Last mission to repair the Hubble telescope Hubble space telescope discoveries have enriched our understanding of the cosmos. In this special report, you will see facts about the Hubble space telescope, discoveries it has made and what the last mission's goals are.
For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
Fill out this form to email this article to a friend
At 8, she has the drive
By RODNEY PAGE, Times Staff Writer
Published October 11, 2007
Alyssa Serino, 8, drives a ball at the Dunedin Country Club. She practices with Oldsmar Christian School and also qualified as the only girl at a national chip and putt contest.
[Douglas R. Clifford | Times]
[Douglas R. Clifford | Times]
Golf coach David Williams keeps 8-year-old Alyssa Serino's head steady while she works on her putting technique.
Alyssa Serino is eight-years-old, but she already has a room full of medals and trophies from various junior golf tournaments. She quickly figured out that the first place trophies are much bigger than the others, so she is going to try to win more of those.
But perhaps the best prize she has won so far is a remote control dog she aptly named "Robot Dog."
"I was playing with my Grandpa Tony Serino and I said if I beat you on this hole then you have to buy me a toy at the store," Alyssa said. "And he said if he wins then I have to give him one of my Bridgestone golf balls. I beat him so I got to go to the store."
Don't feel bad, Tony. Alyssa, who lives in Oldsmar, has been beating plenty of kids since she discovered golf as a six-year-old. She plays on the U.S. Kids Golf tour during the summer and plays on the Greater Tampa Bay Junior Golf Association tour in the winter.
That's where the medals and trophies have come from. She also competed in the national Drive, Chip and Putt competition in Orlando this summer. She qualified by winning a local competition at Mangrove Bay Golf Course in St. Petersburg. She then made it through a regional competition in Orlando and was the only girl in her age group to qualify for the nationals at the Celebration Golf Club near Orlando.
She did not win the national competition thanks to some errant drives. The Golf Channel plans to run the competition some time in November.
Some Help From Grandpa
Alyssa gets strong support from her parents, Steve and Tonya. Steve, who is in retail with the Nestle Water Company, plays golf whenever he can.
But grandfather Tony Serino has more time to help Alyssa with golf. He retired to Palm Harbor from Massachusetts 20 years ago. He was a special agent for the Internal Revenue Service. He is also an avid golfer who plays six times per week at Dunedin Country Club.
Serino was in his garage one day with six-year-old Alyssa when she picked up one of his clubs and started swinging. He stopped what he was doing.
"I couldn't believe my eyes," Tony Serino, 75, said. "I've been trying to get a swing like that for 50 years and it came to her naturally."
That led to sessions at the St. Andrews Links driving range in Dunedin. He signed her up for lessons with David Williams at Dunedin Country Club. He promised to play golf with her one day, and once he did he vowed to help her any way possible.
"When she was seven I told her that one day I would get her out on the golf course," Tony Serino said. "So we were out at St. Andrews Links and it was summer and the course was desolate. We went out and played and after five holes she said, 'Grandpa, isn't it nice just you and I playing golf together.' I could've melted right there."
Tony Serino caddies for Alyssa at junior golf tournaments. He calls her "Plan B." His daughter, Donna, didn't discover golf until she was 27. Now she is a golf instructor in Boca Raton and a former member of the LPGA Futures Tour.
Serino knows if his daughter would have discovered golf earlier she could've gone even further. So now he makes himself available to Alyssa whenever possible.
"I'll give it all up to go watch Alyssa play," Tony said. "I love being out there with her."
Playing With the Big Boys
Monday was match day at Oldsmar Christian School. Alyssa is a third grader. She is also the only third grader with an OCS Golf Team shirt.
"Everybody is like, 'You're on the golf team?,' she said. "I'm like, yes, I'm on the golf team."
While she can't play in any tournaments (An FHSAA rule states a student must be in sixth grade before competing in a varsity sport), she does practice with the team. And she hits from the white tees like everyone else.
"When I first went out there we were teeing off and the boy who went before me hit it like two yards or something," Alyssa said. "And then I teed off and, "whoosh," right down the middle. So then they didn't think it was strange that I was out there."
That doesn't surprise Williams, the Dunedin CC instructor. He's worked with her for two years and knows how good she can be.
"She's a real competitor," Williams said. "She has a very natural swing, so we've really only done some tweaking. The thing that is unique about her is her aggression. She isn't afraid to take a hard swing at the ball. That's unusual.
"And she never gets upset. If she hits a bad shot, she just moves on to the next shot. That's very important. Personally, I'm still working on that and she already has it down."
The Future is so Bright...
It's no surprise that when Alyssa grows up she wants to be a professional golfer. Her favorite golfer is Tiger Woods, although she also likes Michelle Wie.
Alyssa actually had a chance to meet Woods in Orlando. Ad executives were looking for a young female golfer to pair with Woods for a video game commercial. People in Orlando gave the executives Alyssa's number to see if she could come to Orlando the next day to audition.
Unfortunately, Alyssa broke her right arm falling off the monkey bars and had a cast. She couldn't make it.
"I wanted to take a saw and get that cast off," Steve Serino said.
Alyssa also plays softball and soccer, but her main sport is golf. She will continue to play in junior golf tournaments and looks forward to the day she can join her high school team full time.
"The thing I like most about golf is having fun," Alyssa said. "I like how it teaches you to be honest. It's just really fun."