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Tennis phenoms thrive at state meet

Friends Stacia Fonseca and Brianna Williams finished first and fourth at this year's championship.

By TERRY JONES

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 25, 2000


CARROLLWOOD -- After an easy start, Carrollwood youth tennis player Stacia Fonseca had to battle from behind to win the age 14-and-under United States Tennis Association Section 6 and Florida state championship Thursday in Orlando.

She got a bye in the first match and won her second and third matches 6-0, 6-1. She won two more rounds handily.

But the title match was a big battle with Alexis Conill of Fort Lauderdale. Conill won the first set 6-4, and Fonseca came back to take the second set 6-1 and the third 6-4.

Fonseca entered the tournament ranked 47th in the nation for her age group and 12th in the state. She should move up when the new rankings come out in July.

"The championship match was very difficult, but I thrive on a strong challenge," Fonseca said. "I focus better and get a real thrill when forced to battle from behind, knowing I could be beaten if I don't do my best. Now I have three very tough national tournaments ahead, and I will be training hard to be ready."

Those include the Florida Open, the USTA (National) Clay Court Championships and the USTA National Championships.

The Florida Open is set for July 2-8 in Fort Myers for girls 15-and-under, the clay court national meet is July 16-22 in Plantation, and the national championships, also known as the hard-court meet, are scheduled for August 7-14 in Atlanta.

Her sectional and state title victory qualified her for the three national meets.

Brianna Williams, another Carrollwood area resident and a friend of Fonseca's, placed fourth in the meet. Both locals hope to play as freshmen next year at Gaither High.

In her third match of the tournament, Williams knocked off the top player in the state, Gabriella Braga of Miami 6-4, 6-3, before falling to Fonseca 6-1, 6-3 in the quarterfinals.

Fonseca donated her large state championship trophy to Buchanan Middle School, where she graduated in May.

"Because the officials at the school were so cooperative in adjusting her schedule so she could travel and compete so much in the past few years, we wanted to share the state championship with them," said Raul Fonseca, Stacia's father. "They were all so understanding and helpful."

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