For some, school days delayed by national tourneys

Published August 9, 2006

While most Pinellas youth are settling into the school year this week, about 20 area tennis players have traveled to the USTA National Hard Court Championships.

National tournaments are being held through this weekend at various clubs from Peachtree, Ga., to San Jose, Calif.

Among the dozen girls and seven boys invited to nationals based on their state ranking are Alexandra Cercone and Lindsay Dvorak, competing in the girls 16-and-under tournament in San Diego.

"I reached the round of 16 last year, so I want to advance further," said No. 5 seed Cercone, 14. "I think I play better on the hard courts because I have better results on them. The biggest difference for me is that I can't slide on the hard courts, and I get used to that playing on the clay courts."

Cercone, ranked No. 1 in the state in the 14 division and No. 3 in the 16, plans to play doubles with Jackie Kasler of Gulf Breeze.

Florida's No. 2-ranked Danielle Collins and Julia Claire Jones will compete in the girls 12 at the University of Kentucky complex in Lexington. Emily Dvorak, Kayla Rizzolo, Becky Bodine and Abby Wright are in Peachtree for the girls 14 competition.

Morgan Frank and Alexis Dorr are among the 192 players in San Jose for the girls 18.

"I'm definitely looking forward to competing and playing against different people with different styles," said Emily Dvorak, 13. "To get ready for the hard court, I've worked on my net game every day and have practiced on hard courts a lot. I think hard courts are my best surface because I like to hit hard."

Florida's No. 5 Garrett Betsarakis flew to San Antonio on Friday for the boys 14 national event. Kelly Donaldson is also among the 192 singles competitors.

"This is my first time to the national hard courts, and I've been working on my serve for it," said Betsarakis, 14. "I'm more comfortable playing on the clay court, and feel my game is really more suited to the clay-court surface. I need to use a big serve and take the ball earlier to end the points faster to be successful."

Also at nationals: Alexander Domijan and Joel Samaha in the boys 16 and Clint Bowles, Jeff Dadamo and Johnny Hamui in the boys 18 in Kalamazoo, Mich.

Singles and doubles play continues in all divisions through Saturday. Then, it's back to school.

LEAGUE NEWS: USTA Adult Mixed Doubles is forming its "early start" fall season. Teams consist of three doubles positions in the 5.0, 6.0, 7.0, 8.0, 9.0 and 10.0 National Tennis Ratings Program levels. Play will be Friday evenings and perhaps Sundays at noon. For details, contact coordinator Linda Meehan at 823-6672 or meehan100@yahoo.com.

* A Prince doubles league for men and women is slated to begin next month. Men will play Wednesday evenings and women Friday mornings or Saturdays at 1 p.m.

Teams consist of three doubles positions. For information, call 813 289-7865 or go to www. princetennisleague.com.

NET SHOTS: The USTA Florida Recreational Coach Workshop will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 19 at the St. Petersburg Tennis Center. The workshop is one of more than 180 being held throughout the nation.

Teachers, coaches and anyone interested in recreational tennis programming are encouraged to attend this interactive, on-court training. Cost is $25 and includes training materials, lessons plans, sample equipment and lunch.

To register, contact site director Julie Panton by phone at 744-3699 or e-mail julikens@verizon.net or call SPTC at 823-2225.

* Local players at last weekend's First Coast Junior Designated in Jacksonville included Robert Dvorak in boys 12, Anthony Barrancotto and Kosuke Hasegawa in the 14, Paul Polarczyk and Istvan Bolgar the 18, Kara Kucin the girls 16, Shaunte Southern the 14 and Anastasia Nefedova the 10.

Nefedova won the title in a third-set tiebreak over the No. 2 seed. Kucin reached the final and lost in three sets. Reaching the round of 16 in their respective division were Dvorak and Southern. Quarterfinalists included top seed Barrancotto and No. 10 Hasegawa. Polarczyk and Bolgar were in Monday's semifinal round.

COMING UP: Hot, Hot, Hot Rookie Tournament for juniors begins Saturday at Southwest Complex in Largo. Call 518-3125. ... Royal Racquet Club hosts the Florida State Closed Championships Mixed Doubles and the Summer Classic Designated in men's and women's singles this weekend. Call 799-3200. ... The Summer Local Junior Championships is at East Lake Woodlands this weekend. Call 785-2212.

News for this column may be faxed to Nancy Morgan, 445-4119; e-mailed to namorgan@tampa bay.rr.com; or sent to 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756. Please include phone number.