March 8th, 2017

Tennis Briefs: 12-year-old Holds Fundraiser for Mal; Florida Jrs. Win USTA Spring Chps.

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12-year-old in St. Johns, Fla., Hosting Tennis Fundraiser for MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation in March

When Allie Bielski needed a fundraiser idea for her Bat Mitzvah project, she brought together three of her favorite things — tennis, playing with family, and the charitable work of former Wimbledon finalist MaliVai Washington.

The “Allie B’s Bat Mitzvah Tennis Project” Adult/Child Tennis Tournament fundraiser will be held on Sunday, March 26, 2017, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Mills Field Tennis Courts in St. Johns, Fla. Proceeds will benefit the MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation, just north of St. Johns in Jacksonville, which provides after-school tennis, studying assistance and more for at-risk youth.

As a bonus, Washington will speak to kids and parents at the event, play an exhibition match, and donate an hour of his time for a private lesson as part of the event’s raffle.

“I can’t wait to finally meet Mal because he is a very generous, talented and selfless man,” said the 12 year old, who got the idea for the fundraiser when she visited the foundation in Jacksonville. “I have admired him for a while now. I also can’t wait to learn more about his journey that got him to where he is today.”

The adult/child format for the event comes from playing with her mother — first as a USTA 10 and Under Tennis-format “red ball” beginner, and now as a budding tournament player.

“The reason I chose to do a parent-child competition is because the feeling I get when I play tennis with my mother is better than when I play tennis alone,” the 7th grader said. “I want to help create that feeling for other families while doing a mitzvah. A mitzvah is a good deed.”

Bielski is a student of tennis instructor Heather Lester.

“I sometimes picture her to be either a politician or a lawyer one day because she has such great tenacity and asks tons of questions to better understand what is going on around her,” Lester says. “Allie is becoming one of my up-and-coming junior performance players now entering the under-14 category in tournament play.”

Allie hopes that in addition to raising money for a good cause, maybe some kids new to tennis will also pick up a racquet.

“In 2nd grade I had a day off of school, so I went with my mom to watch her play tennis,” she says. “While I was watching her, I imagined myself swinging at the ball. And that is when I knew tennis was the sport for me!”

For more information on the fundraiser or to register go to


Florida Juniors Cacciatore, Krug Bring Home USTA National Spring Team Championships

From left: Harry and Grey Cacciatore after winning the Boys’ 18s title at the 2016 USTA Florida “Bobby Curtis” Junior State Doubles Championships

Harry Cacciatore of Gainesville, Fla., and Connor Krug of Lakewood Ranch, Fla., were on the Broncos team that beat the Patriots 5-2 in the Tuesday final of the USTA National Spring Team Championships in Mobile, Ala.

In the college-style format featuring age 14s, 16s and 18s players on the same team, Cacciatore won the 16s doubles with partner Cole Groetsch. Krug, down a break in his singles match, came back to force a tiebreak and win 6-1, 7-6(6).

“Harry Cacciatore was my MVP,” Broncos coach Bryan Minton told “I already told him that. He lost his singles match today, but he pulled out so many tough matches for us along the way. His team spirit was amazing, he was always the one to count us down, he had great energy, great focus, and I just believed in him.  I believed in the whole team, every one of the guys was amazing, but Harry really stood out. He was cheering for everyone else in the middle of some of his own big battles.”

Harry and his twin brother Grey won the 18s doubles title (after winning the 16s the previous year) at the USTA Florida “Bobby Curtis” Junior State Championships in 2016.

To read the full story on the Broncos’ victory click here