May 25th, 2016

Panhandle Tennis Blog: Local Tournament News, School Results, More

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Pensacola’s Ephron Doubles Finalist at Greek Futures

Savi (far left) and Ephron

Savi (far left) and Ephron

While Pensacola’s Chris Ephron awaits entry to Northwestern University on a tennis scholarship this fall, he has been training and playing various ITF Futures qualifying and occasionally the main draw of the doubles.

Ephron’s partner in all this work is former University of West Florida All-American Bruno Savi. Savi’s both a playing partner and traveling coach. In the month of April, the duo played in several tournaments in Crete, Greece.

In the pair’s last tournament on April 7-12, 2016 at the 8th Hellenic Zeus ITF Pro Circuit $10,000 Futures Championships, they lost in the finals to #2 seeds Konstantinos Economidis and Stefanos Tsitsipas (Greece) 7-6(5), 6-7(6), 13-11. In that third-set tiebreaker, Ephron and Savi led 5-2 and had match points with the Greek pair serving at 8-9 and 9-10.

That was a great effort by the locals and the whole trip a terrific tennis experience for Chris Ephron.

Lands Mobile University Tennis Scholarship

Joel Boles

Joel Boles

Gulf Breeze High School senior tennis player, Joel Boles, has received a scholarship to play tennis for Mobile University in Mobile, Ala.

This writer has watched JB grow from an awkward 12-and-under player to a tough, aggressive singles and doubles player for the Dolphins.

He has also become a team leader and will be missed next year.

All local tennis fans wish to extend special congratulations to JB for his commitment to Mobile University and his leadership at Gulf Breeze High School.

Dawson, Sullivan Named Pensacola Sports Tennis Senior Scholars

Sullivan and Dawson

Sullivan and Dawson

Each year Pensacola Sports brings together the top senior student-athletes in each sport from Escambia and Santa Rosa counties schools for a dinner and scholarship recognition program. The 37th Annual Pensacola Sports Senior Scholar-Athlete Awards Banquet was held at Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola on May 10, 2016.

Attendance at the banquet included 213 seniors among the more than 750 total people.

The schools nominate their senior athletes for each sport and submit the paperwork to Pensacola Sports.  A selection committee made of educators, community leaders, and Pensacola Sports board members reviewed the anonymous applications and selected the best person’s credentials for each sport. Those are the individual sport winners. Then they select the overall male and female winners from the individual sport winners.

For our sport, tennis, this year’s senior winners were Emily Dawson from Pensacola Washington High and Danny Sullivan from Pensacola Catholic High.

The overall winners, Tori Bindi from Gulf Breeze and Nathan Andreo from Pace, received $4,000 scholarships to the school of their choice. The individual sports winners received $1,500 to Pensacola State College should they chose to go there.

Sullivan and Leveque Runner-up at USTA Mother/Son National Clays Courts

Leveque and Sullivan

Leveque and Sullivan

While researching the previous story, I was made aware of a result from last Fall that I had missed.

Danny Sullivan and his mother, Jocelyn Leveque, from Gulf Breeze were runners-up and won the Silver Ball at the USTA National Mother/Son Clay Court Championships held Sept. 25-27, 2015 at The Country Club of Louisiana in Baton Rogue, La.

In the semifinals, our duo beat Joey and Tamara Simone from Solon, Ohio 7-6(4), 6-2. Sullivan and Leveque were beaten in the finals by Diane Barker of Daniel Island, S.C., and Matt Hane of Mount Pleasant, S.C., 6-1, 6-0. Barker and Hane were no slouches as the score indicates.

Diane Barker is currently #1 in the USTA in the Women’s 55 and Matt played college tennis for George Washington University.

Belated congratulations to Sullivan and Leveque for a terrific tournament.

Wachob, Jonsson Post Great National USTA Results

Carter (left) and Wachob

Carter (left) and Wachob

Betty Wachob of Panama City and Evert Jonsson of Miramar Beach had terrific results at national-level tournaments in May.

Wachob was the #2 seed in singles, and with Brenda Carter of Charleston, S.C. the #1 seed in doubles at the USTA National Women’s 70 Hard Court Championships at the La Jolla Beach Tennis Club in La Jolla, Calif., on May 9-15, 2016.

Wachob beat 7th seeded Mary Alice Pisani of Reno, Nev., 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 in the quarterfinals, and #3 seed Cathie Anderson of Del Mar, Calif., 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 before falling 6-1, 6-0 to her doubles partner, the top-seeded Carter.

Wachob and Carter didn’t lose a set in the doubles, beating 4th seeded Anderson and Carolann Castell of Kirkland, Wash., 6-2, 6-4 in the final.

Jonsson played in two major USTA Category II tournaments. At the Southern Senior Men’s Clay Court Championships held May 4-8, 2016 at River Hills Club in Jackson, Miss., Jonsson was unseeded in both singles and in doubles with Sam Hooper of Birmingham.

In the quarters, Jonsson topped 4th seed Larry Albritton of Lehigh Acres, Fla., 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 and followed that win with a resounding 6-0, 6-2 semifinal defeat of #2 seed Stephen Lunsford of Stuart, Fla. Jonsson’s run ended in the finals with a very solid performance but a defeat 6-3, 6-3 at the hands of top-seeded Hugh Thompson of Norcross, Ga.

In doubles, Jonsson and Hooper continued the upset pattern by downing #2 seeded Ralph Grieco (Roswell, Ga.) and Bill Simon (Metairie, La.) 6-0, 6-0. Jonsson and Hooper couldn’t get by the duo of Ivo Barbic (Atlanta, Ga.) and Hugh Thompson as they lost the final 6-1, 6-2.

At the Atlanta Senior Invitational Championships held at the Cherokee Town and Country Club on May 11-15, 2016 Jonsson was in the #5-8 seeds in singles and the #4 seed in doubles with Richard Johnson of Ballwin, Mo. Jonsson lost 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in the quarters to Estero, Fla.’s Fred Drilling. In the doubles, Jonsson and Johnson lost in the semifinals to top seeded Jim Parker (santé Fe, N.M.) and Jody Rush, Tumwater, Wash 6-3, 6-4.

Ruckel Rams Boys and Girls Win Okaloosa County Tennis Championships

Ruckel Boys and Girls Teams with Coach Brett Beattie

Ruckel Boys and Girls Teams with Coach Brett Beattie

Okaloosa County is one of the few in the Panhandle that have organized sports teams in middle school.

All the schools participate in football, basketball, track and tennis among others. The Annual County Tennis Tournament is held at the Fort Walton Beach Municipal Tennis Center in May.

The Ruckel Rams’ tennis teams from Niceville won county championships in both the boys’ and girls’ divisions. Both teams had undefeated regular seasons as well.

Well done Rams. 

School 10-U Workshop in Pensacola

Montessori 10 and Under Workshop Participants

Montessori 10 and Under Workshop Participants

Another successful 10 and Under Tennis Coaches Workshop was held at the Pensacola Montessori School on April 30, 2016.  Thanks to all that attended, Montessori School of Pensacola and Tricia Kruse for hosting, and Glen Howe for the fabulous on court instruction!

CGR Memorial Scholarship Challenge at Hidden Dunes

On May 7, 2016 at Hidden Dunes Beach and Tennis Resort a wonderful tennis event was held celebrating the life of a precious friend, Cheryl G. Rooney, at the 1st Cheryl G. Rooney Tennis Scholarship Tennis Tournament.

There was great tennis along with a raffle and silent auction and a meet and greet with the three $1,500 scholarship winners: Emily Whitlock, Tiffany Berkley and Sydney Weiner.

It was perfect weather for a perfect day with thoughtful new and old friends. Thanks so much to all who played tennis, those who supported the senior scholarships given through raffle and auction items, those who gave auction items (thanks Carrie Monroe), George and Rena with Hidden Dunes, and those who came and shared the day with Cheryl’s friends and family.

$10,000 USPTA Clay Courts at Tops’l Resort

On May 14-16, 2016 at the Tops’l Beach & Racquet Resort the $10,000 USPTA Clay Court Championships were held. Along with terrific tennis, USPTA professionals got Continuing Education credits for seminars that were held during the tourney.

Prior to Saturday’s matches, USPTA Master Professional Bill Tym presented a seminar, “Conducting A Perfect Practice.”

Tops’l Director of Tennis Joe D’Aleo and his staff did a terrific job as hosts of the tournament.

The Men’s Open singles was won 6-4, 5-7, 6-1 by top-seeded William Noblitt of Raleigh, N.C., over second-seeded Jay Weinacker of Vestavia, Ala., in a match that the Tournament Director D’Aleo said was the best clay court match he’s ever seen live, high praise indeed.

Zorana George of Cordova, Tenn., downed Therina Steenkamp of Covington, La., 6-2, 6-2 to win the Women’s Open Singles.

For complete results, click here.


125 Compete at Rosemary Beach Designated 

Men's 30 Singles Winner Ben White (right) with Rosemary Head Professional Byron Townsend

Men’s 30 Singles Winner Ben White (right) with Rosemary Head Professional Byron Townsend

The Rosemary Beach Open (Designated) tournament hosted 125 players on May 12-15, 2016 at the Rosemary Beach Racquet Club in Rosemary Beach, Fla.

This year’s event was one of the few that hasn’t been plagued by rain this spring in the Panhandle.

Director of Tennis Mike Clark and his staff did a wonderful job again with the tournament that included a nice t-shirt, dinner on Friday presented by Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, and lunch on Saturday served-up by the Summer Kitchen Café. Both had absolutely terrific food. Naturally, bottled water, soft drinks and beverages were provided free to players.

The Men’s Open singles was won 7-5, 7-5 by Tom Blackwell of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., over Marvin Colley of Panama City. Destin’s Fawn Cougot defeated Palm Beach Gardens’ Jana Hartlova 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 to win the Women’s Open Singles.

For complete results, click here.