December 13th, 2017
Florida Tennis: 2017 Year in Review, Highlights
Florida tennis had arguably one of its best years in 2017. Or at least it’s busiest.
A Florida player finished as the No. 1 junior in the world, while USTA Florida League teams won their most national championships ever. Another Florida junior won the US Open juniors, Florida-raised Sloane Stephens won the US Open, and a potential future champion was born. Her mother is Florida’s Serena Williams.
USTA Florida increased staff to support recreational tennis in Florida while moving to a new headquarters next to the USTA National Campus, which opened in the Lake Nona region of Orlando in January. The Florida section also announced a new Tennis Management Division to assist struggling facilities and municipalities.
Bobby Curtis, the famed junior organizer whose name adorns the Florida junior state championships turned 90 with a celebration, and Broward County celebrated their USTA League dominance with a second consecutive USTA Florida League Championship Cup win.
Here’s a look at some of the monthly highlights from 2017:
Former stars Chris Evert, Jim Courier and James Blake were among the players and dignitaries in attendance when the USTA national body hosted a ceremonial “First Serve” to christen the new USTA National Campus in Orlando. The new 100-court “Home of American Tennis” hit the ground running with a number of events during the first week, including USTA Florida Sectional Championships. More than 100 international, national and local events and tournaments were scheduled at the facility, part of the Lake Nona Sports & Performance District, and also serving as the epicenter for tennis innovation, allowing opportunities for the testing of new and emerging technologies.
Twelve-year-old Cori Gauff of Delray Beach and 14-year-old Toby Kodat of Bradenton made history for American junior tennis at the prestigious Nike Junior International Teen Tennis tournament in Bolton, England, each winning the girls’ and boys’ singles titles over American opponents. It was the first time in the 23-year history of the 14-and-under event — which counts Andy Murray, Kim Clijsters, Justine Henin and Caroline Wozniacki among its previous finalists — that all four singles finalists were from the same country.
Broward County received the inaugural USTA Florida League Championship Cup, edging Pinellas County by one USTA Florida League Sectionals title. The following month they embarked on their #USTAFLLeagues Tour, where each of the six teams had possession of the Cup for one week of photo ops, selfies and general bragging rights. “We love this USTA Florida League Championship Cup event, this is something that really motivates the clubs and the captains and the players,” said player Ismael Rosales said.
Jacqueline Johnson has developed into a Jill-of-all-trades in nurturing and growing junior tennis in the Greater Daytona Beach area. Responsible for 10 and Under Tennis, youth, and tournament programming at the Nova Community Center in Ormond Beach, “Coach J.J.” has over the last two years expanded her repertoire to providing tennis in local public and private elementary schools, and in after-school programs. She was named the January Florida Tennis Volunteer of Month for her countless hours and weekends providing team tennis experiences for Daytona Beach-area youth, both in and out of school.
City funding, a former coach of Serena and Venus Williams, and fervent USTA 10 and Under Tennis program enthusiasts came together to turn an abandoned skateboard park into permanent 36-foot kid-sized tennis courts in Margate, Fla. Located just northwest of Ft. Lauderdale, the courts in the City of Margate at Firefighters Park are the only permanent 36-foot kids courts in Broward County. “We noticed the skateboard rink at Firefighters Park and requested the permit to convert it,” said Csilla Constandache, owner at GSM Tennis Experience, which runs 10-and-under and age 11-17 junior programs. “The courts are specially designated for the 8-under ‘red ball’ tennis players in our program.”
USTA Florida Tri-Level League teams from Fleming Island and Winter Park 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 18 & Over Playoffs at the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach. It was the third consecutive season that both Clay and Orange counties won the Florida Sectional event and advanced teams to the national championships. Tri-Level League is a doubles format designed to provide a unique team league opportunity to members by combining players of differing NTRP levels (3.5/4.0/4.5) on teams in local and sectional competition.
The “Dempsey twins” attend different Florida colleges, have pursued different majors, even pledged different sororities — but that hasn’t stopped them from this school year achieving a twin feat — each rising to president of their respective school tennis clubs. Erica at Florida State University, and Laura at Florida Gulf Coast University each preside over their respective clubs that compete at the USTA Florida “Tennis on Campus” series of tournaments throughout the school year.
The University of Central Florida upset the four-time defending champion University of Florida 30-14 to capture the USTA Florida “Tennis on Campus” Section Championships at Sanlando Park in Altamonte Springs, Fla. It was UCF’s third season-ending championship victory after wins in 2012 and 2006. Year-end awards went to the University of Florida as Club of the Year and Campus Series Champions with a season-leading six tournament titles, and Samad Loya of USF was awarded Club Leader of the Year. UF and UCF combined to win all nine titles on the 2016-17 Tennis on Campus calendar.
When you take to the tennis court, “Hit the ball like you mean it and be happy you’re out there, because there are thousands of people who can’t, or won’t be.” That’s the mantra of Bob Long of Coconut Creek, a Masters Tennis ambassador since 2015, who promotes the USTA Florida-endorsed short-court game. Played with the lower-compression “orange ball” for those learning the game, seniors with movement issues, or players returning from injury, Masters Tennis offers a mini-version of the full-court game. He was named the Florida Tennis February Volunteer of the Month for getting beginning and former players back on the court, and embodying the spirit of volunteering in his community.
USTA Florida and XGLOsive LLC teamed up in March to bring Ten15, a new social style of tournament, to Florida. Four unique Ten15 events were hosted in April as part of a month-long pilot series. Two events were played on XGLOsive black-light courts, and two were played during the day. All four events benefited the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. “Tennis events have long been used to raise money for charitable causes,” said Laura Bowen, director of marketing for USTA Florida. “What makes Ten15 special is that we are supporting a cause and making tennis more accessible and fun.”
In March the No. 1-ranked University of Florida women saw their 163-match home winning streak come to an end when they were upset 4-1 by the No. 6-ranked Georgia Bulldogs at the Alfred A. Ring Tennis Center in Gainesville, Fla. “I bet there were people in Gainesville who never thought today would happen, but it did,” said Florida Head Coach Roland Thornqvist. It was the longest active streak of any NCAA Division I team in any sport, of any gender, in the country.
The BNP Paribas Showdown celebrated World Tennis Day from Madison Square Garden in New York City on March 6. The 10th anniversary of the event featured an all-star line-up of Andy Roddick, Jack Sock, Lleyton Hewitt, Nick Kyrgios, Venus Williams, Juan Martin del Potro, Garbine Muguruza, and Kei Nishikori.
A “Celebration of Life” was held for USTA Florida Hall of Fame member, former U.S. Davis Cup competitor, and multiple Grand Slam title winner Gardnar Mulloy, who died in November 2016 at the age of 102. “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.
“An otherwise happily married couple,” Rod Laver once said, “may turn a mixed doubles game into a scene from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.” Florida player Sylvie Roy would politely disagree. A passionate player and organizer, Roy has boosted USTA League play, especially mixed doubles, over the last eight years in the Tampa area. She was named the March Florida Volunteer of the Month.
Tennis was front and center at Florida Sports Day at the Capitol Courtyard in Tallahassee, where USTA Florida volunteers and staff shared how the USTA Florida Section Foundation supports grassroots tennis throughout the state. “Many sports were represented, so tennis being one of them was the right call,” said USTA Florida Section Foundation President Celia Rehm. “Particularly in view of H.B. 1375.” The current “Play Tennis!” license plate, which supports grassroots tennis funding in Florida, could be affected by House Bill 1375. The bill became effective on Oct. 1, 2017, and requires at least 4,000 vehicles in Florida for a specialty plate to stay active in 2018. “Tennis may have received the most exposure,” Rehm said. “The mascots loved our tennis racquets and balls and spent a lot of time at our booth. We were able to show where the revenue from the sale of the plate goes by tying in the community grants to the youth tennis equipment.”
The University of Florida and the University of Central Florida posted Top 10 finishes, while the University of Miami won the Silver Bracket among the Top 64 co-ed club tennis teams in the country at the USTA Tennis on Campus National Championships, held at the USTA National Campus in Orlando. UF and UCF came out on top among the 16 pool groups, earning a spot in the coveted Gold Bracket.
Five men’s and women’s divisions saw five different winners at the USTA Florida Adult 65 & Over League Sectional Championships, held at the USTA National Campus in Orlando. Division winners were Hillsborough County (Buckhorn Springs Tennis and Swim Club, Valrico) in the men’s 8.0, Collier County (Hunters Ridge Tennis, Bonita Springs) in the women’s 8.0, Marion County (The Villages) in the men’s 7.0, Martin County (North River Shores, Stuart) in the women’s 7.0, and Duval County (Southside Tennis Complex, Jacksonville) in the women’s 6.0. The 7.0 women from Stuart were repeat sectional champions from last season, while the 7.0 men from The Villages broke a three-year stranglehold by Lee County on the division title, defeating Lee in the final. The Duval County win in the women’s 6.0 division was their fifth sectionals title over the last six seasons.
Kids and parents at local tennis events in Clearwater, Fla., find Emilio Gonzalez a kind and unassuming volunteer — little knowing they’re being assisted by one of the most accomplished school coaches in Florida history. He was named the April Tennis Volunteer of the Month for giving to the Miami and Clearwater tennis communities.
Teams from Broward County (Quigley Park, Parkland), Clay County (Eagle Harbor Country Club, Fleming Island), Collier County (Pelican Bay Community Park, Naples), and Orange County (Azalea Lanes, Winter Park) advanced to represent the USTA Florida Section at USTA League Nationals after claiming state titles at the 2017 USTA Florida Adult 55 & Over 3.5/4.5 League Sectional Championships, held at the USTA National Campus in Orlando.
Rollie Shea served the United States in Korea and Vietnam, and in a second life served Florida tennis and the USTA Florida Section as an outstanding volunteer and nationally-recognized official. The former USTA Florida president (1992-93), Junior Tennis Foundation president, and USTA Florida Hall of Fame member (inducted 2004) died peacefully at his home on May 10, 2017 at age 88. “It is so sad to lose one of our past presidents and members of our Florida Tennis Hall of Fame who truly loved the game,” said USTA Florida Executive Director Doug Booth. “Rollie’s passion for officiating was his true love and his impact in that area during his life is immeasurable.”
The East team took back the Florida Cup in the 14th edition of the annual contest, defeating the West team 29-21 in men’s age 35-80 division singles and doubles play. Held at the PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, the East won for only the fourth time in the history of the South Florida competition. “The 2017 Florida Cup set a few records with the largest winning roster of 34 players for the East, 50 matches taking the court, and 24 first-time participants on both rosters,” said Tournament Director Mark Taylor. “There were no defaulted matches for the first time in Cup history. Overall, 59 players participated in the annual Davis Cup-style team event.”
Duval County (Deercreek and Southside in Jacksonville) won two championships, while Broward County (Tennis Center at Quigley Park, Parkland) and Marion County (The Tennis Club at Golden Ocala) also collected state titles at the USTA Florida 55 & Over 3.0/4.0 League Sectional Championships, held at the USTA National Campus in Orlando. The Marion County 3.0 men advanced to nationals for the third time in the last four years, and the Duval County women successfully defended their title from last year in the 4.0 division.
Behind the scenes, tennis volunteer Rick Workman has been a key architect in contributing to the development of junior tennis and the new junior development pathway in Florida over the past 10 years. On the frontlines, the Ormond Beach resident has directed some of the top junior and adult events in the state, and has lent his expertise to top-level events such as the USTA Florida’s “Bobby Curtis” state singles and doubles championships. In the junior tennis realm in Florida he also volunteers on the Junior Sanction Committee, for the singles and doubles state championships, on the Florida Junior Competition Council, and the Florida Junior Pathway Committee. He was named the Florida May Volunteer of the Month.
USTA Florida’s Board of Directors approved the creation of a new Tennis Management Division, aimed at helping improve public tennis facilities across the state. The division focuses on working with municipalities that are struggling to maintain quality public tennis facilities and programs. The new division operates out of USTA Florida’s new headquarters adjacent to the USTA National Campus in Orlando. “This year alone we have received calls from several cities across the state that have asked us if we could help with the management of their public tennis centers,” said Robert Hollis, president of USTA Florida. “After seeing many of those facilities struggle and face possible closure, we felt it was critical to our mission that we put the pieces in place to help improve these facilities.”
“Let me win, but if I can not win, let me be brave in the attempt.” Athletes reciting the Special Olympics oath kicked off the 45th Special Olympic Florida State Summer Games at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, where USTA Florida staff and volunteers assisted the approximately 150 Special Olympics athletes participating in the tennis event. Athletes participated in a skills event and varied levels of red, orange, green, and yellow-ball match play.
USTA Florida and the USPTA Florida Division fortified their ongoing partnership, inking a new agreement aimed at encouraging USPTA members to deliver more USTA programs and provide grants aimed at helping tennis professionals expand their offerings across the state of Florida. The elected presidents of each organization signed the new agreement at the joint meetings of their respective board of directors, marking the occasion with a hat exchange.
Two back-to-back champions highlighted the final day at the 69th USTA Florida “Bobby Curtis” Junior State Singles Championships, where winners raised trophies in the boys’ and girls’ 18-16 divisions at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, and the 14-12 divisions at Sanlando Park in Altamonte Springs. Both 18s finals were grinders going the distance in hot and humid conditions as top-seeded Alana Wolfberg of Orlando outlasted No. 9 seed Ysabel Gonzalez Rico of Miami 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-2, and No. 3 seed Michael Heller of Boca Raton upset top-seeded Evan Bynoe of Parkland 7-6(1), 1-6, 6-3. For Wolfberg it was a second straight Bobby Curtis title after claiming the Girls’ 16s last year.
Pinellas County put its collective foot down in June in USTA Florida recreational league tennis play. It won a fourth consecutive USTA Florida League Sectionals title in the 9.0 division, and Leon County won its first title of the year at the USTA Florida Mixed 40 & Over League 7.0/9.0 Sectional Championships at the USTA National Campus in Orlando. At the 6.0/8.0 sectionals, Pinellas County (St. Pete Tennis Center, St. Petersburg) successfully defending its 8.0 division title from last year, and Volusia County (Florida Tennis Center, Daytona Beach) was the 6.0 division winner at the USTA National Campus in Orlando.
If you’ve spent your life grinding out matches on the tennis court without moving up the ladder, or playing years of USTA League tennis without advancing to nationals (or even sectionals), you may want to stop reading the story of USTA League captain extraordinaire Alan MacMurray. Or see if you can join one of his teams. He was named the June Tennis Volunteer of the Month.
Miami juniors proved themselves the kings and queens of Junior Team Tennis in the state of Florida for 2017 as the co-ed Miami Tornados and Miami Thunder were the 14-under and 18-under champions at the 2017 USTA Florida Junior Team Tennis Sectional Championships, advancing to represent Florida at the USTA Junior Team Tennis National Championships.
Miami-Dade South teams won one title in three final appearances at the USTA Florida 40 & Over 3.5/4.5+ League Sectional Championships, held at the USTA National Campus in Orlando. Division winners were Miami-Dade South (Next Level Tennis Kendalltown, Miami), Orange County (Orlando Tennis Center), Hillsborough County (Harbour Island Athletic Club, Tampa), and Broward County (Weston Tennis Center). At the at the 2017 USTA Florida 40 & Over 3.0/4.0 League Sectional Championships, Broward County (Dillon Tennis Center, Oakland Park; and Quigley Park, Parkland) captured two titles, while Leon County (Tom Brown Park, Tallahassee) and Miami-Dade South (Alper Jewish Community Center, Miami) were also crowned Florida state champions.
Five Florida juniors won USTA Gold Balls in singles and doubles, and three players were Silver Ball runners-up during the USTA National Clay Court Championships, held across the U.S. in boys’ and girls’ 18-12 divisions. Florida players swept the singles and doubles at the USTA Boys’ 18s National Clay Court Championships in Delray Beach.
Rural locations are a challenge for organizing league tennis, and perhaps no Florida location is more challenging than the expansive Florida Keys. If that’s the case, then no league organizer has been more challenged than Nicole Berger — especially earlier this year, organizing tennis leagues from a hospital bed some 1,700 miles from her home on Big Coppitt, 10 miles outside of Key West. She was named the July Tennis Volunteer of the Month.
Ava Krug of Lakewood Ranch and Nokomis’ Sophia Edwards took home coveted USTA Gold Balls, and eight other Florida players finished 2nd-4th at the USTA National Doubles Championships, a Level 1 USTA tournament at the USTA National Campus in Orlando. And while While CoCo Vandeweghe was climbing up the WTA tour rankings, another CoCo was making her mark on the world junior stage. Thirteen-year old Cori “CoCo” Gauff of Delray Beach, Fla., led the United States to its record seventh 14-and-under ITF World Junior Tennis girls’ championship, recording singles and doubles victories to defeat defending champions Ukraine 2-1 in the final in Prostejov, Czech Republic. The U.S. team of Gauff, Gabriella Price (14, Boca Raton, Fla.) and Charlotte Owensby (14, Boca Raton, Fla.) went undefeated in six matches. Florida players also won five titles with three runner-up efforts, led by Boca Raton’s Angelica Blake who swept the singles and doubles in the girls’ 16s at the USTA National Jr. Hard Court Championships, held in the 18s-12s divisions across the country.
Broward County kept winning, while a handful of other county teams are kept pace after five different counties captured sectional championships at the 2017 USTA Florida 18 & Over 2.5/3.5/4.5 Sectional Championships at the USTA National Campus in Orlando. Winners were Broward County (Midtown Athletic Club, Weston), Duval County (Florida Yacht Club, Jacksonville), Miami-Dade South (Doral Park, Doral), Orange County (Ft. Gatlin Rec. Complex, Orlando), and Seminole County (Sanlando Park, Altamonte Springs) which won its first sectional title of the season. At the USTA Florida 18 & Over 3.0/4.0/5.0+ League Sectional Championships, Hillsborough County (City of Plant City Rec. & Parks Dept., and Fishhawk Ranch in Lithia) won two titles after reaching four finals, while Broward County (Dillon Tennis Center, Oakland Park), Orange County (Azelea Park, Winter Park), Duval County (Florida Yacht Club, Jacksonville), and Miami-Dade North (Arthur Snyder Tennis Center, North Miami Beach) also took home state tennis championships
Just when you think you’ve gotten out, it reels you back in. But Cindy Harkins does not mind when it comes to tennis volunteering. Her “retirement” years seem fuller than when she worked full-time in the tennis and public parks industries in the Orlando area. She was named the August Tennis Volunteer of the Month.
In his article Building the New, USTA Florida President Robert Hollis discusses the organization moving forward. “I’m proud that we have staff and volunteers who are not afraid to fail. It’s probably the main reason I’ve been involved in the organization as long as I have. If you have been involved in our organization during the last 5-10 years, you have seen how much our organization has changed and worked with communities to bring forward new approaches to getting more youth in the game at the beginner level.”
USTA Florida celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month with Spanish-language communications, and profiles of players and events throughout Central and South Florida. The 30 days celebrated the rich history and influence of the Hispanic culture on Florida tennis and promoted the participation of this growing community in tennis.
The US Open was a U.S. women’s and girls’ spotlight. While Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys were displaying the future of U.S. tennis in the US Open women’s final this weekend, two of the next-wave Americans were doing the same in the all-Florida US Open girls’ final. No. 4-seeded 16-year-old Amanda Anisimova of Hallandale Beach overpowered unseeded 13-year-old Cori “Co Co” Gauff of Delray Beach.
When Joanne Graceman relocated to Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., approximately five years ago, it was not with tennis in mind. But living in the same community as the Williams sisters, Serena and Venus, and receiving world-class instruction from a renowned tennis pro can quickly change your mind. She was named the September Tennis Volunteer of the Month.
The famed Moore Park in Miami hosted a 90th birthday celebration for Bobby Curtis as the City of Miami unveiled a proclamation hailing Curtis, and the park unveiled a plan to rename the clubhouse to honor its former park director. “I’ve seen Bobby take money out of his pocket, that he didn’t really have to give, for a child to have gas money to get back home from a tournament,” USTA Florida Executive Director Doug Booth told the crowd made up of former Curtis tennis students, past and present USTA Florida employees, Moore Park patrons and long-time friends. “And you’ll never hear that story, because Bobby would rather let someone else have it than him have it.”
Reigning US Open champion Sloane Stephens is a former participant at the USTA Florida Diversity Camp, which held sessions in October at the USTA National Campus in Orlando and at the Three Oaks Tennis Center in Ft. Myers.
Three players doubled-up on titles when Florida state doubles champions were crowned in 12s-18s boys’, girls’ and mixed doubles divisions at the 69th USTA Florida “Bobby Curtis” Junior State Doubles Championships, held at the USTA National Campus in Orlando and Sanlando Park in Altamonte Springs. The Top 32 10-and-under boys and Top 32 girls green-ball tennis players also gathered at Sanlando Park to determine the 2017 USTA Florida “Bobby Curtis” Green Ball Sectional champions in Altamonte Springs.
Three first-time champions for 2017 won USTA Florida League Sectionals titles when Alachua County (Westside Tennis Center, Gainesville), Okaloosa County (Shalimar) and Brevard County (Kiwi Tennis Club, Melbourne) were victorious at the USTA Florida Mixed 18 & Over 6.0/8.0/10.0 League Sectional Championships at the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach. At the USTA Florida Mixed 18 & Over 7.0/9.0 League Sectionals Duval County (Williams YMCA, Jacksonville) won the 7.0 division, and Pinellas County (McMullen Tennis Center, Clearwater) the the 9.0 title.
Florida players were on four of the historic seven teams that won titles over the weekend at the 37th International Tennis Federation (ITF) Super-Seniors World Team Championships, held at the USTA National Campus in Orlando. American teams won seven of the nine divisions, including the U.S. women sweeping every women’s division. At the individual championships five Florida players won a combined nine singles and doubles titles. Coral Gables’ Donna Fales came away with the largest haul, winning the 75-and-over women’s singles, doubles, and mixed doubles.
Tennis and gardening. Two things you don’t often see in the same sentence. But for kids in St. Petersburg, Fla., it’s a natural fit. Throw in cooking too, and you have the experiences of participants at KC’s Kamp for Kids. October Florida Tennis Volunteer of the Month Sally Marshall started the program in 2014, as it has spread to various locations throughout the city.
USTA Florida launched a new era for Florida tennis in November with the announcement of a Tennis Management Division, officially taking over management and operations of its first club, the Racquet Club of Cocoa Beach. “This facility has been very well run throughout it’s history. This was a case where the person running the facility was retiring,” said USTA Florida President Robert Hollis. “The timing was perfect for us to step in and offer the city a way to keep the facility running at a high level and make improvements that would bring more people in, without any cost to this community.”
A record six USTA Florida League teams won USTA League National Championships in 2017, breaking the section record of five titles won in both 2015 and 1986. “USTA Florida is very proud of our teams that participated at the USTA League National Championships this year,” said USTA Florida Director of Leagues Christine Ducey. “We recognize all the hard work and dedication that it takes reach that level in our sport. Congratulations to all who strive for such excellence. Let’s break the record again in 2018!”
Ralph Robinson doesn’t look much different from your average tennis enthusiast, with shorts, a jaunty cap and sunglasses. It’s only when he slides his foot forward to feel where the raised court line is that you realize you’re about to witness something difficult to conceive — blind and visually-impaired players rallying and playing tennis. Art Richards runs his Blind Tennis program out of Rotonda Community Park in Rotonda West, Fla., located just north of Ft. Myers. With grant support over the years from the USTA Florida Section Foundation, the Cultural Guild of the Greater Cape Haze Peninsula, and Charlotte County, Richards work over the last three years has been groundbreaking.
Ocala’s Ft. King Tennis Center out of Marion County was the big winner at the 2017 USTA Florida Combo 50 & Over League Sectional Championships, clinching two titles at the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach. Hillsborough County took over sole possession of third place on the USTA Florida League Championship Cup standings after capturing their fifth sectionals championship of the season. For Martin County it was a second sectionals title of the season after first winning the 65 & Over Women’s 7.0 earlier this year. Escambia and St. Johns counties won their first sectional titles of the season.
Miami’s Marilyn Cheung has been volunteering as a USTA Leagues captain for almost 20 years, applying basic life lessons and a few successful off-court tricks of the trade to her captaining repertoire. “There is no such thing as secret to success,” says Cheung, who has taken her 18 & Over women’s 4.0 team to USTA Florida League Sectionals two years straight. “But factors such as having a positive mental attitude, flexibility, having an open mind, and respecting individuals are components to a good life.” She was named the Florida Volunteer of the Month for November.
Broward County (Frank Veltri Tennis Center, Plantation), Hillsborough County (Hillsborough Community College, Tampa), St. Johns County (Julington Creek Plantation, St. Johns), and Seminole County (Red Bug Lake Park, Casselberry) captured state titles at the USTA Florida Combo 18 & Over 6.5/8.5 League Sectional Championships. The following weekend five divisions produced five different winners as Duval County (Southside Tennis Center, Jacksonville), Leon County (Tom Brown Park, Tallahassee), Pinellas County (Waterchase, Tampa), Polk County (Lake Wales C.C., Lake Wales), and Seminole County (Red Bug Park, Casselberry) won state titles at the USTA Florida Combo 18 & Over 5.5/7.5/9.5 League Sectional Championships, both held at the USTA National Campus in Orlando.
Broward County in December was again crowned the tennis capital of Florida. Five tennis clubs from Broward combined for eight USTA Florida League state titles in 2017, claiming the USTA Florida League Championship Cup for the second time in as many years. The Cup is awarded each year to the team winning the most USTA Florida League Sectionals (state) titles. “We are truly lucky in Broward that so many competitive players, at all levels, choose to play tennis in the area,” says USTA Florida Local League Coordinator for the Broward/North Miami regions Maria Miro. “That and a number of strong clubs and local facilities produce our winning teams.”
Whitney Osuigwe’s talents have left the current world junior No. 1 in a unique position entering 2018. At only 15 years of age she is too young to take to the pro tour full time, held back by the WTA tour’s age restrictions (or the “Jennifer Capriati Rule”). But after a year raising trophies at the French Open juniors, and ending the year by winning the international Eddie Herr and Orange Bowl junior championships back-to-back and claiming the world No. 1 junior ranking, she has little left to play for on the junior circuit in 2018.
Like any competitive sport, tempers sometime flair in the realm of USTA League tennis, where recreational tennis and highly-competitive play meet in the middle — sometimes not amicably. USTA League captain Armando Cabane of Doral, in the ultra-highly-competitive region of Miami-Dade County, has been a peacemaker in the Miami area for the past 17 years of captaining USTA League teams. He was named the December Florida Tennis Volunteer of the Month.
Those are just some of the highlights. To review more stories and results, click on the categories below:
GET TENNIS OFF ON THE RIGHT FOOT IN 2018
* 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!