• Sun’s 2011 Tennis Players of the Year

    http://www.gainesville.com/article/20110604/ARTICLES/110609739

    By Cliff Olsen, Correspondent

    Published June 4th, 2011

    Zachary Goldberg and Jazz Whittaker

    2011 GAINESVILLE SUN BOYS TENNIS PLAYER OF THE YEAR

    ZACH GOLDBERG, GAINESVILLE

    Credentials

    The 5-foot-11 sophomore, who was part of Eastside’s team that reached state in 2010, was a major factor in Gainesville’s success this spring. Goldberg was 16-3 at No. 1 singles, which included a perfect record against area opponents, and won the District 4-3A title. He also grabbed the district crown at No. 1 doubles with Cole Fiegel and ended with a 17-3 mark. Goldberg’s exceptional season led the Hurricanes to their first district championship since 2007 and to their first trip to the FHSAA Class 3A state tournament since that year as well. At state, he lost his opening-round singles match, but was able to post a first-round victory with Fiegel in doubles action. Goldberg, who turned 17 on Saturday, is ranked 44th in the state in the boys under-18 rankings, according to the USTA’s June rankings.

    “In high school tennis, it is a team sport, it is not just the individual like I do outside of high school tennis,” said Goldberg, who was effective with his serve and his forehand this season. “The goal was not to get to state by myself, I would much rather go as a team.

    “I tried to lead the team as well as I could and be supportive and try and do my best to lead the team to victory in our matches. It was a great year.”

    Personal notes

    Goldberg has played the violin since he was four years old. He takes lessons every week and plays in the Gainesville Suzuki Players Hausmusik Orchestra.

    Quoteworthy

    “I felt very excited that I had won the award. It was a goal of mine to win this award, because to win the award, I had to compete well, have a good record and beat the other players in the area. I am very satisfied and grateful that I have gotten this award. It was a goal of mine so I am satisfied that I got it.” – Zach Goldberg

    2011 GAINESVILLE SUN GIRLS TENNIS PLAYER OF THE YEAR

    JAZZ WHITTAKER, P.K. YONGE

    Credentials

    For the fourth straight year, a P.K. Yonge player takes home this award. The 5-foot-11 Whittaker follows former Blue Wave star Lindsey Cable, a three-time winner of the award, who is now at Stetson. Whittaker posted a 14-4 record at No. 1 singles, which included winning the District 4-1A title, advancing to state as an individual and winning her opening-round match. The sophomore, who relies on her forehand and said she is comfortable playing at the net, teamed with Kiah Turner and the duo won the FHSAA Class 1A state title on the individual side of the doubles bracket. A year ago, the duo won the Class 1A state crown at No. 2 doubles. Whittaker is ranked 57th in the state in the girls under-16 rankings, according to the USTA’s June rankings.

    “I thought I had a pretty good year, especially for doubles,” Whittaker said. “I was hoping to get a little further at state (in singles). My goal for state was to come home with some kind of medal and get to the finals in doubles or singles.”

    Personal notes

    Whittaker, whose older sister Zari is a second-team all-area choice, also played volleyball for the Blue Wave last fall. She said she doesn’t see herself playing again because she said volleyball takes up a lot of time and she wants to focus more on tennis, which she’d like to play in college. Whittaker also owns a 4.23 weighted GPA.

    Quoteworthy

    “I was just really excited, winning this award was one of my goals and I was hoping that I would get it. I am just happy to represent my school and get my picture in the newspaper.” — Jazz Whittaker

  • Division Winners Crowned at the 2011 USTA Florida Jr. State Closed Singles Championships

    From USTA Florida,  June 16, 2011

    http://www.florida.usta.com/division_winners_crowned_at_the_2011_usta_florida_jr_state

    _closed_singles_championships111/

    Harry Cacciatore, State Champion B10, Dave Porter, and Grey Cacciatore, Winner Backdraw

    A morning rain delay gave way to sunny skies and high humidity on Thursday, the final day of play at the 63rd USTA Florida Jr. State Closed Singles Championships, held June 11-16, 2011, at the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach.

    Top-seeded Danielle Collins won the Girls’ 18 title, defeating No. 2 seed Chalena Scholl of Pompano Beach 6-1, 6-1. Collins also captured the 18s title two years ago, and was a 12s division champion. “I didn’t do well here last year,” said Collins, who earlier this year won the USTA National 18 Spring Hardcourts title. “I’ve been working on hitting the ball harder, and also getting a little more spin on the ball and hitting with a little more variety. I’ve been working out at Bollettieri’s a lot, so all the hard work is paying off.” The St. Petersburg native says she is considering a number of colleges, including Georgia, Miami, Florida, Northwestern and Tennessee among the leaders. “I’ll make some college visits and try to make a decision in August,” Collins said.

    In the Girls 16 final, now-three-time Jr. State Closed champ Katerina Stewart, the No. 4 seed from Miami, defeated Sarasota’s Caroline Dailey in straight sets. Last year Stewart played the 14s event and finished in fifth place, after previously winning the 12s and 10s events. Stewart, who hits excessive topspin like her idol Rafael Nadal, and displays a crafty court sense with angles and forays to the net, traded breaks with Dailey during a tight first set 6-4, before pulling away in the second set 6-0. “She came out strong the first set, I just had to stay focused and not get frustrated,” Stewart said. “In the second set I just did my plan and she went away. My plan was to make her move and hit it to her weaker side, which was her forehand.” Stewart earlier this year finished in second place at the Easter Bowl, and after her Jr. State Closed win on Thursday, celebrated with an order of french fries from the food truck at the Florida Tennis Center. The runner-up Dailey won the US Open Playoffs-Florida title approximately a month ago, and will advance to the national competition and a chance to win a US Open women’s qualifying draw wildcard. “I thought it was awesome,” said Dailey, who has been playing a mix of junior and pro events in 2011, of the US Open Playoffs event. “It was a really good tournament and I’m glad I played in it.”

    No. 4-seeded Madison Bourguignon of Boynton Beach won the all-Madison battle in the Girls’ 14 final, defeating No. 7 seed Madison Harrison of Cortez 6-1, 6-2 in the final. It was the first USTA Florida Jr. State Closed Singles event for Bourguignon, who moved to Florida last September from Washington state. “I thought I played well, she’s very aggressive so I had to play well,” Bourguignon said. “I was trying to keep it deep on the returns and get a high first serve percentage. I hadn’t really played on clay until I moved here, but since then I like it a lot.”

    In the Boys’ 18 final, No. 2 seed Brett Clark of Naples upset top-seeded Zack Mc Court of Sunrise 6-4, 7-6(6), fighting back from 1-5 down in the second-set tiebreak. “I was about to pass out in that second set,” said Clark, who took an early lead in both sets before fight-backs from McCourt. “In the second set I went up 5-3, kind of took a break — wanted to see if I could serve it out at 5-4 — couldn’t, and we held for 6-all. He didn’t really make an error until 5-1 in the tiebreak when he double-faulted twice. From that point on I just dug in deep, found a second gear and won the match.”  It was the first USTA Florida Jr. State Closed Singles title for Clark, who has competed at the event in every division (10s, 12s, 14s, 16s, and 18s). “I’m just so happy,” said Clark, breaking out in a smile. “I’ve never even made the semis here since I played the 10s (division) — this has not really been my best tournament, I’ve never played my best tennis here, but I’m glad (my win) was in the 18s.” Clark is coached in Naples by Mario Fratangelo, the father of friend and hitting partner Bjorn Fratangelo who won the 2011 French Open junior boys title.  “I haven’t been playing that well lately, I had to fix my forehand and backhand and serve recently, pretty much everything, and it has all come together,” Clark said. “Up until this tournament, I definitely liked hardcourt better, but now I’m switching to clay.” Only 17 years old, Clark says he looks forward to his final year at the event in 2012.

    The Boys’ 16 final was the battle of Bradenton as No. 3-seeded Ognjen Samardzic outlasted No. 4 seed Tommy Mylnikov  6-4, 6-7(6), 6-4 in a contentious match that saw both players receive code violations from the chair umpire. “At 4-2 in the third I was up but blew it, it got to 4-all and I played a clutch game, and won it in the end,” said Samardzic, who watched his opponent hit a second serve long to win the match. It was the seventh year competing at the event for Samardzic, who had never surpassed the semifinals in any division.

    In the Boys’ 14 final, No. 3 seed Chase Colton outlasted No. 2 Reilly Opelka 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 in the heat to claim the championship. Colton said the heat was oppressive, but the mental battle was the larger part of the match. “I was up 3-0, playing really well, I backed off and let him in, he started playing more aggressively and I lost the first set,” Colton said. “Second set started the same, went up 4-0, and I told myself to remain calm, keep my composure, try to take balls early, and I won that set. Third set I went down 0-2, didn’t want that to happen, then some more break points and I told myself to really focus, and I won 6-2. It was definitely more mental than the heat. Yesterday was hotter, I felt like I was going to throw up at 7-5, 5-4, 30-love. I just hit two big serves and got out of that match.” It was the first time Colton had achieved better than a third-place finish after six years of competing at the Jr. State Closed. “I’ve been having a great year, I won a Level 2 Nationals a month ago, I played extremely well there, I got to the quarterfinals of the super-national Easter Bowl, I’ve been having a good year so far, so it’s been just continuing to go up,” said Colton, who says he likes hardcourts and claycourts equally. “I don’t really care what surface it’s on, I like sliding — I slide on hardcourt too — it’s fun to play. I’d love to play on a grasscourt one day — I can’t wait for that day.”

    Wesley Chapel’s top-seeded Noah Makarome took home the Boys’ 12 title, easing past No. 3 seed Vasil Kirkov of Tampa 6-2, 6-2 in the final. Makarome similarly made easy work of No. 4 seed Evan Bynoe in the semifinals, beating the Parkland resident 6-1, 6-0.

    No. 3-seeded Harry Cacciatore, who with his twin brother Grey is a mainstay in taking home USTA Jr. Team Tennis titles for the City of Gainesville under the team name “G-Power,” defeated No. 4 seed Matthew Fung of Miami for the Boys’ 10 title. In the semifinals Cacciatore defeated top-seeded Harrison Gold of Aventura 6-3, 6-2.

    Hallandale Beach’s Amanda Anisimova won the Girls’ 10 title as the No. 2 seed, upsetting top-seeded Zoe Hitt of Miami in the final. Another Wesley Chapel resident won the Girls’ 12 title when No. 2 seed Jaeda Daniel defeated top-seeded Nicole Conrad of Boca Raton 6-3, 7-5. In the semifinals Daniel knocked out the No. 4 seed Melissa Plambeck of Bradenton in straight sets.

    Harry Cacciatore State Champion Boys 10 and Under and Matthew Fong, Finalist

  • Florida Women’s Tennis Defeats Stanford for Fifth NCAA Team Championship

    Tuesday, May 24, 2011

    Univ. of Florida Communications Office

    CONTACT: Kathy Cafazzo at 352-375-4683, ext. 6133

    Sophomore Lauren Embree (Marco Island, Fla.) rallied from a 4-0 deficit in the third set, forced a tiebreaker, where she overcame a 2-0 hole and earned a 5-7, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6) victory and provided the clinching 4-3 win against top-seeded Stanford and helped Florida win the 2011 NCAA Championship on Tuesday at Taube Tennis Stadium on the campus of Stanford University.

    The second-seeded Gators (31-1) earned their fifth national team title, while ending top-seeded Stanford’s (28-1) NCAA-record 184 consecutive home-match win streak and its 47-match overall win streak. Stanford has not lost at home since Feb. 27, 1999 in a 5-4 loss to Cal and had notdropped a decision since a lost at UCLA on Feb. 26, 2010.

    The title is the Florida athletics program 26th national team championship and second this season with the men’s track and field team winning the NCAA Indoor title. “I don’t know what it looked like on TV or in the stands, that took about 10 years off my life,” said head coach Roland Thornqvist, who guided the Gators to his second national championship in his 10-year tenure at UF. “We played phenomenal doubles that really set the tone. Today we really found out how Stanford has a 10-year winning streak. It’s really difficult to win here. It took a gutsy performance and everything we had to push us through to victory. Thankfully

    “We knew this was going to be very difficult,” Thornqvist said. “Playing in front of 2,000 fans screaming against you, it was tough. Our freshmen were outstanding this week. That proved to be the difference. Alex Cercone went 4-0 this week and that’s tough to do.”

    Thornqvist also led the Gators to the 2003 NCAA title played in Gainesville. “My first one, it was just my second year at Florida and my head was still spinning,” Thornqvist shared. “I was just so excited to be at Florida, I don’t know if I enjoyed it that much. This one is certainly very special. To be able to do it here at Stanford in front of 2,000 hostile fans with probably the hardest-working team I’ve ever had is very, very rewarding.”

    On Tuesday, the Gators won the doubles point with impressive play at all three positions and took a 1-0 team lead. The Cardinal quickly regrouped on the singles court, where the hosts jumped out and won the first set on five of the six courts. Stanford senior and third-ranked Hilary Barte was the first to finish, as she defeated Gator sophomore and seventh-ranked Allie Will (Boca Raton, Fla.), 6-2, 6-4, and evened the team scoring at 1-all. The loss snapped Will’s 15-match win streak and marked only her second dual match singles loss this season. There were seven breaks in the second set, and Barte managed the last to break Will in the final game to take the straight-set decision.

    Stanford then took a 2-1 lead when 18th-ranked Nicole Gibbs defeated 91st-ranked Sofie Oyen, 6-4, 7-5 on court three. The Gator rookie had a break for 4-3 in the second set, but Gibbs broke and held for a 5-4 lead. Oyen held, as did Gibbs, but the Cardinal earned one final break to win the match. Alex Cercone (Seminole, Fla.) provided the Gators with a singles victory, as she rallied for a 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 win against Veroncia Li and her 14th consecutive decision. The win, which closed the gap to 3-2 in the team score, was her team-best 37th singles victory. Cercone opened the final set with a break and held for a 2-0 lead. Li broke and held before Cercone also held and the set was even at 3-all. Cercone collected another break and aced on game point to a 5-3 lead. The then broke again and held for the win. Cercone has won her singles match in the last five NCAA matches, the only Gator to do so.

    Stanford then put itself one step closer to the title, when Stacey Tan found a way to take out Gator captain Joanna Mather (Duluth, Ga.), 3-6, 6-2, 6-4, on court four and take a 3-1 lead I the team score.The attention then turned to court two, where Lauren Embree was battling 22nd-ranked Mallory Burdette and hero of last year’s 4-3 Stanford win, as well as a vocal and hostile Cardinal crowd. Embree trailed 4-0 in the third set, before ripping off the next four games to even the frame and headed to the baseline to serve, where she lost just one point to take a miraculous 5-4 lead.

    While the hoards of fans moved to the stadium courts to watch what it felt would be the clinching decision with Burdette’s large lead, Olivia Janowicz (Palm Bay, Fla.) was quietly leading her third set against Carolyn McVeigh, 5-0. Embree then drew up double-match point against Burdette’s serve, but couldn’t finish either, as the Cardinal won four straight points to win the game and keep the match alive. Embree then lost just one point on her serve for a 6-5 lead. She then won the first two points of Burdette’s service game, as Janowicz drew up double-match point on court six. Burdette rallied to win the next three points, with the third clipping the net-cord and falling into open space and later the fourth point to force a tiebreak. At the start of the tiebreak, Janowicz polished off her 6-7, 6-3, 6-1 victory and tied the team match at 3-all. The win was the Gator rookie’s 19th consecutive victory. “This is honestly better than anything I could have ever dreamed,” said Janowicz of winning the national championship. “I don’t even know how to describe how I’m feeling.”

    Embree fell behind 2-0 in the tiebreak but won four straight points and took control. Burdette held her next serve for 4-3 and then evened the match at 4-all. Embree won the next two and set up double-match point, but Burdette fought off both and tied the breaker at 6-all. Embree then dug deep and won the next two points for the 5-7, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6) victory and the championship. Embree actually jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the first set, but Burdette ripped off the next six games and whipped the Stanford crowd into a frenzy, as it propelled her to a 3-1 lead in the second behind a pair of breaks. Embree calmed and wore down the hard-hitting Cardinal and she broke in the seventh game en route to taking the second set and forcing a third. “It was so up and down,” Embree shared about her match. “I got off to a really good start. Mallory just started to play better and better as the match went on. In the second set I knew if I hung in there and could get a break and that’s what happened. I got off to a really slow start in the third. Honestly, I really just wanted to stay out there and fight for my team. Joanna (Mather) was down a set and 5-0 (in Monday’s NCAA Semifinal match) and I knew that if she could do it, I could do it. I wanted to fight as long as I could and I came out with the win. “I had different thoughts racing through my mind when I was down 4-0 in the third,” Embree shared. “I kept fighting. I knew I still had a chance no matter what the score was.”

    Embree, who was named the NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Performer, completed the dual match portion of the season with a perfect 24-0 singles record, as she will continue action on Wednesday in the first round of the NCAA Singles Championships.

    “Lauren is one of the players who you can always depend on,” Cercone said. “Sometimes you don’t want to depend on a player and put pressure on anybody, but it came down to that today. We knew, I knew that Lauren was going to pull it out because the heart that she has. I had incredible faith in her and I’m proud that she did what she did today.”

    Florida was very impressive on the doubles court, where all three teams earned early breaks and held comfortable leads throughout play. The Gator’s number two team of Lauren Embree (Marco Island, Fla.) and Sofie Oyen (Leopoldsburg, Belgium) continued its quick work as it provided the first win of the championship with an 8-3 victory against Nicole Gibbs and Veronica Li in 37 minutes. Embree and Oyen capped their inaugural season together with a 9-0 record, netting a win in each of the last five NCAA matches for the Gators. Florida’s number three tandem of Caroline Hitimana (Waterloo, Belgium) and Joanna Mather (Duluth, Ga.) provided the clinching doubles point for the third consecutive match, this time downing Carolyn McVeigh and Stacey Tan, 8-3. The pair had not played together since November, but reunited in the NCAA Quarterfinal round and has been a key to Florida’s doubles success at the championship site. Alex Cercone (Seminole, Fla.) and Allie Will (Boca Raton, Fla.) were leading their match against Hilary Barte and Mallory Burdette when play was abandoned.

    Florida also won the doubles point at last year’s NCAA Final, before the Cardinal rallied to collect four singles victories en route to the 4-3 decision. The Gators had not lost a dual match this year when winning the doubles point.

    The 2011 event marked the eighth time Florida and Stanford squared off in the NCAA Final, with the Cardinal winning five of those matches and the Gators capturing the title in 1996, 2003 and now 2011.Florida, which ended the year on a 21-match winning streak, posted the 875th win in the program’s 39th season of varsity action, taking the all-time record to an impressive 875-128.

    2011 NCAA Women’s All-Tournament Team

    Most Outstanding Player: Lauren Embree, FLORIDA

    No. 1 Singles: Hilary Barte, Stanford

    No. 2 Singles: Lauren Embree, FLORIDA

    No. 3 Singles: Nicole Gibbs, Stanford

    No. 4 Singles: Jelena Staivuk, Baylor

    No. 5 Singles: Alex Cercone, FLORIDA

    No. 6 Singles: Carolyn McVeigh, Stanford

    No. 1 Doubles: Hilary Barte/Mallory Burdette, Stanford

    No. 2 Doubles: Lauren Embree/Sofie Oyen, FLORIDA

    No. 3 Doubles: Diana Nakic/Sona Novakova, Baylor

    NCAA Women’s Tennis Championships Final

    Doubles (ranking)

    1. (2) Alex Cercone/Allie Will, UF led (3) Hilary Barte/Mallory Burdette, SU, 6-3 DNF

    2. (45) Lauren Embree/Sofie Oyen, UF d. Nicole Gibbs/Veronica Li, SU, 8-3

    3. (37) Caroline Hitimana/Joanna Mather, UF d. (74) Carolyn

    McVeigh/Stacey Tan, SU, 8-3*

    Order of Finish: 2, 3*

    Singles

    1. (3) Hilary Barte, SU d. (7) Allie Will, UF, 6-2, 6-4

    2. (17) Lauren Embree, UF d. (22) Mallory Burdette, SU, 5-7, 6-3, 7-6(6)*

    3. (18) Nicole Gibbs, SU d. (91) Sofie Oyen, UF, 6-4, 7-5

    4. (43) Stacey Tan, SU d. (42) Joanna Mather, UF, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4

    5. (54) Alex Cercone, UF d. Veroncia Li, SU, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4

    6. (53) Olivia Janowicz, UF d. Carolyn McVeigh, SU, 6-7 (6), 6-3, 6-1

    Order of Finish: 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 2*

    Updated records: Florida 31-1, Stanford 28-1

    For all of the latest information on Florida Women’s Tennis please

    log on to www.gatorzone.com/tennis/women or follow the team on Twitter

    at www.twitter.com/GatorZoneTennis.

  • UF Men’s Tennis Regional NCAA Recap

    By Mike Hoctor

    The Gators were a bit rusty after a three week hiatus between matches. But when they took the courts on Friday to begin the Gainesville Regional of the NCAA Division 1 National Championship Tournament, the team came to life very quickly against first round foe South Carolina State. The MEAC champion Bulldogs were no match for the seventh seeded Gators. The doubles point was quickly won in 50 minutes by number one doubles team Alex Lacroix and Sekou Bangoura, as well as number two doubles team Nassim Slilam and Billy Federhofer. When the doubles point was clinched, the number three doubles team of Bob Van Oberbeek and Andrew Butz were ahead 7-4, as the match was terminated.

    In singles, the Gators made short work of South Carolina State. Number six singles player Spencer Newman overwhelmed his South Carolina State counterpart, 6-1, 6-1. Nassim Slilam, elevated to the number two singles slot, followed suit with a 6-1, 6-3 victory. The match clincher was applied by Sekou Bangoura 6-2, 6-1. The other three singles matches involving Gators Alex Lacroix, Bob Van Oberbeek, and Billy Federhofer were stopped, with the Gator singles players comfortably ahead. The team win meant the Gators would now move from the round of 64, in the tournament, to the round of 32, to face instate nemesis Miami on Saturday afternoon.

    Saturday’s play begin in the women’s bracket of the Gainesville regional innocently enough, however the weather changed abruptly bringing rain delays that totaled six plus hours. Once the two women’s matches had been completed around 9:00 PM Saturday evening, the Gators and Canes took the court to try and play. Under the lights, the Gators came out firing on all doubles cylinders. The number two doubles team of Nassim Slilam and Billy Federhofer controlled play throughout their doubles pro set, pulling away from Blocker and Chin of Miami for an 8-2 victory. At number one doubles, Alex Lacroix and Sekou Bangoura were equally efficient and demolished Miami’s Crowley and Aly 8-2. With the doubles point in hand, the number three doubles match involving Bob Van Oberbeek and Andrew Butz, was stopped on serve with Miami’s Ast and Pavia leading 7-6.

    In the locker room, there was little reason to remind the Gator team, that two years ago, this Miami team cut the heart out of the Gators in the NCAA Regional Final. During that match, the Gators had also won the doubles point, and needed to split the singles matches in order to win. However the Canes came back from losing the doubles point, to overcome the 2008-09 Gators and beat them in Gainesville 4-3. In looking around the locker room, Saturday evening at each player, it was more then apparent that this team was not about to let this scenario occur in 2011.

    As the clock moved past ten PM Saturday evening, on each of the six singles courts, the Gator players surged ahead. But mother nature was not going to let this play out Saturday, as the rains once again came in and postponed the Gator tennis freight train for the evening. At 10:45 PM the tournament officials decided play would resume Sunday morning at 10:30 AM. Once again in the locker room, the team was reminded that in order to complete this mission and advance to the Sweet Sixteen in Palo Alto, each player would have to remain focused and not let this over night delay distract them.

    The team came back Sunday morning, just as the coaches hoped, ready to complete the task of defeating a pesky Miami team. Nassim Slilam, at two singles, continued his impressive play and never gave his Miami opponent, senior Christian Blocker, a chance to get into the match. After a 6-2 first set victory, Nas never took his foot off the gas pedal, and disposed of Blocker with another 6-2 second set victory for the win.

    Senior Alex Lacroix, playing his last match at the Linder Tennis Stadium in Gainesville, went out with a bang! Alex competing as hard as he always does, intimidated Miami senior Keith Crowley with his intensity and shot making. Alex sprinted to a 6-1, 6-1 victory, capping a tremendous four year run at home. With the win, Alex became the all time total wins record holder. Alex passed former Gator letterman Justin O’Neal’s 208 total victories, with his 209th total win. Alex now goes down in Gator Men’s Tennis lore, as the all time winningest player. What else can you say about a player that epitomizes all that is good in a Gator student athlete!

    The clincher for Florida came from court six. Miami native, Spencer Newman, was on his own mission. After beating Miami’s Pedro Ast 6-0 in the first set, Spencer could smell the finish line for himself and this Gator team. A team that had now experienced the lows of multiple 3-4 defeats, only to grow in stature and experience and win the SEC Tournament title three weeks previously, was on the brink of the biggest victory of the season. A win that would send this NCAA National Tournament seventh seeded Gators to the promised land of collegiate tennis in Palo Alto, for the Sweet Sixteen and beyond. Spencer forged ahead in the second set, but Ast was not finished and gamely fought off defeat to extend the set to 5-4 in Spencer’s favor. Spencer worked his way through multiple match points and pulled out this Gator victory 6-4, ending the match and once again sending this Gator Men’s Tennis Team into instantaneous celebration mode. Sekou Bangoura, Bob Van Overbeek, and Billy Federhofer singles matches did not need to be finished, once Spencer clinched team victory for the Gators. Every Gator player dropped their racket and quickly joined Spencer Newman to drink in this accomplishment. The 4-0 team victory over Miami avenged that day two years previously, and more importantly propelled the Gator team into the Sweet Sixteen.

    Only once in the ten year Andy Jackson era, at Florida, had one of his team’s not experienced the Sweet Sixteen. This is a legacy of success that is impressive. One of this year’s team goals was quite obviously reaching the third round of NCAA championship play. However this year, the team is not satisfied with just getting to the round of sixteen in the NCAA tournament. This team has gained enormous amounts of self confidence over the past month. The 2011 Gator’s Men’s Tennis Team is flying to Palo Alto, California Monday with one thing in mind. Winning the National Championship. There will be fifteen other teams at Stanford starting Thursday with the same goals. The difference is that this Gator team now knows they are capable of beating anyone in the championship field. The next step occurs Thursday, May 19th at 3:00 PM Pacific Time, against SEC rival Kentucky. Both teams know each other so very well, and have split two previous meetings in Gainesville this year. The team that believes in itself, and handles the peripheral atmosphere of a championship site, will emerge victorious. We believe to a man that that team will be your Florida Gators! Thank you for your tremendous support this past weekend, during regional play, and all season. This team is a group all of you can be extremely proud of, as they first learned to crawl competitively this year, and then sprang upright and walked, and now we are ready to make a run at the ultimate championship! Go Gators!

    Mike Hoctor
    University of Florida Tennis



  • Junior Team Tennis Summer 2011 Season

    It is time to start planning for the summer season of Junior Team Tennis.

    Here are some important dates:

    5/11                       Team numbers will be issued by and registration will begin.

    5/25                       Deadline to have at least 4 players on team roster. Teams should try to have 6-8 players on their rosters.

    6/4                         Match play will begin

    6/14                        Deadline for player registration for the summer JTT season.

    7/22 – 7/24         12& under and 10& under sectional championship (Daytona Beach)

    7/29 – 7/31         14& under and 18& under sectional championship (Daytona Beach)

    Those of you with teams in the 14U and 18U intermediate or advanced divisions who want to be eligible for the national championship need to be aware of the rules for the summer championship division.

    There are a few changes that have been made to the program. First, the fee will be $30.00 instead of $35.00. The Nike dri-fit team shirt has been replaced with a regular t-shirt—it’s white with colorful tennis balls on the front. The shirt size will not be captured during online registration. I’ll have to gather this information from team captain. We can print team names on the back of the shirt—so pick a name early if you plan to do so!

    For more information, please contact Linda Green at:

    Linda G. Green
    USTA Florida Jr. Team Tennis

    Local League Coordinator

    Region 2 (Alachua County)

    jrteamtennis@nullcox.net

    www.ustaflorida.com

    352-870-6134

  • Columbia Girls Tennis Returns to State

    By Cliff Olsen, Sun Correspondent

    http://www.gainesville.com/article/20110414/ARTICLES/110419664/1047/sports01?p=2&tc=pg

    Published April 14th, 2011

    When the ball bounced into the other side of the net, Columbia tennis player Kelsey Mercer said that she felt more relief than she could ever explain

    The clutch win by the senior brought an end to the match that lasted just over four hours, and more importantly clinched Columbia’s second-straight berth in the FHSAA Class 3A state tournament.

    “I knew I was the deciding match and I was trying to push that out of my head and play my game,” said Mercer, who defeated Brianna Harper 7-6, 6-2. “Just knowing that I finally got that last set under my belt and everything was finished, it was the best feeling ever.”

    Following the Tigers’ third dual-match win over the Hurricanes (6-8) this season, Columbia coach Tabatha McMahon and Mercer each received a water cooler shower.

    “It was grueling, it was surreal, it was unbelievable and awesome,” McMahon said. “These girls have taken me for an incredible ride for the last three years, and I am just so excited.”

    Madison Parenti started the match off for GHS, with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Heather Benson at No. 5 singles. But Columbia’s No. 1 doubles team of Chrissie Reichert and Susy Romero posted a 6-4, 6-0 victory over Eve Sampson and Callie Lajza that tied the match at 1-1. Mercer and Taylor Owens then won at No. 2 doubles before Romero cruised past Lajza at No. 2 singles to give the Tigers (13-2) a 3-1 cushion.

    But Sarah Lima blanked Jessie Bates at No. 4 singles, and Sampson followed with a straight-set win over Reichert at No. 1 singles to even the team score at 3-3.

    With the focus shifted to the deciding match, Mercer pulled out the first set, 7-6, by winning the tiebreaker 7-2. She then trailed Harper, a junior, 2-1 in the second set before ripping off the next five games.

    On match point, Harper’s return of a Mercer forehand was short and into the net and concluded the long afternoon.

    Despite the loss, Sampson will represent GHS at next week’s state tournament in Altamonte Springs, by virtue of her district title at No. 1 singles last week.

    The Hurricanes were looking to reach state as a team for the first time since 2007.

    “It was pretty amazing,” McMahon said. “(The water cooler shower) was icy cold and was a sharp realization that we get to go to state again.”

  • GHS boys, Columbia Girls Capture District Crowns

    By Cliff Olsen
    Correspondent

    http://www.gainesville.com/article/20110407/ARTICLES/110409591

    Published April 7th, 2011

    The Gainesville boys tennis team took home its first district title since 2007 on Thursday, while the Columbia girls tennis team claimed its second straight district District 4-3A crown.

    The Eastside boys squad and the GHS girls club each finished as district runners-up at the two-day event held on the clay courts of the Jonesville Tennis Center.

    The Hurricanes, which held a slight two-point lead heading into the doubles final, clinched the team-title as Zach Goldberg and Cole Fiegel knocked off Eastside’s Frazier Springfield and John Yoo, 6-1, 6-4 at No. 1 doubles. GHS, which won the first three singles positions and both doubles positions, edged Eastside 19-16 to top the eight-team field.

    “It was tough, but it feels great,” said GHS boys coach Paul Spradling, who guided the Hurricanes to a pair of state titles in the late 1990s. “The kids worked hard and we played a tough schedule, and I think it helped us today. I am real proud of them.”

    Goldberg, who helped Eastside to a district title and a state tournament berth a year ago, did not drop a game in his straight-set win over Springfield at No. 1 singles. With the win, the sophomore earned an individual berth to the Class 3A state tournament. Goldberg and Fiegel, The Sun’s 2010 player of the year, also claimed a state tournament berth with their title at No. 1 doubles.

    Fiegel titled at No. 2 singles, while freshman Peter Slaton won at No. 3 singles and teamed with Justin Zambelli to win at No. 2 doubles. The Hurricanes will host a first-round regional match on Tuesday. John Yoo won at No. 4 singles and Austin Gillette won at No. 5 singles for the Rams, who will travel for the opening round.

    On the girls side, Susy Romero and Kelsey Mercer each titled at No. 2 and No. 3 singles respectively to lead Columbia, which made its first state tournament appearance a year ago. Romero and Chrissie Reichert cruised to the No. 1 doubles title and secured a state tournament berth. Mercer and Taylor Owens also won at No. 2 doubles for the Tigers, who will be at home to open the regional playoffs.

    “It was very important. That was their No. 1 goal when we started off this season. They said they wanted to go back-to-back,” said Columbia coach Tabatha McMahon, whose club topped GHS by three points. “I am proud. It is all about the girls. They were the ones who wanted it so much.”

    At No. 1 singles, Eve Sampson of GHS outlasted Reichert, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in a match that lasted just over two hours. Sampson earned the individual state tournament berth. Sara Lima won the No. 4 singles title for the Hurricanes, who will be on the road Tuesday for their first regional playoff match since 2008. Eastside’s Tatyana Mann took home a district title at No. 5 singles.

    Peter Slaton. Photo by Doug Finger

  • GHS Boys Tennis Beats Rams to Secure State Trip

    By Larry Savage, Gainesville Sun Staff Writer

    http://www.gainesville.com/article/20110414/ARTICLES/110419665/1047/sports01?Title=GHS-boys-tennis-beats-Rams-to-secure-state-trip

    Published April 15th, 2011

    Peter Slaton. Photo by Sun Photographer Erica Brough

    For the first time since 2007, Gainesville High is heading back to the state tournament in boys tennis.

    e Class 3A, Region 2 second round at Jonesville Tennis Center. Gainesville, which has won four state titles in boys tennis, will go after No. 5 beginning Monday at Sanlando Park in Altamonte Springs.

    It was the fourth time Gainesville (11-7) faced the Rams this season, twice during the regular season and twice in the postseason (district and regional). Each time the Hurricanes came out on top.

    Gainesville, which swept St. Augustine 7-0 in Tuesday’s regional first round, won both doubles matches to open Thursday’s match. The Hurricanes’ No. 1 team of Zach Goldberg and Cole Fiegel won convincingly, 6-0, 6-2, over Eastside’s Frazier Springfield and John Yoo. But the No. 2 doubles match ended up being the match of the day.

    The Hurricanes’ Peter Slaton and Justin Zambelli outlasted the Rams’ twin-brother team of Tony and Tim Louthan, 6-4, 1-6, 6-2, to grab an early 2-0 team lead.

    “That was huge for us,” said longtime GHS coach Paul Spradling, who led the team to state titles in 1996 and 1998, and runner-up finishes in 1995, 1997, 1999 and 2005. “Peter and Justin really hung in there. Even when they lost the second set 1-6, they could have given up, but they didn’t. They out-battled them and won it. That was important for us. After that, all we needed was two singles victories to clinch it.”

    The ’Canes did more than that.

    Gainesville’s top three players — Goldberg, Fiegel and Slaton — all won in straight sets. Zambelli, who had been 0-2 against Eastside’s Austin Gillette this season going into Thursday, won convincingly, 6-2, 6-1.

    “Those first two matches were big for GHS,” said Rams co-coach Donny Reder, whose team finished its season at 9-6. “We thought we could battle with them, but they came out and took it to us. I was proud of the way our guys played. They really played hard, but Gainesville is really playing well right now.”

    Yoo picked up Eastside’s only win of the day at No. 4 singles.

    This will be Goldberg and Fiegel’s second straight year going to the state tournament.

    Last year, Goldberg was on Eastside’s regional champion team, which topped GHS. Fiegel qualified individually for the Hurricanes.

    “It’s great going to state with the whole team,” said Fiegel, the 2010 Gainesville Sun’s Player of the Year. “Last year I made it on my own, but this time everyone is going, which is cool. It’s a lot more fun going with the team.”

  • P.K. Yonge Tennis Ousted in 1st Round of Regionals

    By Cliff Olsen, Sun Correspondent

    http://www.gainesville.com/article/20110412/ARTICLES/110419818/1047/sports01?Title=P-K-Yonge-tennis-ousted-in-1st-round-of-regionals

    Published April 12th, 2011

    Jazz Whittaker

    The P.K. Yonge girls tennis team got off to a good start against Jacksonville Trinity Christian in Tuesday’s Class 1A, Region 2 first-round match at The Joyce Oransky Tennis Center at Westside Park.

    The Blue Wave opened with easy wins at No. 1 and No. 2 singles for the early lead.

    However, the Conquerors responded to take four of the final five matches to post a 4-3 victory and end the Blue Wave’s season.

    “The start is what I expected, but I definitely did not think things were going to transpire this way,” P.K. Yonge coach Robert Taylor said. “My hat is off to Trinity Christian. They played a great match and they picked up the wins they needed to in a close contest.”

    Jazz Whittaker rolled Julia Jackson, 6-1, 6-0 at No. 1 singles and Kiah Turner followed with an equally convincing 6-0, 6-1 win over Kathryn Jackson at No. 2 singles. At that point, the Blue Wave were enjoying the 2-0 cushion. That was before Trinity Christian’s Gracie Carryl got by seventh-grader Darby Townsend 6-3, 6-3 at No. 5 singles. Samantha Powell followed by defeating sixth-grader Madison Sagas, 6-1, 7-5 at No. 4 singles to deadlock the match.

    Jazz Whittaker and Turner then needed just 24 minutes to knock off the Jackson sisters, 8-2 at No. 1 doubles for the 3-2 edge.

    P.K. Yonge, which topped Trinity Christian in the first round in 2009 and in the second round a year ago, finished the season at 9-5. The Conquerors advance to Thursday’s second-round match.

    But the momentum swung in favor of the Conquerors (11-2), when Danielle Powell outlasted Zari Whittaker, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 at No. 3 singles. The Powell sisters then downed Zari Whittaker and Sagas, 8-5 at No. 2 doubles to clinch the match for Trinity Christian.

    This was the fourth straight year the Blue Wave have reached the regional tournament and the first time in that span they did not advance to the second round. A year ago, P.K. Yonge advanced to the state finals for the first time since 1994 and placed fourth. Despite Tuesday’s setback, Jazz Whittaker, by winning a district title last week, earned an individual berth to the state tournament. Jazz Whittaker and Turner, state champs at No. 2 doubles a year ago, are also advancing to state by virtue of their district title.

    “I was disappointed,” Taylor said. “I thought on paper, I felt like we had the advantage, but today it didn’t work out.

    “We needed a little more experience at the back end of our lineup and in the next couple of years that will get better.”

  • Regional tennis : Eastside Boys Set Up Rematch with GHS

    By Cliff Olsen
    Correspondent

    http://www.gainesville.com/article/20110413/ARTICLES/110419746/1047/sports01?Title=Regional-tennis-Eastside-boys-set-up-rematch-with-GHS

    Published April 13th, 2011

    The Eastside boys tennis team is now one step away from returning to the FHSAA Class 3A state tournament for the second straight season.

    The Rams traveled to Jacksonville and knocked off Wolfson, 5-2, in a Class 3A, Region 2 first round match on Wednesday afternoon.

    Since rain pushed its opening-round match back a day, Eastside now has a quick turnaround as it will play city and district rival Gainesville in a second-round match today at the Jonesville Tennis Center at 3:30 p.m. GHS swept both regular season meetings with Eastside and also topped the Rams to win last week’s District 4-3A title.

    “I’m pretty happy. Overall the team pulled through,” said Eastside co-coach Dave Porter. “This is our fourth time playing GHS. I think our guys are going to be extremely motivated.”

    After losing at No. 1 and No. 2 singles on Wednesday, Tim Louthan and John Yoo each picked up a straight-set win for the Rams (9-5) at No. 3 and No. 4 singles respectively. Austin Gillette won at No. 5 singles, while Frazier Springfield and Yoo won at No. 1 doubles with Tony and Tim Louthan posting a victory at No. 2 doubles.

    Port Orange Spruce Creek 7, Buchholz 0: The Hawks continued their postseason dominance over the Bobcats in a Class 4A, Region 1 first round match on Wednesday. It was the seventh time in the last nine years that Spruce Creek has knocked off Buchholz (8-6) in the regional playoffs.

    “I think the team was outplayed,” Buchholz coach Johnny Johnston said. “They were more mentally prepared than our guys were and they were more match-play ready than my team.”