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Family's moves have Dragicevic in good position

By NANCY MORGAN
© St. Petersburg Times
published July 2, 2002

Goran Dragicevic credits his success on the tennis courts to his dad, an improved mental game and lots of matches.

"My dad is a perfect coach," Dragicevic said. "He knows how to keep tennis fun and even though we're serious on the court, when we're off, he's my dad."

About three years ago, the Dragicevic family left Germany, where they had lived for eight years, for New Port Richey. The Bosnian family knew life, as well as tennis, would be better in the U.S.

"My dad, Drago, got me started in tennis when I was about five years old," Dragicevic said. "When we moved to Germany, I went to (former Davis Cup captain) Niki Pilic Tennis Academy."

Dragicevic, 18, has developed an aggressive game that includes net play along with baseline strategy.

At last month's Florida Bush Open Championships in Fort Myers, Dragicevic applied his strategy to reach boys 18-and-under singles final. Seeded No. 1, Dragicevic swept five opponents in straight sets to reach the final against No. 2 Colin Purcell of Kentucky.

"We were actually pretty close and split sets," Dragicevic said. "That's when it rained, there wasn't enough time to wait it out and they had to declare us co-champions."

Drago Dragicevic is pleased with his son's progress, yet sees there's room for improvement.

"Goran has improved a lot but has a long way to go," Drago Dragicevic said. "He's a lot more comfortable around the net and a lot calmer on the court."

Later this month, Dragicevic will compete in the U.S. Tennis Association National Clay Court Championships in Kentucky, followed by the USTA National Hard Court Championships in Michigan in August.

Dragicevic's goal is to be a professional player and looks to Goran Ivanisevic, whom he has met, for inspiration.

OTHER BUSH RESULTS: Evan Dufaux and Maciek Sykut finished second in the boys 16 doubles. Miranda Gutierrez and Brianna Williams reached the girls 16 semifinal round. Dufaux was fourth in the 16 singles and Gutierrez reached the 16 consolation quarterfinals.

Tampa's Becky Gordon and Yuri Kurashima advanced to the 18 quarterfinals and Laura Gioia played to the 16 main-draw quarterfinal round.

St. Petersburg's Kelly Nelson teamed with Lingda Yang of Coconut Creek to win the 18 doubles championship. The No. 3 seeds upset both the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds to win.

CLEARWATER'S SUMMER CLASSIC: Cameron Babbitt of Lutz won the boys 16 consolation draw and Linda Tien of Tampa was a finalist in the girls 18 at McMullen Tennis Center.

NET SHOTS: A one-week training session for juniors is offered July 15-18 at the Silverthorn Community Center from 9 a.m. to noon taught by tennis professional Louise Harres. Call the center, (352) 684-4321. ... Pasco-Hernando Community College tennis coach Brent Wellman offers lessons, competitions and contests for beginners to high school players at the PHCC West Campus courts in New Port Richey. Call Wellman, (727) 816-3397. ... Mixed doubles players should contact Judy Jeanette, (352) 684-4321, about playing in the Monday night Nature Coast League.

COMING UP: Royal Racquet Club's Summer Junior Classic begins Saturday in Clearwater. Call the club, (727) 791-8415, before Wednesday's deadline. ... The Temple Terrace Adult Classic is July 26-28 at the recreation department's courts. Call (813) 989-7178 to enter the state-sanctioned age-division singles competition.

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