LaPolla surprised by flex league award

By NANCY MORGAN, Times Sports Correspondent
Published January 9, 2008

When Jim LaPolla went to St. Petersburg Flex League's annual banquet last month, he expected to join tennis friends for an evening of socializing and swapping stories.

But when league director Sue DeLong announced the 2007 sportsmanship winner, LaPolla was caught offguard.

"It's quite an honor to receive the sportsmanship award, and I was totally surprised," LaPolla said. "I didn't know anything about it until Sue announced it."

DeLong said she selects the recipient based on recommendations from other league players.

LaPolla, originally from Chicago, has played in the flex league for at least 10 years, starting in the B-5 division and advancing as high as A-2. Before moving to St. Petersburg in 1992 and joining the league in 1996, LaPolla lived in Temple Terrace beginning in 1986 and was able to play tennis there only infrequently.

"When we moved here, I was looking for a place to play tennis and heard abut the league," said LaPolla, 57. "Everyone in the league I've played is hospitable and shows up to play."

When the winter session begins this month, LaPolla will be playing among the A-4 competition.

For details on the league, call 893-7755.

FLEX LEAGUE TOURNEY: The city flex league held its season-end tournament with Nik Sukhasam winning the A-division over Joe Hamilton,and Guy Lieberman beating Abdul Jones in the B.

Hamilton teamed with Dale Reed to beat Sukhasam and Virasak Boriboun in A doubles.

NET SHOTS: Alexandra Cercone, ranked No. 9 in the nation,won the girls 18-and-under singles title in last month's USTA Winter National Championships in Phoenix, Ariz.

- No. 2 Aaron Carey was the boys 10 singles winner in the New Year's Super Series at Seminole Lake Tennis Center, and then teamed with Mason Beiler to collect the doubles title. Top-seed Anastasia Nefedova won the girls 12 singles and paired with singles finalist Angel Deng to claim the doubles. Dan Stefan and Andrei Novikov,in the boys 12, were a third local doubles champ.

- Liz Schroeder, who worked the last 12 years with the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, returned to coaching tennis after being named boys and girls coach at Osceola Fundamental High.

- Longtime teaching professional Al Sarmiento returned to the St. Petersburg Tennis Center as an instructor and tournament director. For details, contact SPTC at 823-2225.

LEAGUE NEWS: Local league coordinator Ruth Ann Ott was named the first region league coordinator for USTA Florida. Ott will oversee Region 3 league activities in Pinellas, Polk, Pasco, Hernando and Hillsborough counties.

- League champs leaving for the Jan. 11-13 USTA Florida Combo Sectionals in Daytona Beach include adult teams Eastlake 6.5, Countryside 7.5 and Royal Racquet 8.5 among the women, and Countryside's 6.5 and 7.5 and McMullen 8.5 for the men. In senior competition are Treasure Island Tennis and Yacht Club 6.5, SPTC 7.5 and 8.5 women's teams and Treasure Bay 6.5 and McMullen 7.5 men's.

SAVE THE DATE: The Mike Alstott Family Foundation Charity Tennis Tournament is Feb. 15-17 at the Treasure Island Tennis and Yacht Club.

COMING UP: Nike Junior Tour Tournaments are Jan. 12-14 at Bardmoor for girls 14-and-under, McMullen for girls 12, Seminole Lake Tennis Center boys 12 and Cheval boys 14. Winners advance to the NJT International Masters Tournament in September. ... Shipwatch Tennis Club's director of tennis Kevin Manning is offering cardio tennis at 10-11 a.m. on Saturday. Cost is $5 per person. Call 596-6862 to reserve a spot.

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