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Allen enjoys serious approach

Hiding behind the Citrus/Hernando golfer of the year's demeanor on the course is a love of the game.

By BRANT JAMES, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 24, 2002


BROOKSVILLE -- Sometimes it was hard to tell if Tara Allen was having any fun. Emotions veiled behind brown sunglasses and a large visor, the Hernando High sophomore walked in concentration, swung her clubs with purpose and rarely seemed pleased.

But Allen had plenty to enjoy this season, clearly defining herself as the top female player in Citrus and Hernando counties, after winning Gulf Coast Athletic Conference and district championships.

It turns out she was having fun after all.

"I love playing golf," Allen said. "Because I love doing it so much I really take it seriously and put in all the time I do. Because of all that time, I expect pretty good rewards. "

She does. Allen prepared for the season with a rigorous summer schedule, and won the North Suncoast Junior Golf Association Girls Advanced 10-18 title by 14 strokes. She cruised into the Leopards' schedule, went undefeated, then fired an 18-hole 82 to capture the GCAC crown at Silverthorn by seven shots. Allen produced a 1-over-par 73 to earn medalist honors on Saint Leo University's Abbey Course in the Class A, District 6 tournament, finishing the season with a nine-hole scoring average of 40 and an 8-handicap.

"Her dedication and practice makes her good," Hernando coach Darlene Kufner said. "She probably has the best practice schedule on anyone, and the expectations of herself are very high."

A stickler on golf decorum, Allen also expects a lot of her competitors. She made during the GCAC the agonizing decision to help turn in two-time defending champion Christina Mitchell of Citrus for club abuse. Mitchell said Allen made the right call.

"She's very rule-oriented," Kufner said. "She acts like a lady. I've never seen anything out of the way from her on the course. She's a little more giggly off the course, but when she's there, she knows exactly what she has to do."

With conference and district titles checked off her mental list and half a high school career left, Allen has a chance to join former state champion and current professional Kelly Lagedrost in a line of outstanding Hernando golfers.

Work on the next set of goals is perpetual, but enjoyable.

"I see a lot of girls push themselves to be better and go out and practice just so they can get good," Allen said. "I go out to have fun, then I take it seriously. If I have a bad round, I know I have something else to work on."

ALL CITRUS/HERNANDO GIRLS TEAM

TARA ALLEN, SO., HERNANDO: Player of the Year won Gulf Coast Athletic Conference, district titles, had 40 scoring average.

ERIN FIELDS, SR., LECANTO: Citrus-County best 44 avg., 90 in regional.

ANNE KIZER, JR., LECANTO: 47 avg., 89 in district, 88 in regional.

KRISTIN KLAUDER, JR., CITRUS: Had 93 in GCAC, 86 in district and 90 in regional.

CHRISTINA MITCHELL, SR., CITRUS: 45 avg., 91 in district.

LISA LAMONTAGNE, SR., LECANTO: 45 avg., 89 in GCAC.

-- Compiled by Brant James and Keith Niebuhr.

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