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College won't separate lifelong friends

Zephyrhills' Courtney Dwyer and Chris Black will attend Florida Gulf Coast University, where Dwyer will play tennis and Black will play golf.

By STEVE LEE

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 19, 2001


ZEPHYRHILLS -- On the court, Chris Black and Courtney Dwyer have been pals since the age of 6 when they were playing partners in tournaments. Off the court, they are lifelong friends who have occasionally dated. They even played the King and Queen of Hearts in Alice and Wonderland as fifth-graders at Woodland Elementary School.

Their friendship continued to grow as each exceled playing for the East Pasco Tennis Association and Zephyrhills. Now, the seniors will not be far apart in college.

Wednesday, surrounded by their families in Dan Dwyer's Dade City law office, Black and Dwyer signed partial academic/athletic scholarships to attend Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers.

But there is one catch. Dwyer intends to continue her tennis career at the Division II school while Black, a dual-sport star at Zephyrhills, will hang up the racket for a set of golf clubs since he was recruited as a golfer.

Dwyer, however, feels she and Black will meet on the court once in a while for a match.

"It's going to be good having someone there that I'll know," said Black, who invited Dwyer to join him on a January visit to the campus of the third-year school.

After touring the campus together, Dwyer, who had previously inquired about Florida Gulf Coast's tennis program, received a call on her cell phone from women's coach Fred Drilling.

She told Drilling she was in Fort Myers and returned to campus to meet the coach.

"On the way home," Dwyer recalled, "Chris and I said, 'This is it. It's fate. We have to do this."'

"I told her she should come down there and look at (the school)," Black said. "She got down there and she loved it."

Dwyer plans to major in television broadcasting and journalism while Black plans to be a business major.

Unlike Dwyer, who lost in the district semifinals Tuesday, Black still has some business to attend to after qualifying for the state tournament for the second consecutive year.

This time, Black, the Class 2A, District 6 No. 1 singles champ, and Chris Hinkle, his partner on the district-winning No. 1 doubles team, will be at the state tournament in Jacksonville. Last year, Black opted for a family vacation during the state series.

"My goal all season was to get back to states and see how my game is against the good players," Black said.

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