tampabay.com

Dvorak's freshman year a revelation

What started as just "something fun and challenging" is much more for Lindsay Dvorak.

By CHRIS GIRANDOLA
Published May 25, 2005


ST. PETERSBURG - Robert and Kim Dvorak aren't typical tennis parents.

They knew their daughter, Lindsay, had grown bored of gymnastics and hated cheerleading. Dancing and ballet were out of the question.

Then Kim got a flyer in the mail about an after-school tennis program at Fossil Park. But it wasn't as if they were trying to create the next Maria Sharapova.

"Lindsay just wanted and needed something fun and challenging," Kim Dvorak said. "I never could have imagined we'd be where we are today."

She can say that again.

Only a freshman, Dvorak dominated the competition in Pinellas County this season on her way to an undefeated season and district championship. She led the Green Devils to similar heights - their second straight undefeated season and another district title under coach Alan Turnquist.

Dvorak reached the second round of regions before losing to eventual champion Brianna Cye from Miami Northwest. In doubles, Dvorak partnered with Caitlein Jammo and made the state semifinals.

Dvorak has quickly blossomed into one of the best players in the state, with a USTA ranking of 18 for girls 16 and under.

"Lindsay's one of those players who you wish you could play like," said Turnquist, the Times county coach of the year. "She plays a smart brand of tennis and has developed an instinct for how the game is played."

Once the Dvoraks knew they had something special, they turned to Krishnan Anandan, a tennis pro at the Seminole Lake Country Club, to take her game to the next level.

Anandan did just that, as she quickly entered the top 100 in Florida for girls 10 and under.

"Lindsay was an incredibly hard worker," said Anandan, who taught Dvorak for five years but has recently moved to Pittsburgh. "There would often be times where we would be close to the end of a lesson and she wanted to make sure she perfected what we had worked on. She would beg me to keep teaching her but I had other lessons. She'd say, "Well, I'll come back at the end.' And, it never failed, she'd be there at 8 p.m., back to finish."

Dvorak continues to train at the St. Petersburg Tennis Center, where Shikha Singh, Tommy Thompson and Marton Balla have created an intense training program. She has a daily routine that includes a one-hour individual session in the morning and three hours of group training in the afternoon. And at the end of each session, every athlete must help clean and prepare the courts for the next day.

But, through all her success, the blond, blue-eyed 5-foot-6 teen still presents a selfless attitude.

Dvorak, 15, did not play every match his season for St. Petersburg, because the Green Devils rarely needed her. No prima donna, Dvorak continued to root on her teammates, even those who rarely played unless Turnquist was sitting his regulars, and never acted like a No. 1.

"Can you please, please, please mention my best friend, Michelle Menke," Dvorak asked with a smile. "She's the No. 6 at St. Pete but she's, like, the best in the whole world."

The good news for Turnquist is he gets to coach Dvorak the next three seasons. Even better, the family's tennis talent appears to run deep. Younger brother Tyler and sister Emily are both state-ranked players in their respective age groups.

Talent is nice, but Dvorak is quick to say her competitive nature and a tireless work ethic are key to her success.

That competitive streak extends into the classroom, where she had a 4.0 GPA in her first year of high school.

"I don't know what it is, but I just love to compete," she said after practice at the St. Petersburg Tennis Center. "Whether it's tennis, bowling, cards, board games, I hate to lose."