Mason Beiler was 4 years old when he knew he wanted to be a tennis player. He saw a jogger in his Palm Harbor neighborhood and asked his mother, Marianne, what she did. Turns out she was a tennis player, and she pointed Mason to her coach, Eugene Nefedov.
Beiler took to the game immediately.
"He had a gift,'' Marianne Beiler said. "His coach called him the golden boy.''
Six months after learning the basics, Mason Beiler started playing tournaments. A few months later he started winning. That was it. He was hooked.
"It made me want to play more tennis,'' said Beiler, who practices twice a day five days a week. "It gave me confidence that I could play against kids my age.''
Since then, Beiler has been one of the better players in the area. In April he rose to No. 1 in the USTA Florida rankings for 10-year-olds. His latest win came at the Florida State Junior Closed Championship in Altamonte Springs, where he was the boys 10 champion.
Beiler has had a string of wins throughout the year. He won the boys 12 Super Series in April in Sarasota. He also won the boys 10 Winter Designated in Clearwater, the boys 14 Northdale Winter Local Championship, the boys 12 Super Series at East Lake Country Club and the boys 10 Orange County Designated in Orlando.
Next up is the 12-under nationals in July in Dothan, Ala. That will be Beiler's biggest test, but he's too young to get nervous. He knows he is a good tennis player and he shows up at tournaments oozing confidence.
"It's a very cool feeling knowing that when I go to a tournament there isn't anybody there better than me,'' Beiler said with a laugh. "But it's also a challenge because everyone wants to beat you.''
Matthew Ruel of Oldsmar shot 78-76–154 for a four-shot victory at the Premier Junior Tour tournament at the Independence Golf Course in Reunion. Ruel also shot 74 to win the U.S. Kids junior event at the Eagles Lakes Course.
• The American Junior Golf Association held a Florida Junior event at Weston Hills Country Club last week. The winner was Domenico Geminiani of Bradenton, who shot a three-day total 208 to win by four. Locally, Jack Maguire of St. Petersburg was tied for third at 217.
• The County Golf Association held its weekly tournament at Mangrove Bay Golf Course in Largo. The gross regular division winner was Brent Shaw, who shot 74. The net winner was Gary Shellenberger, who shot 65. The senior gross winner was Bill Johnson, who shot 74. The net winner was Rob Hoover, who shot 66. The ladies champion was Laura Furtek, who shot 70.
• The Largo Golf Course biweekly scramble was held on June 19. The scramble, which is open to the public, had a total of seven teams (28 players). The team of Jay Snivley (Largo), Dino Daminato (Seminole), Bill Keim (Largo) and Gerald Marquardt (Largo) won the event with a score of 12-under 50.
The Clearwater Junior Hot Shot Super Series was held on June 19-21. The boys 18 singles winner was Christian Deisler, the 16 winner was Colin Roller, the 14 winner was Dan Stefan, the 12 winner was Sean Burnette and the 10 winner was Victor Stoyanov. The girls 18 singles champ was Amy Lowther, the 16 winner was Angel Deng, the 14 winner was Julianna Curtis, the 12 winner was Erica Oosterhaut and the 10 winner was Sanyukta Gawande.
• The Serve Into Summer Rookie tournament was held at the Largo Tennis Center on June 19-20. The boys 14 singles winner was Jordan Coe, the 12 winner was Coley Hungate and the 10 winner was Joseph Keyser. The girls 12 singles winner was Lauren Adams and the 10 winner was Perri Howard.
Ten Pin Lanes in St. Petersburg holds weekly league competitions. Last week's high scores were Justin Veitch, with a 298 game and 798 series. The women's high score was Tanya Veitch, who had a 246 high game and 675 series. In senior men, Bob Williard bowled a 259 game and 696 series, the senior women's high score was Ester Motzne with a 209 game and 502 series. The youth seniors high score was 246 by Glen Hewlett Jr. and a 649 series.