Tennis at Aventura Founders Day; Miami-Dade Sign-Up for USTA Junior Team Tennis
Last weekend’s annual Founders Day event for the City of Aventura, Fla., once again highlighted tennis and how easy it is to introduce kids to the game as hundreds of children tried their hand at “red ball” tennis with kid-friendly smaller racquets on 36-foot short courts at Founders Park Bayside.
“So many parents were excited about their kids playing tennis, and signing up to learn more about our expanding Junior Team Tennis league in North Miami-Dade,” said Miami-area USTA Florida Tennis Program Coordinator Cathy Nordlund. “Adults and kids took to the courts from the more than 6,000 event attendees, and the Barry University men’s and women’s tennis teams were gracious enough to volunteer again this year on court with the kids.”
The event celebrates Aventura’s incorporation as a city in 1995.
“Having a presence at this event has been a great chance to expose diverse communities to tennis and inform them about available play opportunities,” said USTA Florida Diversity and Marketing Coordinator Maria Romo-Jackson. “Aventura has a variety of families from different backgrounds and this event aligns perfectly with our priority to grow tennis among diverse populations.”
This year’s Aventura Founders Day also featured the debut of the new Aventura Arts & Cultural Center, food and fun activities for the whole family including arts and crafts, airbrush tattoos, face painting, rock climbing walls, a Toddler Town play area, puppet shows, mobile arcade, the “What’s the Deal?” game show, two big screen TVs to watch the Miami Dolphins game, the 8th annual Aventura Star Talent Competition finals, and music by Jimmy Stowe and the Castaways.
USTA Junior Team Tennis leagues in Miami-Dade are expanding with More Teams (gender neutral and single-gender options to allow for more teams to participate), More Play (shorter scoring formats with scheduling flexibility to offer multiple matches on JTT match days) and More Fun (cooperative line-ups provided by captains for level-based play).
Junior Team Tennis is for children age 11-18 and youngsters 10 and under. Kids age 10 and under learn the game the proper and easy way with the USTA 10 and Under Tennis format, which makes tennis kid-sized and fun. Smaller racquets, court sizes, lower- and slower-bouncing balls that allow for longer rallies and net play, make the game fun and engaging for small children as opposed to struggling with adult-size equipment.
For more information on Junior Team Tennis play opportunities in the area contact Cathy Nordlund at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nineteen youth players benefited from the expertise of four high-performance coaches and USTA Florida staff during a regional USTA Florida Diversity Camp held earlier this month at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Fla.
It was the final regional diversity camp of 2015 in Florida, following a Daytona Beach Diversity Camp at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in June, and a South Florida Diversity Camp at Midtown Athletic Club in Weston in September. More than 80 players attended USTA Florida Diversity Camps in 2015.
Kevin Quay from the USTA Florida Coaches Commission directed the Tampa camp, and coaches included former Florida Gator All American Alexandra Cercone, USTA High Performance Coach Scott Dei, and St. Petersburg Racquet Center Junior Director David Despard.
“The camp included morning drills, match play and One-on-One Doubles with Ed Krass,” said USTA Florida Player Development Coordinator Andy Gladstone. “Scott Dei, who is the former coach at Eckerd College, gave a thorough talk on the ins and outs of playing college tennis. The camp was run concurrently with the Tennis On Campus club match that University of Tampa hosted, which provided a great atmosphere for the kids.”
USTA Florida Diversity Camps are for junior tennis players between the ages of 13-18, and are designed to help players to improve their game, learn about college scholarship opportunities, tournaments, and the latest in sports science and physical training.
Former Florida juniors such as Sloane Stephens, Victoria Duval, Sachia Vickery, and University of Florida standout Sekou Bangoura are just some of the success stories from the unique Florida diversity camp experience that not only prepares young players for college or pro tennis success on and off the court, but involves parents and their coaches in the process.
For more info on USTA Florida Diversity Camps visit www.USTAFlorida.com/diversity.
Pensacola Serves Up Big Charity Tennis Return for Manna Food Bank
Pensacola kicked off the giving season in a big way when the Montessori School of Pensacola’s (MSP) tennis program hosted a charitable match play event against the McClelland Tennis Academy (MTA) on Nov. 13, 2015.
The event, “Serve for Manna,” targeted children who play at the green- and yellow-ball level.
Tricia Kruse, program manager for MSP, said, “We weren’t sure how many children would turn out and hoped for enough to play even a few matches, but instead we had RSVPs rolling in and reached 45 children by the day of the event. The turnout is a symbol of the strong tennis community we have in the area, and what can happen when organizations come together for the development of children, advancement of the sport and giving back to others.”
William McClelland of MTA was the head coach for the evening.
“Having more children than originally planned is definitely a nice problem to have,” McClelland said. “Many of the children who participated only play tennis in after-school clinics. This was a great opportunity to introduce a new experience, and may be the first step in getting the children to branch out and participate in a 10U tournament or join a Junior Team Tennis league.”
Tara Dominguez, the new USTA Florida tennis program coordinator for the Panhandle/Region 1 area, agrees.
“Not every player desires to pursue the competitive tennis track,” Dominguez said. “It is imperative that communities offer recreational play opportunities, especially match play, particularly since 99 percent of players will in fact be recreational players in the long term. We are lucky in Pensacola to have facilities that support and offer these recreational play opportunities!”
Manna Food Pantries of Escambia County was the big winner of the tennis event. The families who attended contributed several hundred non-perishable food items totaling 287 pounds, food which will go a long way this holiday season in feeding those in need.
For more info on Montessori School of Pensacola tennis go to www.montessoripensacola.com/activities/tennis/.
UM, UF, FGCU Win Titles at 6th Dick Vitale Intercollegiate Tennis Tournament
Max Mathews of the University of Miami captured the men’s singles title, while Oliver Landert and Andreas Alfonzo of Florida Gulf Coast University won the men’s doubles, and the University of Florida’s Brianna Morgan and Anna Danilina the women’s doubles at the sixth annual Dick Vitale Intercollegiate Tennis Tournament in Lakewood Ranch, Fla.
Miami’s No. 3-seeded Mathews in the men’s singles final defeated Minnesota’s Reuben Weber 6-4, 6-4. FGCU’s unseeded Landert-Alfonzo in the men’s doubles final topped the University of Michigan’s Kevin Wong and Carter Lin 8-4, and in the women’s doubles final the Gators’ unseeded Morgan-Danilina defeated Oklahoma State 8-2.
UF’s Spencer Liang was stopped in the women’s singles final by Oklahoma State’s Vladi Babic 6-2, 6-4.
The tournament featured teams from across the country including Michigan, Duke, , Miami, Florida, Florida Gulf Coast, Notre Dame, Pepperdine, Arizona, Ole Miss, Oklahoma State, Minnesota, Temple and more. The event raised more than $55,000 for cancer research.
“I hosted a party for all the players and coaches at my house on Saturday night,” Vitale said. “Nick Bollettieri and I loved talking with all the young kids and speaking to them about having goals and the importance of making good choices.”
The 76-year-old ESPN announcer hosts the tournament at the Lakewood Ranch Athletic Center.
UWF’s Sanchez Wins Wild Card Tourney at Pensacola Futures Tennis; Main Draw Starts Today
The Pensacola Futures Wild Card Tournament came to a close last Thursday at the Roger Scott Tennis Center in Pensacola, with University of West Florida player Sebastien Sanchez and New Jersey’s Michael Lippens earning spots in the Pensacola Futures qualifying tournament.
Sanchez, originally from Bogota, Colombia, plays at the No. 4 spot for the UWF men’s tennis team. Lippens traveled to Pensacola from West Long Branch, New Jersey to try and reach the main draw competition.
Sanchez defeated Chris Ephron, a local high school tennis player, 6-2 6-1, and Lippens defeated Lynch 6-2, 6-2 in the final rounds. The highlight of the tournament, however, was a match between Sanchez and Matt Kandath, a former player for the Stanford Cardinals, which occurred in the second round. Sanchez won a nail-biting first set 7-6, while Kandath won the second set 6-4. Kandath was up 9-5 in the 10-point tiebreaker, but Sanchez came back to win it 12-10.
The Pensacola Sports Association (PSA), along with Roger Scott Tennis Center, will be hosting the qualifier tournament beginning Friday, Nov. 13 and the main draw beginning on Tuesday, Nov. 17. Admission to the tournament is free, or you can find updates on the Pensacola Futures Championship at www.facebook.com/PensacolaFutures.
With approximately 90 tournaments hosted annually throughout the country and prize money ranging from $10,000 to $100,000, the USTA Pro Circuit is the pathway to the US Open and tour-level competition for aspiring tennis players and a frequent battleground for established professionals. Mardy Fish, Maria Sharapova, Andy Murray, Caroline Wozniacki, John Isner and Victoria Azarenka are among today’s top stars who began their careers on the USTA Pro Circuit.
For more info go to www.facebook.com/PensacolaFutures.