February 23rd, 2016

Tennis Briefs(5): No-Cut Growth, Alt. Format Tourneys, More

General News Adult Tennis News USTA Pro Circuit Schools

Florida Shows Large No-Cut Tennis Gains Following FHSAA, USTA Florida Initiative


Coach Mark Noel and the no-cut Oak Ridge High School team in Orlando

The Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) in partnership with USTA Florida has increased high school “No-Cut” tennis teams from 22 at the end of 2015 to 164 registered schools thus far in 2016.

“The No-Cut program gave kids who wouldn’t normally make the team an opportunity to participate,” said Will Adams, the contract administration specialist for the FHSAA. “I received several calls from coaches thanking us for sending out the information so they could take advantage of the program. It gave teams the opportunity to receive a free case of balls, which is a huge benefit as tennis programs don’t always receive a lot of funding.”

USTA Florida offered an incentive where the first 100 schools to register received two cases of balls (or four cases if the school had both boys’ and girls’ teams). The next 50 schools to register each received one case of balls. A total $15,000 investment was made by USTA Florida for approximately 200 cases of balls to Florida high schools.

Thad Hawkes, the entry-level tournament coordinator for USTA Florida and a high school coach, coordinated the effort. As a No-Cut coach himself, he has seen the difference the program has made in keeping kids in tennis.

“The hardest thing for a coach is to tell someone that they didn’t make the team,” he says. “The other consequence is that the student may very well drop tennis and pick up another sport. Being a supporter of No-Cut means that I keep anyone who comes out.  They practice with us, travel when they can, and many times get to play practice matches. They don’t just feel like part of the team — they actually are. The support we received from the FHSAA has made a huge difference this year.

“Growing this program is just the first step in growing the opportunity for high school tennis in years to come.”

Tony Lilly, the head men’s and women’s coach at Monsignor Pace High School, was one recipient from the program.

“As Thad stated in his letter, ‘I understand the value of tennis balls and how every little bit helps’ — this could not be more meaningful in our situation, and I’m sure for many programs throughout the nation with limited funding and resources.”

High school tennis and providing additional opportunities for players and coaches is high on the Florida tennis radar, along with collaborating with state and local coordinators, according to USTA Florida Associate Executive Director of Recreational Tennis Andy McFarland.

“High school tennis coaches and players are a demographic USTA Florida is looking to get more involved with these next few years,” McFarland says. “From offering education and resources to providing off-season Junior Team Tennis play opportunities, we at USTA Florida need to do a better job collaborating together with coaches and players. Building a sound relationship with FHSAA is a start in the right direction.”

For more information on No-Cut tennis go to www.usta.com/Youth-Tennis/Schools/HighSchool.

Upcoming Florida Tennis Tiebreak, Fast4, One-on-One Doubles Tournaments

tiebreakFlorida adult competitive players will have the opportunity to compete in a number of shorter alternative-format tournaments in the coming months.

Alternative-format events such as Tiebreak Tournaments, Fast4, and One-on-One Doubles offer players a chance to play competitively in one-day and abbreviated tournaments rather than giving up an entire weekend.

Upcoming events:

Feb. 27 — Tiebreaker Tournament, Cambier Park, Naples
March 19 — Fast4 Tournament, River Strand Golf and Country Club, Bradenton
April 2 — One-on-One Doubles Tournament, Tarpon Tennis Club, Tarpon Springs
April 30 — One-on-One Doubles Tournament, ESPN Wide World of Sports, Kissimmee *change*
May 7 — Tiebreaker Tournament, Florida Tennis Center, Daytona Beach
Aug. 6 — Tiebreaker Tournament, Patch Reef Park, Boca Raton

“The main reasons why players enjoy these alternative format events are shorter duration of event and lower cost,” says USTA Florida Director of Competitive Tennis Jason Gilbert. “The entry fees are significantly lower for one-day events, with fees ranging from $15 to $30.”

To learn more about alternative format tournaments click here, or find the tournaments listed on TennisLink.

Mardy Fish Foundation to Manage Vero Beach Futures Tournament for Charity

Fish-conferenceThe Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation in Vero Beach, Fla., has taken over the management of the $10,000 USTA Pro Circuit Futures men’s tennis tournament, one of the most storied Pro Circuit events in Florida.

The tournament, to be renamed The Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Tennis Championships, will benefit the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation, the non-profit organization benefiting children and named for Vero Beach native Mardy Fish.

The event, previously managed for 20 years by Vero Beach tennis teaching professional Mike Rahaley, will be held on April 22-May 1 in 2016.

“We are so appreciative to the USTA and Mike Rahaley for allowing the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation to take over this tournament and keeping it in Vero Beach,” said Mardy Fish. “Vero Beach is one of the most enthusiastic and sophisticated tennis communities in the country and we are looking forward to seeing this event continue to grow in the years to come. Most importantly, we are excited that the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation can use this event as a promotional and fundraising platform to benefit children in Vero Beach, Indian River County and beyond.”

With an economic impact of approximately $500,000 per year on the Vero Beach local economy, the event over the years has seen a number of big names pass through on their way to the upper levels of the ATP World Tour circuit. Andy Roddick, Milos Raonic, Tim Henman, Thomas Johansson, and Nicolas Massu are just some of the names of players who competed in Vero Beach before achieving Top 10 rankings, Grand Slam titles or Olympic medals.

Six former Vero Beach players have gone on to play Davis Cup for the United States — Roddick, Fish, Taylor Dent, Jared Palmer, Donald Young and Ryan Harrison.

For tournament ticket info go to www.VeroBeachTennisTickets.com, or for more info on the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation go to www.mffkids.org.

4th Tarpon Springs Cancer Charity Tourney on March 6

kiss my aceThe 4th Annual ‘Kiss My Ace Cancer!’ Mixed Doubles Charity Tournament, a one-day tournament benefiting the American Cancer Society, will be held on Sunday, March 6, 2016 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Tarpon Tennis Club in Tarpon Springs, Fla.

All event proceeds will benefit the American Cancer Society, and the charity tournament is a qualifying event (winners, finalists, and consolation winners will qualify) for the Tampa-area Tournament of Champions charity event.

Players will receive goodie bags and shirts, a continental breakfast, a buffet lunch, prizes, awards for the winners and more.

To register or for more info click here.

Windermere’s Beltrame Named PTR Professional of the Year

Billie Jean King with Lorenzo Beltrame

Billie Jean King with Lorenzo Beltrame

Professional Tennis Registry (PTR) presented its annual awards last week during the 2016 PTR International Tennis Symposium, where Lorenzo Beltrame of Windermere, Fla., was named PTR Professional of the Year.

The award is presented to the PTR Professional who has displayed the highest standards of conduct and service to both tennis and PTR. Areas of consideration include service to PTR; participation in national, sectional or local tennis organizations; personal or student rankings/performance; exhibitions or speaking engagements; publication of articles; tournaments; coaching; tennis related volunteer/community service; and continued education.

Beltrame has worked with dozens of ATP and WTA tour professionals, including Jim Courier and Pete Sampras, and traveled extensively coaching players in major events. Since 1996, Beltrame has served as director of tennis and athletic performance coaching at the Human Performance Institute in Orlando.  Prior to joining HPI, he was responsible for developing and running high performance programs at Club Ambrosiano in Milan, Italy.

A registered coach of the WTA tour Beltrame holds both USPTA Master Professional and PTR Professional certifications, and is certified as Maestro by the Italian Tennis Federation. He is also an ACE-certified personal trainer, and a USTA specialist in competitive player development. He was awarded the Coach of the Year and received the “Doc” Counsilman Science Award by the United States Olympic Committee.

For more info go to www.ptrtennis.org.