• Alachua County Represented for the First Time in Special Olympics Tennis

    Sometimes it takes a village to get a tennis program started, and in our case, it certainly did. After many months of hard work on the part of organizers, volunteers, and athletes alike, for the first time ever, Alachua County was represented in the tennis competition in the Special Olympics Summer Games at the ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando.

    SO feb 16 18 groupThe journey started when a board member of the Gainesville Area Community Tennis Association (GACTA), Elizabeth Patterson, decided to focus her considerable energy and talent on creating a sustainable adaptive tennis program in Gainesville. She first approached Royce Kamman, the principal of Sidney Lanier Center, which is the only public school for children with developmental disabilities in our community. Mr. Kamman embraced the idea of bringing GACTA’s and the USTA’s resources to the PE program at Sidney Lanier. The center became a USTA Member Organization, and its PE program was registered with USTA. In partnership with the PE teacher, Winston Church, and with the assistance of USTA and the USTA Florida Section Foundation’s equipment and programming grants, low-compression balls, racquets and nets were acquired for the program. Weekly tennis instruction was incorporated into the PE curriculum, using volunteers from the tennis community and the University of Florida. Chris Gonzalez, student organizer of Gator Pals, a UF student-run organization, partnered with GACTA to provide volunteers to help facilitate Special Olympics practices for the tennis athletes. Special Olympics Florida provided a day of on-site training, led by tennis pro Howard Chodek, as part of the Special Olympics coach certification process. UF’s Center for Autism and Related Disabilities also provided free training for our staff and volunteers on best practices for working with people with developmental disabilities, including how best to structure practices. A generous local donor established the Aces in Motion Julie E. Best Memorial Tennis Fund to help fund the program, and the USTA Florida Section Foundation continued its support. so area 197

    Another important goal for Elizabeth was to provide the athletes with an inclusive sport experience, and the Project Unify program of Special Olympics provided that opportunity. Taylor Byle, a UF pre-med student, had just organized a Project Unify flag football season for Special Olympics Alachua, and was volunteering as an assistant basketball coach for Sidney Lanier. In late 2015, both Taylor and Mr. Church assisted in recruiting Sidney Lanier students for the tennis program, and they both greatly helped us navigate the paperwork needed for establishing our local Special Olympics tennis program.SO area 2

    Weekly practices for the Special Olympics athletes began in late December, 2015, in the gym at Sidney Lanier, as well as at a city tennis facility. Volunteers came from both our local tennis community and from UF, many of whom formed a strong bond with the players. Athletes of all abilities learned tennis skills and made steady progression into various levels of competition. The athletes, as part of the “ACES” team, formed lasting friendships and became true teammates, cheering each other on in their skills and competition matches.

    This spring, the athletes first competed in County and Area Games in a variety of categories, including Tennis Skills, Red and Orange ball singles and doubles, and Unified Tennis Doubles, in which a Special Olympics athlete is paired with a “neuro-typical” player. Based on their results in the Area Games, seven of our tennis athletes and three Unified partners were chosen to attend the Special Olympics Summer Games, which was held at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports in May. The Summer Games provided quite an experience for the athletes– the spectacular Opening Ceremony, two full days of competition, and the closing events, which included a player party and dance. The tennis players from Alachua County were recognized repeatedly, being called to the winner’s platform over and over to receive their trophies and medals.so summer games 16

    Elizabeth commented, “As the adaptive tennis program developer and a certified Special Olympics tennis coach, I was very privileged to train so many outstanding athletes in the Aces in Motion Adaptive Tennis program. I couldn’t be prouder of the team ACES athletes. I am personally humbled and awed by each athlete’s sportsmanship, enthusiasm, hard work and dedication.  I am looking forward to another incredible year!”  

    so area 122Eden, a 16 year-old Sidney Lanier student of Chinese descent with Down Syndrome, was one of the athletes who traveled to the Summer Games. Her mother, Haley, traveled with her and described the experience. She wrote, “This has been an incredible opportunity for Eden! Just the chance to learn the sport and have people invest so much time and energy into her has brought her great joy. This is especially valuable for Eden as she has spent the majority of her life in a (Chinese) orphanage with hundreds of other children. To have an opportunity like this – and then to even be able to go to the State Games — was more than we could have hoped for her.  At Disney she kept telling me over and over and over how happy she was, and it brought me to tears several times. I can honestly say this was probably the happiest I have seen her in the two years since she has been home. And it was such a great chance for me to be able to go with her and just enjoy seeing how incredibly joyful she was. To see her get an opportunity like this – she has come so far — and every person at GACTA has helped build her confidence in herself”

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    Haley went on to talk about the program. “The tennis program has meant so much to Eden and our family. We have been amazed by all the volunteers that come out with such great attitudes and by how well they relate to the athletes. They show the athletes that they are valued and that they can accomplish great things. Coach Patterson especially has put so much time and excellence into this program and it shows. We truly couldn’t be more grateful and look forward to Eden growing in her tennis skills even more in the coming year!”

    The tennis program has not only benefited the athletes, but many of the volunteers also felt that the experience was very rewarding. Taylor Byle, who served as overall county coordinator for the Special Olympics Area Games and as a Unified Tennis partner, described his feelings about playing with his doubles partner, JJ. Taylor explained, “Although I have been volunteering with Special Olympics Alachua for more than a year, this was my first opportunity to participate as a Unified Partner. Competing alongside an athlete with intellectual disabilities was very enlightening, in particular getting to experience the process of struggling through something and progressing slowly. I had no previous tennis experience so learning a new sport alongside my teammate gave me some perspective into what Special Olympics athletes go through. Most of the athletes struggle with simple tasks, so experiencing sort of what they go through and being on a level playing field was eye opening. It was also great to see JJ improve over time to become both a better tennis player and a better athlete. As a Unified Partner, you know that someone else is depending on you and you know how important winning is to the athletes, so you put added pressure on yourself to be at your best. Even though we did not win our event, we both progressed very far in a short period of time. I look forward to improving and competing with JJ in the future.”

    so summer games 4

    He went on to say, “The enthusiasm of the athletes made me look forward to going to practice every week. Seeing the smiles on the athlete’s faces during competition and when they receive their medals makes it all worth it. The excitement is contagious and it’s what keeps bringing me back to volunteer.”  

     

     

     

  • GACTA Middle School Tennis League Completes its Sixth Season

    This spring, the Gainesville Area Community Tennis Association (GACTA) sponsored the sixth season of its no-cut GACTA Middle School Tennis league, which provided almost 150 local middle school students, from beginner to advanced players, an opportunity to play tennis in a team format for their school. As in previous years, the season ran during the months of April and May following the high school tennis season. Volunteer parent-captains recruited middle school students from nine middle schools under the guidance of Anne Koterba, President of GACTA and coordinator of the middle school tennis program. This year, for the first time a group of players from Sidney Lanier Center, a school for students with developmental disabilities, joined the Westwood Middle School team. The other local schools included Lincoln, Jordan Glen, Oak Hall School, Kanapaha, Howard Bishop, and newcomers PK Yonge, Queen of Peace, and Oakview.

    DSC_0107This year, the Middle School League Team Championship, mirroring the FHSAA State Tennis Championship’s changed to a team vs. team format (but with an emphasis on doubles), was held at the Jonesville Tennis Center. This year, Lincoln Middle School won the 2016 Middle School Championship for the first time, upsetting Jordan Glen School, which had reigned as Tournament Champion for the past four years.

    DSC_0111Jordan Glen ended up the Tournament Finalist, with Oak Hall School coming in third place. The number #1 doubles team of Ethan Cockey and Kejin “Jackson” Dong was also recognized.

    GACTA’s no-cut middle school tennis program is sustainable because the hard costs are covered by a modest participation fee ($55), and because our local private and public tennis facilities generously provide teaching pros for practices and courts for both practices and matches. In addition, the parent-coordinators provide a great deal of volunteer help. The participation fee also generates enough revenue to provide scholarships for students from low-income families, as well as support GACTA’s Aces in Motion tennis outreach program for at-risk youth. This year, for the first time, Elizabeth Patterson, the parent-coordinator for Westwood Middle School and Taylor Byle, both whom had coached a Special Olympics tennis group, provided a unified playing experience for several of those players. They attended practices and competed in matches, as a part of Westwood’s team.

     “Teamwork and sportsmanship is what this program is really about,” Koterba said. “We just want kids of all backgrounds and all abilities to be able to go out and play and learn how enjoyable the game can be. We like to emphasize that tennis can be a great team sport, whether playing for your school’s team or playing as a doubles team.”

    This year, the Jonesville Tennis Center (JTC), Westside Tennis, Oak Hall School, and the Haile Plantation Golf and Country Club provided courts for match play for the middle school league, and all of these facilities, as well as the 300 Club, “adopted” teams for practices. The new champions, Lincoln Middle School, was coached by Alexis King and Abdoulaye Toure, and the parent coordinator was Kim Beck.

    DSC_0121

    For more information on GACTA’s programs, pleasego to Gainesville Tennis or Aces in Motion on Facebook.

     

  • The Amazing Give and GACTA

     

    GACTA is one of the non-profits participating in the Amazing Give, which is a 24 hour long online fundraising effort, hosted by the Community Foundation of North Central Florida, that offers a selected group of non-profits the opportunity to raise funds to support their organizations.

    We are hoping to win at least one of the $1,000 incentive prizes available. In particular, a $1000 prize will be awarded to the participating non-profit with the highest number of unique donors during the Amazing Give Kick Off Power Hour. So if possible, please make your donation between 6:00 pm and 6:59 pm TODAY (Monday) at https://theamazinggive.razoo.com/us/story/Gainesville-Area Community-Tennis-Association. Any amount would be most appreciated. Your donation will support programming for our under-served youth living in low-income neighborhoods and our adaptive tennis program for people with special needs through our Aces In Motion program.

    Even if you cannot donate at that time, please consider donating during the 24 hour period of the Amazing Give campaign (May 2nd, 6:00 pm through May 3rd, 5:59 pm) and help us qualify for other prizes and matching dollars. $2500 in matching dollars is available for donations made to GACTA. Let’s come together as a community and show that we care about our under-served youth and their futures.Thank you!

  • 2016 GACTA Middle School Tennis Begins Soon!

    The sixth season of GACTA’s Middle School Tennis season is starting soon! This no-cut program welcomes players of all levels. Matches will run from mid-April through the beginning of June at tennis courts in the Gainesville area. Participating schools include: Lincoln, Westwood, Howard Bishop, Kanapaha, Oak Hall, Jordan Glen, and we hope to welcome Oak View and Queen of Peace to the program. If your school is not listed and you are interested in starting a program please contact Anne Koterba, program coordinator at akoterba@nullaol.com.

  • Junior Community Tennis Calendar for January – February 2016

    There are a number of local tennis tournaments in January and February for our junior players.

  • USTA Junior Team Tennis is Back for Spring 2016!

  • GACTA Annual Meeting and Volunteer Appreciation Party

    Come out to celebrate our volunteers for GACTA’s Volunteer Appreciation Party on Sunday, December 13th, at the 300 Club from 3:30 – 6:30 pm! There will be a round robin, tennis clinic, drinks and pizza from Humble Pie. Tickets are $20!

    E-mail Addison Staples (addison@ acesinmotion.org) with your name and level to reserve your spot. We are capping this event at 50 players so make sure to e-mail Addison soon! Looking forward to celebrating our invaluable volunteers with you all.

  • The Fall Season of Junior Team Tennis is Starting: SCHEDULES

    Here is the schedule for the fall season of our Team Tennis League..  Teams in BOLD will be the home team. Robert Taylor is the coordinator for this fall season. Robert’s email is:  rt4tennis@nullgmail.com 
    League Notes:
    8 game pro sets (no-ad scoring)  Tiebreaker at 8-8
    2 singles/2 doubles matches
    Each Home Team will receive an allotment of balls for home matches for the whole season.  Each match use only 2 cans per match.  (most facilities will only be able to allot 2 courts for matches). Recycle balls at your facility for use.  If you run out of home match balls, please email me so I can send you more (lost balls, bad cans,etc)
    Schedules will be posted on www.jonesvilletennis.com website and www.gainesvilletennis.org websites for parents to access.
    Scores will be updated weekly and online on the Jonesville website as well..  Please email scores after match play so updating is easier..
    There will be some wiggle room in case of rainouts.. All matches must be completed by Nov. 13th.
    12 and Under Beginner Division: ALL MATCHES WILL BE AT 5 PM
       

    Oct. 4:  JTC-Smashers @ Haile

                JTC-Porter/Bethea @ Westside

                JTC- Aces @  DB

     

    Oct. 11:  Haile @ Westside

                  JTC-Aces @  JTC-Porter/Bethea

                  JTC-Smashers @ DB

     

    Oct. 17    DB  @   Haile

    JTC-Porter/Bethea @ JTC-Aces

                   Westside @ JTC-Smashers

     

    Oct. 18   Haile @  JTC-Aces

                  JTC-Porter/Bethea @ JTC-Smashers

                  Westside @ DB

     

    Oct. 25   Haile @ JTC-Porter/Bethea

                  JTC-Aces  @  Westside

                   DB @  JTC-Smashers

     

    Nov. 1     JTC-Smashers @  Haile

                   Westside @ JTC-Porter/Bethea

                   DB @  JTC-Aces

    12 and Under Intermediate Schedule:  ALL MATCHES ARE AT 3 PM

    Oct. 4:  DB @ Haile

              JTC-Beck/Phillips @ Westside

     

    Oct. 11   Haile @ Westside

                  DB @  JTC-Beck/Phillips

     

    Oct. 17  Haile @ JTC-Beck/Phillips

                 Westside @ DB

     

    Oct. 18   JTC-Beck/Phillps @  DB

                  Haile @ Westside

     

    Oct. 25    JTC-Beck/Phillips @ Haile

                   Westside @ DB

     

    Nov. 1      DB @ Haile

                    Westside @  JTC-Beck/Phillips

     

    14 and Under Intermediate Division: ALL MATCHES ARE AT 4 PM
    Oct. 4   Jordan Glen @ Haile             

    Porter @ 300 Club

     

    Oct. 11  Haile @ 300 Club

     Jordan Glen @ Porter

     

    Oct. 17  Porter @ Jordan Glen

    300 Club @ Haile

     

    Oct. 18   Haile @ Jordan Glen

    300 Club @ Porter

     

    Oct. 25    Haile @  Porter

     Jordan Glen @ 300 Club

     

    Nov. 1     300 Club @ Haile

    Porter @ Jordan Glen

    18 and Under Intermediate Schedule: ALL MATCHES ARE AT 2 pm 
     
    Oct. 3:  Lake City-CS @ Westside
                300 club @ Lake City- BGB
     
    Oct. 4:  Haile @ Lake City- CS
     
    Oct. 11: Westside @ 300 Club
                Lake City- BGB @ Haile
     
    Oct. 17:  Lake City- CS @ 300 Club
                  Haile @ Lake City- BGB
     
     
    Oct. 18:   300 Club @ Westside
     
     
    Oct. 24:   Westside @ Haile
                        Lake City-BGB @ Lake City-CS
     
     
    Oct. 25:    Westside @  Lake City- BGB
                        Lake City- CS@ Haile
     
     
    Oct. 31:     Haile @ 300 Club
     
     
    Nov. 1:      Lake City-BGB @ Westside
                       300 Club @  Lake City- CS
  • The Second Annual Bryan Shelton Celebration of Tennis

    A fundraiser to benefit GACTA’s Aces in Motion Tennis Outreach Program. 

    PURCHASE TICKETS

    Evening Celebration

    Friday August 21st, 2015

    Gainesville Woman’s Club

    6:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

    Live music by Gosia and Ali

    Food by Southern Charm Kitchen

    Silent Auction and Raffle

    Let’s Make a Racket!

    Saturday August 22nd, 2015

    DB Racquet Club

    9 a.m.- noon (check in 8:30 a.m.)

    Community Tennis Clinic

    Refreshments by Bagel Bakery and Mojo Hogtown Barb-b-que

    Buy Tickets

    Evening Celebration: $50

    Saturday Tennis $30

    Both Events: $75

    Saturday Spectator: $10

    CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE TICKETS

    For more information, please contact Addison Staples, Executive Director GACTA, at Addison@nullacesinmotion.org or call 352-514-9975

  • GACTA Middle School Tennis League Completes its Fifth Season

    By Anne Koterba

    This spring, the Gainesville Area Community Tennis Association (GACTA) sponsored the fifth season of its no-cut GACTA Middle School Tennis league, which provided 100 local middle school students, from beginner to advanced players, an opportunity to play tennis in a team format for their middle school. The season ran during the months of April and May following the high school tennis season. Volunteer parent-captains recruited middle school students from seven middle schools under the guidance of Anne Koterba, President of GACTA and coordinator of the middle school tennis program. Both public and private middle schools participated in the program. Local schools included: Jordan Glen, Oak Hall School, Westwood, Kanapaha, Lincoln, Fort Clarke, and Howard Bishop Middle Schools.

    As in the previous seasons, a two-day Middle School League Team Championship, with a similar format to the FHSAA District Tennis Championship format, with an emphasis on doubles, was held at the Jonesville Tennis Center. Jordan Glen School “four-peated” as Tournament Champion (22 points), and the Oak Hall School “four-peated” as Tournament Finalist (11 points). Lincoln Middle School finished a close third behind Oak Hall. When asked about the continuing dominance of the small, private, Jordan Glen School, Dave Porter, Director of Tennis at Jonesville Tennis Center and Jordan Glen parent, commented, “Jordan Glen has a well rounded curriculum with rigorous academics, and a strong focus on the arts and athletics. Students grow up playing multiple sports, developing their overall athleticism and confidence. The family-like atmosphere also fosters bonds among the kids on and off the court, which strengthens their teamwork.”

    The GACTA middle school tennis program is sustainable because the hard costs are covered by a modest participation fee ($55), local private and public tennis facilities generously provide teaching pros for practices and courts for matches, and parents provide a great deal of volunteer help. The participation fee also generates enough revenue to provide scholarships for students from low-income families, as well as support GACTA’s Aces in Motion tennis outreach program for at-risk youth.

    The no-cut feature of the program allows even true beginners, who may never have played tennis before, to experience match play, as GACTA volunteers go on court to help them with scoring and rules.

    “We really want the kids to have fun playing for their school, no matter what their level of experience”, said Addison Staples, Executive Director of GACTA. “That’s what this program is really about,” Koterba said. “We just want kids of all backgrounds realize how enjoyable the game of tennis can be, so they will want to go out and play. Although tennis can be an individual sport, we like to emphasize that it can be a great team sport as well, whether playing for your school’s team or playing as a doubles team.”

    This year, the Jonesville Tennis Center (JTC), Westside Tennis, Oak Hall School, and the Haile Plantation Golf and Country Club provided courts for match play for the middle school league, and all of these facilities, as well as the 300 Club, “adopted” teams for practices.

    For more information on GACTA’s programs, please see www.gainesvilletennis.org or go to Gainesville Tennis or Aces in Motion on Facebook.

    Fifth Season GACTA Middle School League

    Tournament Results

    Finals Main Draw:

    Flight 1: Colby Stewart/Leo Asch (JG) def Ethan Cockey/Eric Chen (LIN)                                       6-3

    Flight 2: Christian Mazpule/Nolan Louis (JG) def Stephanie Miller/Alden Laborde(OH)            6-2

    Flight 3: Dagney Kaye/Jadon Kennard (JG) def Mac LaBorde/Kate Pickens (OH)                        6-3

    Flight 4: James Donnelly/Isaac Kaye (JG) def Anna Liu/Mallory Tutton (LIN)                             6-1

    Flight 5: Liz Arnold/Sidney Washburn (JG) def Adel Acs/Katie Kerensky(OH)                             6-3

    Flight 6: Lincoln Weaver/Graham Shoemaker (JG) def Sydney Miller/Sophie Miller (OH)        6-0

    Flight 7: Graham Louis/Lotus Campbell (JG) def Graham Bernstein/Avery Bernstein (OH)      6-3

    Flight 8: Jaden Rosillo/Morgan Tooke (JG) def Davis Beck/Tahsin               Nabi                           6-0

    GACTA middle school tennis champs

    GACTA Middle School Tennis Tournament Champions

     

    GACTA middle school tennis finalists

    Oak Hall GACTA Middle School Tennis Tournament Finalists

    middle school tennis flight 1 winners

    Flight 1 Champions: Jordan Glen’s Colby and Leo

    middle school tennis flight 1 finalists

    Flight 1 Finalists: Lincoln’s Ethan and Eric