• Gainesville, Indian Harbour Beach, Jacksonville, Melbourne, Teams Advance to 2012 Jr. Team Tennis Nationals

    Excerpted from:
    Teams from Gainesville, Indian Harbour Beach, Jacksonville, and Melbourne will represent the USTA Florida Section at Jr. Team Tennis Nationals after claiming the Florida state championships in the 14-under and 18-under divisions at the 2012 USTA Florida Jr. Team Tennis Summer Championships, held July 27-29 at the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach.
    “I am so proud of all the teams that participated in the championships this year,” said USTA Florida Team Tennis Coordinator Michelle Brown. “There were a lot of new teams joining teams that have been coming for years. We saw a great display of sportsmanship, competitive matches, and teams having fun.  It was great to see so many teams out of Brevard this year. They have been growing their program over the last couple of years and am so proud of their success. Teams are already looking forward to the Florida Winter Championship in January 2013 in South Florida.”
    The 2012 USTA Jr. Team Tennis National Championships will be held in Cayce, S.C., on Oct. 18-21, 2012, for the 14-under Intermediate and Advanced divisions, and on Oct. 25-28 for the 18-under Intermediate and Advanced divisions.
    USTA Jr. Team Tennis (JTT) brings kids together in teams to play singles, doubles and mixed doubles against other teams. It promotes social skills and important values by fostering cooperation and unity, as well as individual self-growth. It is designed for kids ages 5-18, and matches can be held anywhere from a local park or school to a commercial or private club. JTT teams are co-ed and divided by the play levels Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, and the age groups 18-under, 14-under, 12-under, and utilizing the 10 and Under Tennis format for the 10-under and 8-under leagues.
    In the 14-Intermediate final the Westside Wailers captured the title, finishing ahead of their opponents from Miami.
    The Westside Wailers play out of Westside Park in Gainesville, and in the final in Daytona Beach defeated the Miami Contenders 148-118 in total games. They are captained by Jennine Brandt, with the team roster comprised of Benjamin Nagoshi, Madison Sagas, Darby Arden Townsend, Sophia Katharine Papa, Zachary Brandt, and Benjamin Brandt.
    jtt 14-Int-Champion-Westside-Wailers-web 2012
  • Blog From USTA Florida at the 2011 Jr. Team Team Championships


    Thank you to Mi Young Lee, who wrote these blogs after long days at the Arizona courts. The following is the final blog from Arizona. Click on the link above to read the whole series.

    Sunday, October 23rd

    Championship Day

    Cockle-doodle-doo! We were greeted at the courts by a sun thinking about rising and a rooster from a nearby backyard. It was chilly again, but the kids quickly warmed up on the courts. The spectators huddled with cups of coffee and whatever extra clothes they could find in the car. The ever-so-efficient USTA officials called the coaches to line up the teams at 7:15 am, 15 minutes ahead of schedule. The surprising thing is everyone was already ready to go. This was the final battle of the tournament. The kids were revving their engines, waiting for the checkered flag to let them loose.

    Our final battle was against the advanced team from Hawaii. (In a sign of friendship and spirit of the games, we presented their coach with a Gator lei. Never had the Hawaiian coach been presented with a lei before by a non-islander!) This would determine the winner of our flight. Our own little championship battle for 13th place nationally. Out of 12,615 teams nationally. Not bad.

    The doubles and singles courts went on simultaneously. Hyunsoo Ryan Joo played the boys’ singles court for this match. He is known for his strong, steady style of play. He exhibited his skills on the court today as he relentlessly ran his opponent from side to side, angle to angle, shot after shot. His tenacity and concentration were evident throughout this grueling match. Kendal Wilby was our girls’ singles player for the day. She is a determined warrior on the court, more focused and more heavy-hitting when she faces controversies and pressure. She was forced to play at a very high level for a very long, contentious match today, and she delivered. Harry Cacciatore and Jared Lee played boys’ doubles together for the first time in this tournament. (For each match, we had different line-ups with different combinations, requiring our players to be versatile and flexible enough to play with any other player on the team on a moment’s notice.) Their opponents looked semi-professional with extreme angle shots, perfect lobs and penetrating groundstrokes. And yet Jared and Harry encouraged one another through challenging rallies and situations to somehow emerge as the victors.

    Emily Louie-Meadors and Lillie Mehan represented our team on the girls’ doubles court. One of the Hawaiian girls hit the ball so hard that it was difficult to even track the ball as an observer. We could only flinch. Despite that, Lillie and Emily not only returned her bullets as effective groundstrokes but took them as volleys, never giving up any ground. They didn’t give up much ground in points either and claimed victory for their court. Grey Cacciatore and Ellie Wright played mixed doubles on the final court. Ellie was on fire with her sizzling groundstrokes, and Grey added every variation of shot imaginable to the partnership. They fought their way to a third-set tiebreak and never gave up.

    Each court sported a mighty battle to the finish. There were no easy matches, no weak competitors. Not even close. The will to win was strong on both sides of the net. No one won or lost for lack of skill, resolve or effort. This was not a match won by individual effort. The match came down purely to team effort. Every player had to bring it on the court today. And it took the mixed doubles team once again to determine the fate of the championship. This time, they delivered those final points necessary to seal the victory! We were victorious over Hawaii.

    To place the competitive nature of this tournament in perspective, we had lost to the ultimate 4th place team from Virginia Beach by a mere three games. Talk about tight competition!

    At the closing ceremonies, we were doubly surprised to be awarded the prize for Best Team Banner. All our kids filed out onto the stadium floor to receive their awards. Smiles lit their faces as they proudly represented their beloved Florida.

    Whatever place we finished at the end, we were already a championship team in our hearts. Every single player tasted the thrill of victory, every single player tasted the bitter agony of defeat, and every single player played every single match. We started off as a team, and we walked out of the tournament as a team. More importantly, we stayed as a family. The defeats made us stronger and more determined. The victories sweetened the memories. This nationals experience will live on in our memories forever.

  • Mehan Family of Gainesville Readies 3 for USTA League and JTT National Chps.

    From http://www.florida.usta.com/mehan_family_of_gainesville_readies_3_for_usta_league_and_jtt_national_chps111/

    September 15, 2011

    After playing USTA League tennis for more than 25 years and never advancing to nationals, Gainesville’s Bobbie Mehan suddenly has a family full of national championship contenders in 2011. In the same year Mehan, her sister and her daughter are all advancing to USTA League National Championships in Arizona.

    Mehan, the QuickStart 10 and Under Tennis director and assistant pro at the Jonesville Tennis Center in Gainesville, Fla., began playing USTA League tennis out of college in Kansas City. Then it was league tennis in Chicago, Atlanta, and for the last 10 years in Florida.

    “Altogether I’ve played forever and never gotten to a nationals,” she says, laughing. “That doesn’t seem possible does it, after playing that many years.”

    Her women’s 45-and-over team, including sister Bonnie O’Brien, were unlikely USTA Florida Section champions until enduring a series of tiebreak wins during a rainy weekend at the USTA Florida Adult League Championships in July at the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach.

    “We were not favored by any means. We were just excited to [advance to] play on Sunday, much less play in the finals,” Mehan said. “It came down to a third-set tiebreaker on the last court for us to win on a Sunday at about 11 o’clock at night [after rain delays]. All the tiebreakers went our way, it was really perfect, it was really close. I think we were taking our [championship team] pictures at 11:15 p.m. that Sunday because of the rain, it was just crazy. There’s not too much of a fanbase around at 11:15 on a Sunday night, but that didn’t matter.”

    The sisters Bobbie and Bonnie have played tennis together since high school when their team won the state championship. Bonnie will be the lone player on the team with previous USTA League National Championship experience.

    “She did go to nationals one time out of [USTA] Missouri Valley, she got to go to Key Biscayne,” Mehan said. “There’s actually people on the team that have played longer than me — there is one lady on the team who says she has played league tennis for over 40 years and never had gone to nationals.”

    One tradition for USTA teams advancing to league nationals is to present the other teams with a gift, and the Gainesville resident is attempting to keep her Florida Gators football passion in check.

    “We’re going to come up with something great to represent Florida — I think we should give something ‘Gators,’ something Gator-ish, but we are representing Florida and not just Gainesville,” Mehan said, laughing.

    The team roster also includes Ekanong Van Roy, Larissa Williamson, Mary Cribb, Elizabeth Amdur, Jean Vaughn, Kar Yee Fransham, Preetika Pai, Barbara Rozboril, Kathy Bevis, Margot Markowitz, Deborah Hubbart, Zhoe Solaun, Sierra Solaun, Debbie Bowers and Sandra Phillips.

    Also advancing to USTA Jr. Team Tennis Nationals in the 14-Advanced division is Mehan’s daughter Lillie.

    “I had the additional pressure, because my daughter had already won her sectional weeks before, and I knew she was going to nationals so I had the pressure,” Mehan said. “I thought, ‘Okay! If she gets to go to nationals, maybe this is my year.’ It’s just weird that they’re both in Arizona a week apart.”

    For the 14-year-old Lillie it’s also a first-time trip to nationals after much of her team recently moved up from the 12-Advanced division.

    “This will be the first time going to nationals for everyone on the team,” said Lillie, who adds the team has already planned their wardrobe changes.

    “We’re all planning on wearing the same uniform for every day — like, on the plane we’ll all wear Jonesville or DB [Racquet Club] tennis shirts, and for like the first day we’re wearing black and yellow, and the next day we’re wearing black-out, like black shirts and shorts or whatever, and the next day yellow and navy,” Lillie said. “It’s really exciting, because it’s our first time ever and it’s really fun.”

    Now all that’s left for the family is figuring out flights and stay-overs in Arizona to support one another. The 2011 USTA League 4.5 Adult National Championships will be held Oct. 28-30, 2011 at the Reffkin Tennis Center in Tucson, Ariz., while the 2011 USTA Jr. Team Tennis 14-U National Championships will be held Oct. 20-23 at The Surprise Tennis and Racquet Complex in Surprise, Ariz.

  • Results of 10 and Under Tennis

  • Sun’s 2011 Tennis Players of the Year


    By Cliff Olsen, Correspondent

    Published June 4th, 2011

    Zachary Goldberg and Jazz Whittaker




    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.


    “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




    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.


    “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



    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

  • 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)




  • Columbia Girls Tennis Returns to State

    By Cliff Olsen, Sun Correspondent


    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


    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


    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.”