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


    By Cliff Olsen
    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


    By Cliff Olsen
    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
    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.

  • 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
  • Wheelchair Tennis Makes Its Mark at Super Senior Nationals

    April 21, 2102

    By J. Fred Sidhu, special to USTA.com

    Surprise, AZ


    The evolution of wheelchair tennis continues.
    John Johnston, a 63-year-old tennis wheelchair player, made his second career appearance in a USTA League National  Championship this weekend.
    The resident of Gainesville, Fla. represented the USTA Florida Section Super Senior men’s 6.0 team and helped his team advance to the semifinals at the Surprise Tennis & Racquet Complex.
    Johnston, a Vietnam War veteran, began playing wheelchair tennis in the mid-1970s and went on to become a world-class wheelchair tennis player, traveling around the world and achieving a career-high singles ranking of 24 in the world.
    In 1990 Johnston captured a doubles title at the Japan Open with Brad Parks, a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, who is considered one of the pioneers of wheelchair tennis.
    Johnston became the first wheelchair player to play USTA League tennis approximately 20 years ago and played in his first USTA League National Championship at the Senior level in 2004.
    “I was the very first one to play able-bodied USTA League Tennis. I started telling other guys in chairs about it, trying to get them involved,” Johnston said. “There are not many of us. I would say probably 10 to 15 at most.”
    When Johnston plays with able-bodied players, he wants to show that he deserves to be on the same court.
    He told the story of his first match against an able-bodied player years ago who said he wouldn’t hit the ball hard at him. On the first point of the match, Johnston set the tone as he slammed a shot at his opponent who had approached the net.
    Johnston has seen wheelchair tennis evolve since he began playing and is impressed with the high level of the sport today. “The Open (wheelchair) players now are playing unbelievable,” Johnston said. “The level has risen immensely and the quality of play is incredible. It’s a specialized sport.”
    Johnston sees a bright future for wheelchair tennis. “It’s only going to get better and better. The kids are younger and stronger,” he said. “They’re training for it. They’re going through the regular routines that the pros do now. They work out three times a day and do cross-training with weights. They’re top athletes.”
    When it comes to promoting USTA League tennis, Johnston has a message for his fellow wheelchair players – “You’ve got to get out there and play. It’s a game of a lifetime. You can play with your friends and family,” he said. “I want them to take advantage of it because it’s going to help their game all over. I would hope that a lot more would do it.”

  • Gainesville Team Wins at USTA Florida Combo Adult Championships

    Adapted from USTA Florida January 18, 2012 02:47 PM


    The Gainesville team, playing out of the Jonesville Tennis Center and representing Alachua County, swept Escambia County 3-0 in the Combo Men’s 7.5 division final to claim the championship.

    Captained by Gabriel Ghita, the Gainesville squad was comprised of Daniel Berdat, Latchezar Hristov, Eric Kidd, Newton Turenne, Ziad Ghanimi, William Pelletier, Sorin Fratila, David Craig Perkins, David Hou, Erik Bayard, Leonardo Ferreira, Greg Williamson, Kevin Banes, Peter Adhihetty and John Kairalla.

    Combo Adult teams are comprised of players 18 years or older in a combined-rating format from 5.5 to 9.5. The combined NTRP (National Tennis Rating Program) ratings of each doubles team may neither exceed the level nor be more than 1.0 less than the level in which they are competing. The NTRP rating difference between the members of an individual doubles pair may not exceed 0.5.

    7.5 Combo Champions – JTC Ghita

  • University of Florida Women’s Tennis Home Match Schedule 2012

    Date of Home Match Opponent Time
    Wednesday, January 25th Troy 3 pm
    Wednesday, February 1st UCF 3 pm
    Tuesday, February 7th USF 4 pm
    Sunday, February 26th North Carolina 1 pm
    Wednesday, February 29th FSU 5 pm
    Friday, March 9th Vanderbilt 5 pm
    Sunday, March 11th Kentucky 1 pm
    Wednesday, March 14th Duke 3 pm
    Sunday, March 25th Ole Miss 1 pm
    Friday, April 6th Arkansas 5 pm
    Sunday, April 8th LSU 1 pm
  • University of Florida Men’s Tennis Spring 2012 Home Match Schedule

    Saturday, Jan. 28th ITA Kick OFF against New Mexico University 10:00 AM

    Sunday, Jan. 29th winners of Florida, New Mexico, Miami, Wake Forest TBA

    Saturday Feb. 11 Florida State University 1:00 PM

    Sunday Feb 12 University of Illinois 12:00 PM

    Tuesday Feb 28 University of South Florida 3:00 PM

    Friday March 2 University of Tennessee 5:00 PM

    Sunday March 4 University of Georgia 1:00 PM

    Friday March 24 Mississippi State University 5:00 PM

    Friday March 30 Auburn University 5:00 PM

    Sunday April 1 University of Alabama 1:00 PM

    Saturday April 14 University of South Carolina 1:00 PM

    Sat. & Sun May 12-13 1st and 2nd round of NCAA Tournament Site to be decided

  • 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.