St. Petersburg Times Online: Business

Weather | Sports | Forums | Comics | Classifieds | Calendar | Movies

Oldsmar teen eyes the elite

NANCY MORGAN
Published July 10, 2003

Morgan Frank wants to play in the Junior U.S. Open Championships by the time she's 18.

To reach her goal, the 13-year-old has started a crash course of training and match competition. "I'm trying to play as much as I can and have just begun playing some international tournaments," Frank said. "I want to try to get some points for a world ranking to make it easier to get in some of the bigger tournaments," the Oldsmar girl said.

This week, Frank is in Pompano Beach in the U.S. Tennis Association Zone Team Championships for competitors 14-and-under.

Players in the top 20 of the state rankings are invited to participate in the coed team event.

"Morgan is one of the most talented girls I've worked with," said Krishnan Anandan, Seminole Lake Tennis Center director.

"She's fast, strong and has an all-around game. She just needs a few adjustments to be among the upper echelon of players in the country."

Frank is planning to enter several summer national tournaments, Anandan said. Plus, the player expects to be in five International Tennis Federation events, which will help provide experience so she can gain points for bigger main-draw tourneys.

"I started playing tennis when I was about 6 and got really serious when I was 10 and Bob Butterfield at East Lake Woodlands started putting me in a lot of tournaments," Frank said. "I liked it. I like traveling and being around other people."

Frank says she's mostly a baseline player who "hits the ball pretty hard with some topspin." "I'll come in to the net every once in a while," she said. "I've been working on hitting the ball deeper into the court and also working on my serve."

After this week's zone event, Frank is planning to remain in south Florida to compete in the 192-player draw USTA National Clay Courts in Plantation.

"I would love to play like Serena (Williams), who has so much power and just an awesome serve," Frank said. "By the time I'm 18, I want to play in the Junior U.S. Open. That's why I'm doing what I'm doing now."

In March, she entered her first ITF tourney. Frank won a match in the main draw of the event in Nassau, Bahamas, before losing 6-4, 6-3 to the No. 4 seed.

Last month, Frank reached the state's 14 final.

"I had a great tournament at state and was really pleased with how I did," she said. "I played the best match of my life and beat the No. 1 seed. I beat some others I'd never beaten before and was really happy." Anandan, who has worked with Frank the past eight months, says the youngster has the tools to achieve her dreams. JUNIORS AT NATIONALS: Largo's Alexandria Liles, the top seed in the girls 18-and-under division of the U.S. Tennis Association National Open in Tallahassee, won five matches en route to the singles title.

The USTA National Clay Court Championships begin Sunday at various U.S. sites. Among the competitors in the girls 12 class in Boca Raton are Morgan Basil and Alexandria Cercone. Frank and Lyndsay Dvorak are in the 14 division in Plantation, Christina Liles in the 16 bracket in Virginia Beach, and Nicholas Berning in the 16 boys in Rockville, Md.

NET SHOTS: Belleair's George Navas teamed with Andrew Mazlin of Altamonte Springs to win the boys 16-and-under doubles title in the Bush Florida Open Championships last week in Fort Myers. Navas played to the round of 32 in the boys 18 singles main draw and won five more matches in consolation action.

Sheharyar Wali (boys 16) and Shaun Young (18) advanced to the round of 16.

The Summer Classic results at Seminole Lake Tennis Center last month included local champions Allison Haberer (girls 10 round robin) and Ashley Eville (18).

Danielle Collins defended her top seed in the girls 12 class, defeating Kara Kucin 6-4, 6-2. Seeded second, Dvorak (16) and Daichi Murata (boys 16) finished first in their respective divisions.

Julia Claire Jones captured the girls 10-and-under singles crown in last weekend's Temple Terrace Summer Bash. Anastasiya Sokolova defended her top seed in the 18 competition.

Alexander Saltiel qualified for the boys 10 final.

Pinellas County will be represented by five squads in Saturday's USA Team Tennis NJTL/USA Team Tennis Youth Red Rally at Countryside Country Club.

Among the 12 squads of players 12-and-younger are Eckerd College NYSP, the Junior Aces of Tarpon Springs, PAL Power Racquets, SPTC Rallyballers and Vinoy Sponge Pants.

Squads that participated in spring or summer USA Team Tennis leagues were eligible for the event.

ADULT LEAGUE: USA Adult League playoffs were completed last month.

The Seminole Lake Tennis Center 4.0 men's team, with Red McGarry as captain, Phil Green Tennis Academy's 4.0 women, led by Marlene Flament, and Feather Sound Country Club's 3.5 women joined the other five district champions.

In its playoff with another Seminole squad, McGarry's team was sparked by wins from the doubles units of Dave Heeder and Scott Chambers, Krishnan Anandan and Alex Shubianok and Isaac Vicente and Robert Schultz and singles player Steve Phillips.

Rounding out McGarry's squad is Chris Rivera, John Beda, Ron Klieve, Brian Cooper, Mike Parker, Jim McCook, Dean Bryan, Eric Alvarado and Jon Bean.

PGTA scored victories over St. Petersburg Tennis Center on the play of Linda Thompson and Donna Roberts, Anne Pulley and Marion Murch and Ria Graham and Hank Skoczen in doubles and May Laraya in singles.

Other PGTA players are Marlene and Stephanie Flament, Gail Pierce, Nilda Martinez, Sharon Carlile, Carol Hancock, Patti Pretera, Carol Cotney and Pam Thomas.

In the women's 3.5 playoff, Feather Sound was led in doubles by Carol Stowasser and Elaine Diloreto and Karen Augustine and Maggie Smith. Singles player Grace Winter added a third win. Completing captain Kari Kiewatt's Feather Sound team are Kathy Wilson, Robyn Williams, Helen Friedman, Lori Clarke and Terry Hubener.

Also ready for the July 18-20 West Regional Tournament in Longboat Key are the Vinoy 3.0 and McMullen 4.5 women's squads and the McMullen 3.0, Treasure Bay 3.5 and PGTA 4.5 men.

The west regional teams represent Pinellas County, Tampa, Sarasota, Naples and Fort Myers. The winner advances to state competition next month with hopes of qualifying for the national championships.

© Copyright, St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.