• P.K. Yonge’s Whittaker Captures Team Side State Title 2012

    http://www.gainesville.com/article/20120419/ARTICLES/120419480

    By Cliff Olsen
    Correspondent
    Published: Thursday, April 19, 2012 at 10:09 p.m.

    For the third straight year, P.K. Yonge’s Jazz Whittaker has flourished at the FHSAA Class 1A state tennis tournament.

    On Thursday at Red Bug Lake Park in Casselberry, the 6-foot junior captured the state title on the team side of the bracket at No. 1 singles.

    Whittaker, The Sun’s 2011 player of the year, got by Jacquelyn Fitz-Randolph of Tampa Carrollwood Day, 7-6 (7-2), 6-1 in the finals. She will now face Delray Beach American Heritage’s Rasheeda McAdoo, the winner on the individual side of the draw, for the overall state title today at 8 a.m. McAdoo is the daughter of former NBA MVP Bob McAdoo, who is currently an assistant coach for the Miami Heat.

    “I am really amazed that she is able to bring her game up another level and handle all the pressure around her in the final,” P.K. Yonge coach Robert Taylor said. “She has been able to be more consistent than any of the other girls out there.”

    A year ago, Whittaker teamed with Kiah Turner and the duo won the Class 1A state title on the individual side of the doubles bracket. In 2010, the pair won the state title at No. 2 doubles.

    As for the team, the Blue Wave, making their second state tournament appearance in three years, placed third out of eight teams with six points. P.K. Yonge’s No. 2 doubles team of Turner and Marcela Ifju lost in the semifinals on Thursday.

    “I was super happy with the whole tournament that we were able to get a couple of quality wins here and there,” said Taylor, who is expected to return everyone from this year’s squad. “It is a great starting point for the future.”

    The Gainesville High boys team placed third in the Class 3A state tournament at Sanlando Park in Altamonte Springs. Peter Slaton led the Hurricanes as the sophomore won a state championship at No. 3 singles. Slaton rallied to knock off Paul Johnson of Naples Barron Collier 0-6, 6-4, 7-5. Zach Goldberg, The Sun’s 2011 player of the year, lost to Arsav Mahonty of Bradenton Lakewood Ranch 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) in the final at No. 2 singles. Cole Fiegel and Goldberg lost in the semifinals at No. 1 doubles, while Slaton and Justin Zambelli bowed out in the semifinals at No. 2 doubles.

    The Hurricanes, who were sixth out of eight teams at state a year ago, finished third this time around.

    “The kids did a great job this year,” said GHS coach Paul Spradling, who guided the Hurricanes to the Class 5A state title in 1996 and to a share of the championship 1998. “I am disappointed that we didn’t win it all, but we came within one point of being the state runner-up, and with a few breaks could have won it all. It was a great year.”

  • 2012 Sun All Area Boys and Girls Tennis Teams

    http://www.gainesville.com/article/20120601/ARTICLES/120609921

    By Cliff Olsen
    Correspondent
    Published: Friday, June 1, 2012 at 11:00 p.m.

    Note: This is the second in a series of The Sun’s spring sports all-area athletes of the year, selected with the help of coaches.

    SUN ALL-AREA BOYS TENNIS TEAM

    First team

    Zach Goldberg, Gainesville, junior: Claimed the District 5-3A title and was the state runner up at No. 2 singles with a 20-1 record. Was also 16-3 and a district champion and a state semifinalist at No. 1 doubles with Cole Fiegel.

    Cole Fiegel, Gainesville, junior: The lefty finished 16-3 and won the District 5-3A crown at No. 1 singles. Was also 16-3 and a district champion and a state semifinalist at No. 1 doubles with Zach Goldberg.

    Erik Vincek, Buchholz, senior: Posted an 16-2 record for the district champion Bobcats; claimed the District 1-4A crown at No. 1 singles and advanced to the Class 4A state tournament semifinals as an individual.

    Frazier Springfield, Eastside, senior: Ended with a 10-5 record at District 5-2A championship at No. 1 singles, and was 10-5 at No. 1 doubles with Jon Yoo as the Rams reached the state tournament for the second time in three years.

    Alex Vlasak, Buchholz, senior: Was 12-3 and the District 1-4A champion at No. 2 singles and advanced to the Class 4A state tournament semifinals with Erik Vincek at No. 1 doubles (14-2).

    Peter Slaton, Gainesville, sophomore: Turned in a perfect 16-0 record and won the District 4-3A title before claiming the state championship at No. 3 singles.

    Second team

    Camille Kima, Eastside, freshman: Was 11-5 and won the District 5-2A crown at No. 2 singles and was 10-5 and a district champ at No. 2 doubles as the Rams qualified for state as a team.

    Andrew Irani, Buchholz, freshman: Posted a 11-5 record at No. 3 singles for the district champion Bobcats.

    Derek Li, Eastside, freshman: Finished with a 13-2 record at No. 4 singles for the district champion Rams, who placed sixth as a team at the Class 2A state tournament.

    Harrison Thibault, Oak Hall, freshman: Despite a 4-10 record, he claimed the District 4-1A title at No. 1 singles to clinch a Class 1A state tournament berth; also qualified for state at No. 1 doubles with Apurv Suman.

    Jon Yoo, Eastside, senior: Turned in a 13-2 record to win the District 5-2A crown at No. 3 singles and was 10-5 at No. 1 doubles with Frazier Springfield as the Rams reached the state tournament for the second time in three years.

    Peyton Nimmons, Buchholz, sophomore: Was 11-5 at No. 4 singles for the district champion Bobcats.

    Honorable mention

    Max Curtis, Eastside, sophomore; Jacob Gordon, Gainesville, sophomore; Justin Zambelli, Gainesville, senior; Padrick O’Brien, Keystone Heights, senior; Jared Velazquez, Keystone Heights, freshman; D.J. Mayer, Keystone Heights, freshman;

    Apurv Suman, Oak Hall, senior; Nick Gallman, Santa Fe, junior.

    Coach of the Year

    Paul Spradling, Gainesville

    The veteran coach guided the Hurricanes to an 14-2 record, which included winning the District 5-3A title, for its second straight district crown. GHS also breezed through both of its regional playoff matches and clinched its second consecutive trip to the FHSAA Class 3A state tournament. The ‘Canes ended up finishing third out of eight teams at state. Peter Slaton claimed the state title at No. 3 singles to highlight GHS’ trip to Sanlando Park in Altamonte Springs. Spradling, who takes home this award for the second consecutive year, also led GHS to the Class 5A state title in 1996 and to a share of the state championship 1998.

    SUN ALL-AREA GIRLS TENNIS TEAM

    First team

    Jazz Whittaker, P.K. Yonge, junior: Posted a 14-1 record singles record, claimed the District 4-1A crown at No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles and qualified for state; captured the FHSAA Class 1A state title on the team side of the bracket at No. 1 singles.

    Kiah Turner, P.K. Yonge, sophomore: Finished 16-1 and won the District 4-1A title at No. 2 singles and reached the state semifinals at No. 2 singles.

    Chrissie Reichert, Columbia, senior: Was 15-4 at No. 1 singles and won the District 5-3A title to clinch an individual berth to the Class 3A state tournament.

    Abigail Vlasak, Oak Hall, freshman: Turned in a 10-4 record at No. 1 singles and helped lead the Eagles to their second straight regional-playoff appearance.

    Lillie Mehan, Eastside, freshman: Turned in a 20-1 record at No. 1 singles, won District 5-2A title to clinch state tournament berth, also led the Rams to the regional playoffs for first time since 2005.

    Courtney Cribb, Buchholz, sophomore: Compiled an 11-3 mark at No. 1 singles and a 14-2 record at No. 1 doubles for the Bobcats.

    Second team

    Jean Saltivan, St. Francis, senior: Was 10-5 at No. 1 singles and was the District 4-1A runner up for the Wolves.

    Madison Sagas, P.K. Yonge, seventh-grade: Posted a 11-2 mark at No. 3 singles and claimed the District 4-1A title at No. 1 doubles with Jazz Whittaker.

    Selin Yaylali, Oak Hall, sixth-grade: Finished as the District 4-1A runner up at No. 2 singles with a 9-2 record for the Eagles.

    Allie Sourakov, Eastside, sophomore: Was 16-1 and was the District 5-2A runner up at No. 2 singles for the Rams.

    Mara Lance, Suwannee, senior: District 2-2A champion at No. 3 singles with a 12-2 record; was 10-1 and district runner-up at No. 2 doubles.

    Caroline Karafa, Buchholz, senior: Claimed the District 1-4A crown at No. 4 singles, finishing with a 10-4 mark, while also posting a 10-6 record at No. 2 doubles for the Bobcats.

    Honorable mention:

    Susan Stanfill, Buchholz, sophomore; Jessie Bates, Columbia, junior; Heather Rountree, Columbia, senior; Amaleah Mirti, Eastside, sophomore; Brianna Harper, Gainesville, senior; Carly Brasfield, Gainesville, senior; Samantha Jackson, Interlachen, senior; Elizabeth Gray, Interlachen, senior; Kim Stephens, Interlachen, senior; Natalie Butcher, Interlachen, senior; Colton Stark, Newberry, junior; Dawntavia Davis, Newberry, senior; Sophia Papa, Oak Hall, sixth grade; Gaelin McLeod, Oak Hall, freshman;

    Marcela Ifju, P.K. Yonge, seventh-grade; Darby Townsend, P.K. Yonge, eighth-grade; Amanda Krpan, P.K. Yonge, senior; Maureen Brennan, P.K. Yonge, senior; Maggie Bethea, Santa Fe, freshman; Kim Bill, Santa Fe, senior; Laura-Kaitlyn Boatright, Suwanne, senior

    Coach of the Year

    Robert Taylor, P.K. Yonge

    He takes home this award for the second time in three seasons. Taylor guided the Blue Wave to a 7-3 record and to their fifth straight district championship and also steered P.K. Yonge back to the FHSAA Class 1A state tournament for the second time in three years. At the state tournament held at Red Bug Lake Park in Casselberry, the Blue Wave finished third out of the eight-team field. Highlighting P.K. Yonge’s trip to state was No. 1 singles player Jazz Whittaker who captured the Class 1A state title on the team side of the bracket, before falling in the overall state title match.

    Note: The Gainesville Sun all-area teams, player of the year and coach of the year were selected by Cliff Olsen with help from area coaches and Sun high school sports editor Larry Savage. If a team is not represented, it is because the coach did not respond to e-mails sent to the school requesting information and numerous reminders in the newspaper.

  • 2012 Gainesville Sun Tennis Players of the Year

    http://www.gainesville.com/article/20120601/ARTICLES/120609922

    By Cliff Olsen
    Correspondent
    Published: Friday, June 1, 2012 at 11:00 p.m.

    2012 GAINESVILLE SUN BOYS TENNIS PLAYER OF THE YEAR

    ERIK VINCEK, BUCHHOLZ

    Credentials

    The 6-foot-2, 185-pound senior, who was The Sun’s player of the year as a freshman in 2009, almost didn’t play his final season of high school tennis. While Vincek admitted to being burned out on the sport and thought about quitting prior to the season, his best friend and doubles partner Alex Vlasak and Bobcats interim coach Jay Godwin convinced him otherwise. Things worked out for Vincek, who posted a 16-2 mark at No. 1 singles, losing just five sets all season. He claimed his third consecutive district title at No. 1 singles, clinching his third straight trip to the FHSAA Class 4A state tournament. Vincek also earned the top-seed on the individual side of the draw and reached the state semifinals. At No. 1 doubles, Vincek and Vlasak, “The Killer Vs” as they are called by Godwin, finished with a 14-2 record. The duo captured the District 1-4A title and advanced to the state semifinals. Vincek is ranked 10th in the state in the boys 18 rankings, according to the USTA’s May rankings.

    Vincek is still a big fan of the Rubik’s Cube. Although, he said there was a while where he didn’t pick up the 3-D puzzle, he can still solve it in about 35 seconds. Vincek, who has a 4.35 weighted GPA, is planning to attend Florida in the fall and hopes to be involved with the Gators men’s tennis team.

    “I had an interview with Andy Jackson the (then) UF coach and he said it would be really tough to make the team, so I kind of lost a lot of confidence there,” Vincek said. “I really wanted to go to UF and play for their team (as a walk on). He didn’t say yes or no, he just said you might be able to, but he was kind of hinting that you’re probably not. I pretty much got the message.

    “I might even still try to practice with the UF team, I know some guys there.”

    Quoteworthy

    “I was pretty happy. I put my whole life into it. I think that was one of the things (the player of the year award) in my mind, let’s give it one last try. I started as the player of the year and then end as the player of the year, that would be nice. I did it, so that’s great.”- Erik Vincek.

    “I definitely lost my love for the game a little bit, I didn’t even want to touch a racket,” Vincek said. “They (Vlasak and Godwin) both really motivated me to keep on playing and helped me realize that I am not going to stop playing tennis and that I love it.

    “I was glad because I got back to my prime game and I played probably even better than I ever had.”

    2012 GAINESVILLE SUN GIRLS TENNIS PLAYER OF THE YEAR

    JAZZ WHITTAKER, P.K. YONGE

    Credentials

    For the fifth straight year, a P.K. Yonge girls tennis player takes home this award. The 6-foot Whittaker wins this award for the second straight year. She turned in a 14-1 mark, which included winning her second straight District 4-1A title at No. 1 singles. She followed with a pair of regional victories in leading the Blue Wave to their second FHSAA Class 1A state tournament appearance in three years. At the state tournament held at Red Bug Lake Park in Casselberry, Whittaker claimed the state title at No. 1 singles on the team side of the bracket. Although she fell to Delray Beach American Heritage’s Rasheeda McAdoo in the overall state title match, Whittaker became the first area girls tennis player to play for an overall singles state championship since Eastside’s Amanda Field was the Class 4A runner-up in 1998. Whittaker and Madison Sagas also won a district title at No. 1 doubles for the Blue Wave, which placed third at state as a team. Last spring, Whittaker teamed with Kiah Turner and the duo won the Class 1A state title on the individual side of the doubles bracket. In 2010, Whittaker and Turner won the Class 1A state crown at No. 2 doubles. Whittaker is ranked 58th in the state in the girls 18 rankings, according to the USTA’s May rankings.

    “During the year, I had a few set things,” Whittaker said. “I wanted to beat everyone pretty soundly and I wanted to have the whole team get to state this year because I thought it would be a good experience for the younger girls.”

    Personal notes

    She played volleyball for P.K. Yonge as a sophomore, but decided to switch fall sports as a junior. Instead she was a member of the Blue Wave swim team this past fall. Whittaker was an honorable mention all-area selection in the 100 breast stroke and swam on the 200 medley relay team. Whittaker said she did that for cross training and to build more muscle. Whittaker said that she plans on playing tennis for a Division-1 school at the collegiate level and has started to generate interest from schools. The right-hander lists her kick serve, her forehand and her net game in general as her strengths.

    Quoteworthy

    I kind of forgot about the award I wasn’t really thinking about it too much. I think I was in History class, I was in school (when I received the message about winning the award). I was goofing around with my friends and said, ‘Winning.’ They were like, what did you win this time? I told them tennis player of the year. Mr. Bourn is my teacher and we were doing busy work. I am goofy and they are used to it.” — Jazz Whittaker.

    Brad McClenny/Staff photographer

    Personal notes

  • P.K. Yonge, Eastside, GHS Onward to State Tennis Tournament

    http://www.gainesville.com/article/20120415/ARTICLES/120419717

    By Cliff Olsen
    Correspondent
    Published: Sunday, April 15, 2012 at 11:44 p.m.

    Three area tennis teams and a handful of area individual players will be heading down to the state tournament in Altamonte Springs and Cassellberry starting today.

    The Gainesville High boys squad are making their second straight trip to state, while the Eastside boys and the P.K. Yonge girls are returning to the big stage for the second time in the last three years.

    The Hurricanes led by Cole Fiegel, The Sun’s 2010 player of the year and Zach Goldberg, The Sun’s 2011 player of the year, cruised through its two regional matches last week. GHS, which placed sixth out eight teams at last year’s FHSAA Class 3A state tournament, opens play on Wednesday with almost its entire team from last spring.

    “Last year was an eye-opening experience for them and we got some bad draws last year, that first round was really tough,” said GHS coach Paul Spradling, who guided the Hurricanes to the Class 5A state title in 1996 and to a share of the championship 1998. “I think we are a little stronger than we were last year and I think we are more experienced, hopefully that will carry over.”

    The lefty-serving Fiegel (17-2), who said he has been battling tendinitis in his left shoulder, is at No. 1 singles, followed by Goldberg (19-0) at No. 2 singles. The pair play together at No. 1 doubles. Peter Slaton, Jacob Gordon and Justin Zambelli round out the three remaining singles positions, with Slaton and Zambelli set as the GHS No. 2 doubles team.

    Naples Barron Collier, the two-time defending state champions and winners of five of the last seven Class 3A state titles are the favorites.

    “The kids and I are excited,” Spradling said. “If we get some good draws, I think we can do well this year. I think if we place in the top three, that is doing well.”

    Eastside, which also coasted through its two regional matches, begins action today at the Class 2A state tournament.

    The Rams are paced by Frazier Springfield at No. 1 singles, followed by Camille Kima, Jon Yoo, Derek Li and Max Curtis, rounding out the singles lineup for coach Dave Porter’s club. Springfield and Yoo play at No. 1 doubles, with Kim and Austin Gillete penciled in at No. 2 doubles.

    The P.K. Yonge girls squad, which is fueled by Jazz Whittaker, The Sun’s 2011 player of the year and Kiah Turner, at the top two singles spots, starts Class 1A state tourney action on Wednesday. Although Whittaker and Turner are not playing doubles together this season, they both have state tournament experience. A year ago, the duo won the FHSAA Class 1A state title on the individual side of the doubles bracket. In 2010, the pair won the Class 1A state crown at No. 2 doubles.

    “Realistically we need to go in there with nothing to lose, play every match like our life depends on it and let the chips fall where they may,” Blue Wave coach Robert Taylor said. “Hopefully we can grab a few points here and there, we’ll see what happens.”

    Madison Sagas is at No. 3 singles, with Marcela Ifju and Darby Townsend at the other two singles spots. Whittaker and Sagas play No. 1 doubles, while Turner and Ifju are at No. 2 doubles.

    As for the area’s individuals, who earned individual state tournament berths by winning district titles at No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles, Erik Vincek of Buchholz will be a part of the Class 4A singles tournament. He’ll also play doubles with Alex Vlasask. This is Vincek’s third straight trip to the state tournament as an individual.

    Columbia’s Chrissie Reichert, who reached state each of the last two years along with the rest of her Columbia teammates, will be playing individually in the Class 3A tournament.

    “Chrissie knew that her goal was singles, going to state in singles and she realized that goal,” Columbia coach Tabatha McMahon. “Her game has progressed since she was a freshman, she has become a smarter player as a senior. I am proud of her.”

    Eastside’s Lillie Mehan will be part of the individual singles draw in Class 2A. Harrison Thibault of Oak Hall will be in singles action in Class 1A and will play doubles with Apurv Suman.

  • ‘Canes, Wave Tennis in the Mix at State

    http://www.gainesville.com/article/20120418/ARTICLES/120419532

    By Cliff Olsen
    Correspondent
    Published: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 at 11:00 p.m.

    Gainesville High School boys tennis coach Paul Spradling said he was excited to see how his team would perform at the FHSAA Class 3A state tournament at Sanlando Park in Altamonte Springs.

    After Wednesday’s opening-day action, the veteran coach is pleased as the Hurricanes, in their second straight trip to state, have six points and are tied with Bradenton Lakewood Ranch and Stuart Martin County.

    Naples Barron Collier, the two-time defending state champions, lead after day one with 11 points.

    “The kids played their hearts out today, and I’m glad to be tied for second with a shot to still win the whole thing,” said Spradling, who guided the Hurricanes to the Class 5A state title in 1996 and to a share of the championship 1998. “Zach (Goldberg) and Pete (Slaton) came up big for us.”

    Goldberg, The Sun’s 2011 player of the year, breezed through his quarterfinal and semifinal matches at No. 2 singles, dropping just one game in his pair of straight-set wins. Goldberg will be playing for a state title today as will No. 3 singles player Peter Slaton, who got through the quarterfinals and semifinals matches.

    Both of the Hurricanes doubles teams, No. 1 Cole Fiegel and Goldberg and No. 2 Slaton and Justin Zambelli, posted quarterfinal victories and will be in semifinal action today.

    On the individual girls side of the Class 3A state tournament, Columbia’s Chrissie Reichert lost her opening-round match in straight sets.

    The P.K. Yonge girls team also had a good day at the Class 1A state tournament at Red Bug Lake Park in Casselberry. The Blue Wave are in third place with five points, behind Boca Raton St. Andrew’s (11) and Miami Ransom Everglades (10).

    “I was impressed with our composure that we were able to hang with a lot of the stronger opponents,” P.K. Yonge coach Robert Taylor said. “We’re doing good.”

    Jazz Whittaker, The Sun’s 2011 player of the year, rolled to a pair of straight-set wins and will be playing for a state title today at No. 1 singles. The Blue Wave’s No. 2 doubles team of Kiah Turner and Marcela Ifju reached today’s semifinal round after a straight-set quarterfinals win on Monday.

    In the Class 1A individual tournament, Oak Hall’s Harrison Thibault fell in straight sets.

    Thibault and Apurv Suman defaulted in their quarterfinals doubles match. Suman, who recently was accepted to Yale, was at pre-orientation and was not able to get back in time, according to Eagles co-coach Tom Simpson.

  • Area High School Tennis Teams Earn District Sweeps

    By Cliff Olsen
    Correspondent
    Published: Tuesday, April 3, 2012

    The Gainesville High School boys tennis team cruised to its second straight district title on Day 2 of the District 5-3A tournament, Tuesday at the Jonesville Tennis Center.

    The Hurricanes stormed through the field, claiming each of the five singles positions and both doubles slots. On the girls side, Columbia’s Chrissie Reichert won the district title at No. 1 singles and clinched an individual state tournament berth.

    “The kids did a real good job. They knew what they had to do to get through this,” said GHS boys coach Paul Spradling. “It was a business-like approach. They knew what they had to do and they got it done.”

    Cole Fiegel, The Sun’s 2010 Player of the Year, and Zach Goldberg, last year’s Player of the Year, each posted straight-set wins at No. 1 and No. 2 singles, respectively. Fiegel and Goldberg didn’t lose a game as they teamed up to win the No. 1 doubles title. Peter Slaton, Jacob Gordon and Justin Zambelli each rolled to wins at No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5 singles. Slaton and Zambelli also took the No. 2 doubles title.

    “I thought we had a pretty good day. We swept the district,” Goldberg said. “Everyone on our team won all of their matches — singles and doubles. I don’t think it could have gone much better.

    “I’m excited. It makes us all happy to be able to win our district and move on to regionals. It should be fun.”

    The Hurricanes, who reached the state tournament last year for the first time since 2007, will host a Class 3A first-round regional match on Tuesday. Ocala Forest, the district runner-up, will be on the road for the opening round.

    Reichert, who reached state with her Tigers teammates the last two years, was the only area girls player to move on after pulling out the district title.

    “It is huge because this is my senior year, and I really wanted to have one last hurrah before I graduate,” Reichert. “I just had to dig deep. It was amazing because I have dreamed about this from Day 1 of this season.”

    As a sophomore, she won a district title at No. 2 singles, but this was her first district title at No. 1 singles.

    DISTRICT 5-2A: At Crystal River, the Eastside boys tennis team also made it a clean sweep in grabbing its first district crown since 2010. Frazier Springfield titled at No. 1 singles, while Camille Kima, John Yoo, Tabong Kima and Max Curtis claimed district titles and No. 2-5 singles. Springfield and Yoo won at No. 1 doubles, with the Kima brothers taking the No. 2 doubles title. The Rams, who clinched their third straight regional playoff appearance, will host a first-round regional match on Tuesday.

    “I am extremely proud,” Eastside coach Dave Porter said. “We plan to win both rounds of regionals and hopefully get to state.”

    On the girls side, the Rams finished as the district runners-up, two points behind Crystal River, and clinched their first regional playoff appearance since 2005.

    Lillie Mehan captured the district title at No. 1 singles and clinched an individual state tournament berth, while Amaleah Mirti claimed the district title at No. 4 singles to lead the way for the Rams.

    Eastside will be on the road for its first-round regional match on Tuesday.

  • 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

  • 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.”