May 17th, 2016

Tennis Briefs(5): NCAA Team Results, USTA Pro Circuit, More

General News Coaches Workshops Adult Tennis News College Tennis USTA Pro Circuit

University of Florida Men Claim SEC Tournament Title, Return to NCAA Sweet Sixteen

By Colette Lewis


Photo: Bill Kallenberg

The last six weeks have been good to the Gators.

Entering the Southeastern Conference tournament on a modest three-match winning steak, Bryan Shelton’s team shut out Vanderbilt and Texas A&M to reach the final against regular-season conference champion Georgia. The Bulldogs, who had beaten Florida 5-2 just two weeks earlier in Athens, were undefeated in conference play, but the Gators spoiled their perfect season with a 4-2 victory in Columbia, S.C.

Clinching the match was senior Gordon Watson of Naples, one of three Florida starters who grew up playing junior tennis in Florida. Watson, Coral Gables freshman Alfredo Perez (orange hat in photo), and sophomore Chase Perez-Blanco of Miami were instrumental in delivering Florida’s fifth SEC title.

Perez and Perez-Blanco won their doubles match to help Florida secure that valuable point, and both picked up wins in singles. In his singles match, Watson fought back to defeat Georgia’s Nick Wood 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 for the clinching point and was named tournament MVP for his efforts.

When the conference awards were announced a few days later, the Gators nearly swept them. Florida’s singles No. 1, Diego Hidalgo, was named Player of the Year, Shelton was named Coach of the Year and Perez shared conference Freshman of the Year honors with Kentucky’s Ryotara Matsumura. Watson was voted to the SEC all-conference first team, while Perez received second-team recognition.

Next up for the team was the NCAA regional, hosted by the Gators in Gainesville last weekend. After defeating North Florida 4-0, Florida had a talented South Florida team in its path to the Sweet Sixteen. The Bulls, who had made the program’s first trip to the round of 16 last year, were ranked 17th this year, one spot from hosting their own regional. Ninth-ranked Florida was unlucky to have such an accomplished team placed in its regional, but the Gators, who lost in the first round of last year’s NCAAs, came through with flying colors, beating South Florida 4-0.

“It was a tough draw to face them in the second round,” Shelton told “We knew that it was going to be a tough test. Our guys just came in with a lot of confidence. I think throughout these past five or six weeks we have gathered some momentum. It is definitely showing in our doubles play. Our guys are having fun playing and if we get down a little bit, our guys don’t flinch. We just keep playing. I think that is the belief and the trust between these guys and in one another.”

In Friday’s round of 16 match in Tulsa, the site of the NCAA Division I team and individual tournaments, Florida will play SMU, an upset winner over No. 8 seed Texas Tech in the regional final.

Russian Solovyeva Wins USTA Pro Circuit Naples

NaplesRussian wild card Valeria Solovyeva defeated unseeded American Kayla Day 6-4, 6-0 in the Sunday final of the Academia Sanchez-Casal Women’s Open, a $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Naples, Fla.

It was the 23-year-old’s second career ITF/USTA Pro Circuit title and first since 2010. It was the first final for the 16-year-old Day.

“It is a long road and it’s just began,” said Solovyeva, who missed most of the last year with injury, told the Naples Daily News. “I’m happy to have the result in my second event of my comeback.”

Day en route to the final beat No. 5 seed Gabriela Ce, No. 2 Michelle Larcher de Brito, and No. 4 Catherine Bellis in the semifinals.

Top seeds Gabriela Ce of Brazil and Justyna Jegiolka of Poland won the doubles title, beating No. 2 seeds Renata Zarazua of Mexico and American Sophie Chang 6-1, 6-2 in the final.

UF Men, Women, Miami Women in NCAA Sweet Sixteen

Featured_NCAA tennisNCAA tennis regional team play ended over the weekend and the Sweet Sixteen is set for both the men and women in Tulsa, Okla.

The University of Florida men advanced by beating South Florida 4-0 in their regional final. In the round of 16 in Tulsa on Friday they will meet SMU, which upset No. 8 seed Texas Tech in their regional final.

On the women’s side two Florida teams advanced to Tulsa when the University of Miami beat TCU 4-0, and UF rolled past Syracuse 4-0 in regional finals.

“I know it’s a big deal, but it’s honestly just an accumulation of just one step in front of the other for many years,” Miami women’s head coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews said. “It’s been a fun road and it’s been a really disciplined road, and at times it’s been kind of a really monotonous road, but this is why I work. It’s not about me, it’s about bringing this team together and making the team have each season become their own. The more teams that I can be a part of and coach to get them to experience this, here today, that’s what I enjoy.”

On Thursday Miami will face Michigan, and Florida will meet Stanford.

For more info go to

Boca Raton Hosts USTA Player Development Hispanic-American Coaching Symposium

USTAPlayerDevelopment_4cUSTA Player Development hosted the second in a series of three coaching education symposiums geared to engage under-represented coaching communities on May 13-15, 2016, at the USTA Training Center Headquarters in Boca Raton, Fla.

The goals of the symposiums are to continue USTA Player Development’s ongoing efforts to create a collaborative partnership with a full spectrum of its American tennis stakeholders. USTA Player Development shared the division’s coaching system and philosophy and discussed potential improvements to enhance its support of specific groups.

“Reaching out to and engaging the Hispanic-American community has been one of the tenets of my term as president of the USTA,” said national USTA President Katrina Adams. “This symposium is just one way that we have tried to increase this outreach, and engage in a population that is so greatly underrepresented in the sport of tennis in America.”

For more info go to www.ustacom/news.

3 Florida Winners of ITA Junior and Community College Women’s Tennis Awards

Featured_ITA 2-26-15Three Florida individuals were lauded when the Intercollegiate Tennis Association announced the 2016 Junior and Community Colleges national women’s award winners.

ASA Miami’s Brian Slack was awarded Wilson/ITA Coach of the Year.

Since taking the reins at ASA Miami, Slack has posted a 50-14 record, including a 23-1 mark against junior college competition. The Silver Storm entered the 2016 NJCAA Division I Women’s Tennis Championship with a 21-1 record (14-0 versus junior colleges) and a No. 1 national ranking in the Oracle/ITA Collegiate Tennis Rankings.

ASA Miami’s Macarena Olivares was named ITA Sophomore Player of the Year.

The 2015 ITA Rookie of the Year, Olivares once again led the Silver Storm to a No. 1 national ranking, while also holding the No. 2 ranking in singles and doubles. Olivares, who possesses a 3.8 GPA, is 20-2 in singles and doubles play this season, playing the No. 1 position in both. She won the 2015 JUCO National Small College Championship and was a finalist in the NSCC Super Bowl. She’s looking to defend her NJCAA Women’s Tennis Championship singles and doubles national titles in 2016.

Maria Medina of the State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, was named the ITA Rookie of the Year.

Medina notched impressive wins in singles and doubles in her first season at the State College of Florida, and in doing so vaulted to the top of both the singles and doubles national rankings. In singles, Medina topped then-No. 1 Macarena Olivares of ASA Miami 7-5, 7-5 in the Region IV singles final, and had an overall singles record of 16-4. In doubles, Medina and teammate Iulia Sergheeva were 18-2, with a pair of wins over ASA Miami’s Olivares and Megane Bianco, the previous No. 1-ranked team in the nation.

To read the full release go to