONP-mens-singles-2016Florida State University rising junior Terrance Whitehurst won the men’s singles title, the only home-state winner at the 2016 US Open National Playoffs-Florida Section tournament. The champions advanced to the national tournament, where the winners in men’s and women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles, and mixed doubles earned spots in either the main draw or qualifying for the 2016 US Open.

When 25 blind children of all ages unload from a bus for their first tennis experience, sometimes the best-laid plans go out the door. “So here we are, our first day, it’s about 95 degrees, not a single cloud in the sky, two buses pull up, and pandemonium ensued,” said Channon Champ, organizer of the Tennis for The Blind and Visually Impaired Youth program, founded last year in Naples, Fla. “The lesson plan was thrown out the window.” Initially played on full-size courts and nets, the Naples group worked with the USTA Florida Section Foundation, the official giving arm of the USTA Florida Section, to obtain permanent kids-sized nets and adaptive racquets for campers.

Featured_Jeanne EarpWinter Garden’s Jeanne Earp has been a Junior Team Tennis superstar in the Orlando area for the last six years and 11 seasons, driving (sometimes literally) players to local and regional championships, but more importantly recruiting youngsters into the “sport of a lifetime” on age-appropriate courts with age-appropriate equipment. She was named the June 2016 Florida Tennis Volunteer of the Month for her expert hand in leading the Orlando area in growing youth tennis at the grassroots level.


JULY

The Henry L. McMullen Tennis Complex in Clearwater, Fla., was one of 12 winners in the 35th annual USTA Facility Awards program, which recognizes excellence in the construction and/or renovation of tennis facilities throughout the country. The center’s diverse programming includes Pinellas County Special Olympic training, a Girl Scout Patch program, Lighthouse internships for the visually impaired, and Silver Sneaker/Masters Tennis programs for senior players. The site is also a USTA Junior Team Tennis North Pinellas hub for all match play and hosts many USTA adult league teams, charity events and fundraiser socials.

The City of North Miami and the Temple Terrace Tennis Center (outside Tampa) were Florida organizations that each received $10,000 this week from the national USTA Facility Assistance Program. The grants were used to resurface existing tennis courts and for facility upgrades.


Attend any of Judy Moore’s Tennis for Fun clinics and don’t expect to get a handshake for a greeting. Instead, expect a hug. At least, that’s how the program’s athletes greet one another. “Hugs when everybody comes, and hugs when everybody leaves,” Moore says. Moore is the director of Tennis for Fun, a program supported by the USTA Florida Section Foundation that teaches tennis to the special-needs community. Her son Nathan, a tennis player, started the program in 2000.

State champions were crowned when teams from Miami (Coral Reef Park, Royal Palm) won two titles, and teams from St. Johns County (Julington Creek Plantation, St. Johns) and Marion County (Ft. King Tennis Center, Ocala) won one each at the 2016 USTA Florida 40 & Over 3.0/4.0 League Sectional Championships, held at the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach. Two 18 & Over Open Division tennis teams also advanced to represent the USTA Florida Section in Las Vegas after winning the “Road to Las Vegas” USTA Florida League Sectional Championships.

Orange/Seminole counties (Azalea Tennis Center, Winter Park; and Ft. Gatlin Tennis Center, Orlando) captured two of the four USTA Florida League sectional titles over the weekend at the 2016 USTA Florida 40 & Over 3.5/4.5+ League Sectional Championships, held at the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach and Sanlando Park in Altamonte Springs. Additional champions were Sarasota County (Longwood Run, Sarasota) in the Men’s 4.5+ division, and Clay County (Eagle Landing Country Club, Orange Park) in the Women’s 3.5 division.

A great many junior champions, everyday school tennis players, Junior Team Tennis and eventual adult USTA League players have come out of the Tampa Bay area over the last 25 years — in no small part due to the dedication of Susan Winship, a career volunteer in and outside of the realm of school tennis. She was named the July Florida Tennis Volunteer of the Month for her dedication to growing school tennis and serving all tennis lovers, youth and adult, by spreading the love of the game in the Tampa area.

 

AUGUST


Team USA dominated much of the doubles action at the Rio Olympics, coming away with two gold medals and one silver medal in men’s and mixed doubles. The all-American mixed doubles final saw Jack Sock and Bethanie Mattek-Sands defeat Rajeev Ram and Florida’s Venus Williams 7-6, 1-6, 10-7. Rio was an ordeal for Florida’s Venus Williams, who entered the Olympics with an illness, lost first round in singles and women’s doubles, but fought through to the mixed final to collect silver and a record fifth overall Olympics medal.

Clay County (Fleming Island, Orange Park teams) won two titles, and Miami-Dade County (Doral) captured a third division title in a row at the 2016 USTA Florida 18 & Over 3.0/4.0/5.0+ League Sectional Championships, held at the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach and Sanlando Park in Altamonte Springs.

The Orlando area (Sanlando Park, Winter Park) won two titles, and Duval County (Jacksonville Golf & Country Club), Broward County (Midtown Athletic Club, Weston), and Miami-Dade County-South (Salvadore Park, Coral Gables) were also winners at the USTA Florida 18 & Over League 2.5/3.5/4.5 Sectional Championships, held at the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach, and at Sanlando Park in Altamonte Springs.

From left: Life skills teacher Diane Rose, Wiltchenie Cadet, and foundation director of tennis Don Cleveland


Wiltchenie Cadet
, a 10 year old student from Lake Worth, Fla., who participates in the after-school program at the Delray Beach Youth Tennis Foundation, was named one of 10 national winners of the 2016 NJTL Arthur Ashe Essay Contest. “We are so excited about Wiltchenie winning the Arthur Ashe Essay Contest,” said Diane Rose, life skills teacher for the Delray Youth Tennis Foundation. “It means we are really making a difference in the lives of these kids, and we can see how they are growing and how the character is developing.” Each of the 10 winners received a New York City travel package to Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day at the US Open.

Orlando’s Damon Ponzie knows the public courts scene as a junior player from the Caribbean, and is well acquainted with private tennis club scene as director of tennis at the Golden Bear Club where he teaches, part of his Keene’s Point Tennis umbrella of clubs in Windermere, Fla., in suburban Orlando. His mission these days? Make public and private play in the Orlando area indiscernible to youth tennis — as in getting all kids playing Junior Team Tennis together all the time, at all locations across the city. He was named the August Florida Tennis Volunteer of the Month.

 


SEPTEMBER

From left: Billie Jean King with the GACTA’s Anne Koterba and Addison Staples

The Gainesville Area Community Tennis Association (GACTA) was honored with the USTA national body’s NJTL (National Junior Tennis & Learning network) Chapter of the Year Award during the US Open. GACTA was honored at the USTA Semi-Annual Meeting, held Sept. 3-6 in New York City. GACTA provides community tennis events to the greater Gainesville area to promote their mission, and to assist other organizations/partners and their mission to better the Gainesville community. GACTA’s largest program is the Aces in Motion (AIM) tennis outreach, which is part of the USTA Foundation’s NJTL network. The program focuses on under-served youth in the community, including those living in low-income neighborhoods and those with disabilities.

Anna Bright of Boca Raton

The Girls’ 18s winners collected fourth and fifth career “Bobby Doubles” titles, and the Cacciatore twins from Gainesville won a second consecutive championship when the 68th USTA Florida “Bobby Curtis” Junior State Doubles Championships decided winners in four age divisions. No. 2 seeds Anna Bright (Boca Raton)/Sophia Edwards (Nokomis) collected the Girls’ 18s crown, in the final defeating No. 3 seeds Kacey Moore (Wellington)/Melissa Sakar (Lauderdale Lakes) 6-3, 6-4. Only a high school freshman, it was the fifth state doubles championship for Edwards, who previously brought home “Bobby Doubles” title in the Girls’ 14s (2014), Mixed 14s (2013), Mixed 12s (2013), and Mixed 10s (2010) divisions.

USTA Florida kicked off its celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month with Spanish-language communications, profiles of players and coaches, and an event in Orlando for the re-launch of one partner facility of the Hispanic Outreach initiative “Tenis para Todos” (Tennis for Everyone). The Tenis Para Todos Family Festival celebrated the re-launch of the Fort Gatlin Recreation Center in Orlando as a partner facility of the Hispanic Outreach Initiative.

American teams won three of the eight titles at the 36th International Tennis Federation (ITF) Super-Seniors World Team Championships in Umag, Croatia. Florida’s Donna Fales (Coral Gables) was on the U.S. Queen’s Cup team (Women’s 75 & Over) that beat France 3-0 in the final, and Gordon Hames (Naples) and King Von Nostrand (Vero Beach) were on the U.S. Gardnar Mulloy Cup team (Men’s 80 & Over) that defeated Australia 2-1 in the final. The U.S. Doris Hart Cup (Women’s 80 & Over) was also victorious, defeating Great Britain 2-1 in the final.

A competitive tennis player who started at a young age, Steven Masciale always envisioned himself playing Division I college tennis. Injuries around the ages of 14-16, however, allowed him to play high school tennis but sidelined any NCAA tennis chances. Attending the University of Miami, Masciale did not know a lot about the USTA “Tennis on Campus” club program, which allows students to practice and socialize within their school’s tennis club while also competing against other schools in their USTA section. “Admittedly, I was skeptical about it at first,” said Masciale, who named the September Tennis Volunteer of the Month.


OCTOBER

Miami Beach’s Yubel Ubri and Pensacola’s Gabriella Goyins won the boys’ and girls’ Florida state 10-and-under singles titles at the 2016 USTA Florida “Bobby Curtis” 10 & Under Green Ball Sectional Championships at the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach.

Broward County (Midtown Athletic Club, Weston) and Pinellas County (St. Pete Tennis Center) were champions at the 2016 USTA Florida Mixed 18 & Over 7.0/9.0 League Sectional Championships at the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach. Broward County (Midtown Athletic Club, Weston) and Volusia County (Deland Tennis Club) were winners  at the USTA Florida Mixed 18 & Over 6.0/8.0 League Sectional Championships at the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach.


King van Nostrand of Vero Beach, Fla., won the Men’s 80 singles, and teamed with Australian Peter Froelich to win their fifth world title as a team in doubles at the ITF Super-Seniors World Individual Championships in Umag, Croatia. The 82-year-old Van Nostrand the next day was awarded the Men’s 80s singles title when Froelich was unable to play the final due to injury. The week prior, Van Nostrand and Gordon Hames (Naples) were part of the American team that led the U.S. Gardnar Mulloy Cup team (Men’s 80 & Over) that defeated Australia 2-1 in the championship final.


The University of Florida USTA “Tennis On Campus” club team climbed back on top when the Gators upset defending national champion Auburn University to win its third national Tennis on Campus Fall Invitational in the past four years. UF beat Auburn 25-21 in the seventh annual event which took place at the Palmetto Dunes Tennis Center on Hilton Head Island.

Gainesville over the years has produced some of the most competitive Junior Team Tennis squads in the state. That is no coincidence, says local organizer Robert Taylor, in a city where tennis organizers have embraced the USTA’s Youth Progression Pathway to get more kids in the game. He was named the October Tennis Volunteer of the Month.


NOVEMBER


The USTA Florida Section awarded its outstanding volunteers and achievers when the USTA Florida Annual Awards were presented at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress in Orlando, Fla. “It is amazing hearing about all the outstanding achievements of these tennis volunteers and the impact they make in their communities,” said USTA Florida Executive Director Doug Booth. “It is really moving hearing the differences they are making in people’s lives.”

Florida Tennis legend Gardnar Mulloy, “The Silver Fox,” died at the age of 102. The renowned competitor was one of the top U.S. pros in the pre-Open Era (before 1968) of professional tennis, during his career contesting 12 Davis Cup ties over seven years, and winning the international team title three times for the U.S. in 1946 and ’48-49. “Gardnar will always be special to USTA Florida as one of the four founding fathers of our association, along with Edward Turville, Eddie Herr, and Clarence Varner,” said USTA Florida Executive Director Doug Booth.

November saw a historic change for the Florida Section of the United States Tennis Association when the not-for-profit volunteer organization eliminated its executive committee and streamlined its board of directors to form one sole governing body to set the policies and direction of the association moving forward. “As the executive director of USTA Florida, one of the things I am most proud of with our association is the volunteer leadership being open to adapting to the changing world we live in,” USTA Florida Executive Director Doug Booth said. 

The USTA League national champions from Julington Creek, St. Johns

Sectionals-winning USTA Florida League teams had a banner fall at USTA League National Championships across the country in Sept.-Nov. as 14 teams finished in 1st-4th place in their respective championships. Three Florida teams (all 40 & Over League) finished in 1st place as national champions, three teams finished 2nd as national runners-up, four teams finished in third place, and four teams in fourth. “When they gave us our trophies, they told us, ‘You’ve done something not a lot of people have. You can call yourself national champions,’” said Michele Jordan, captain of the Julington Creek women’s 40 & Over 3.0 national championship team. “It’s a pretty good feeling.”

For 30 years he has been an integral part of Florida recreational tennis, both in his home community of Miami and at the state level. Bruce Boiko’s list of his awards, committee involvement and achievements would not fit on a volunteer award plaque. He was named the Florida November Tennis Volunteer of the Month.


DECEMBER


Approximately $29,000 in grants across Florida in November were awarded to police athletic leagues, schools, junior programs, after-school programs, tennis centers and tennis associations from the USTA Florida Section Foundation, the official giving arm of the United States Tennis Association-Florida Section (USTA Florida), in their monthly effort to seed grassroots tennis in communities. Recipients of grants were organizations or programs in Belleview, Clearwater Beach, Fort Pierce, Gainesville, North Miami Beach, Sarasota, St. Petersburg and Vero Beach.

Hillsborough County claimed two titles and Collier County was a repeat champion at the 2016 USTA Florida Combo 50 & Over League Sectional Championships, held at the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach. Florida state title winners were Collier County (Greater Marco Family YMCA, Marco Island) in the Women’s 6.5 division, Escambia County (independent) in the Men’s 6.5 division, Manatee County (Lakewood Ranch Athletic Center) in the Women’s 7.5 division, Brevard County (Fee Avenue Tennis, Melbourne) in the Men’s 8.5 division, and Hillsborough County in the both the Men’s 7.5 (Buckhorn Springs C.C., Valrico) and Women’s 8.5 (Hillsborough Community College Tennis Complex, Tampa) divisions. Collier County won for a second straight time in the Women’s 6.5 division, while Brevard County in the Men’s 8.5 division stopped Hillsborough County from winning a third straight division title.

A Grand Prize winner will experience the US Open for the first time, and second and third prize winners were also announced by the USTA Florida Section Foundation. The winners were drawn from donors to the annual USTA Florida Section Foundation’s US Open Tennis Experience Fundraiser. Marc Rosenthal of Lakewood Ranch won the Grand Prize, which in 2017 includes two tickets to the USTA President’s Box, round trip domestic airfare for two to New York and two nights hotel accommodation, complimentary US Open Bus transportation to USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, lunch in the President’s Dining Room, hospitality in the President’s Suite, and access to courtside seating in Louis Armstrong Stadium as well as Grandstand and all other courts.

The collegiate center at the USTA National Campus

Next spring look for the grand opening of the new USTA Florida headquarters building in the Lake Nona region of Orlando next to the USTA National Campus, and in the coming months follow tennis’ momentum at the Lake Nona Sports & Performance District.


GET TENNIS OFF ON THE RIGHT FOOT IN 2017

* Join a local USTA League team
* Nominate a deserving tennis volunteer as a possible future Volunteer of the Month
* Apply for USTA Florida grants or USTA national grants to bolster tennis in your area
* Find a tennis event in your area (or post your event) with the Florida event calendar
* Captain a Junior Team Tennis team in your area
* Get out and play tennis!

USTA Florida wishes you more tennis, happy holidays, and a rewarding and healthy 2017!

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