The Palm Harbor Nighthawks under 10 girls soccer team wanted to give coach Gerald Czaja a Valentine's Day present. The players figured the best way to do that was to win the Tampa Bay Classic under-10 girls tournament on Feb. 13-14. After four wins, two Saturday and two Sunday, the Nighthawks earned the trophy.
It was the club's second tournament win since forming two years ago, but it was the first championship Czaja has coached. In the other championship more than a year ago, Czaja was out of town and assistant coach Keith Barbaccia led the victory.
"That's been kind of a running joke,'' Czaja said. "The only championship they won and I was out of town. So this one is special, although the girls did all the work. I just stayed on the sidelines and yelled at them.''
Palm Harbor started the tournament with a 4-3 win over Wesley Chapel. Then came a 2-2 tie against host Plant City. On Sunday, Palm Harbor played rival East Lake and won 6-4. Already in the final, the Nighthawks waited to learn their opponent, which turned out to be East Lake again.
In the rematch, Palm Harbor trailed 2-0 at halftime but tied the score at 2. The winner came on a blast by Alivia Gonzalaz to give the Nighthawks a 3-2 win.
The nine girls on the team are Daniella Altamura, Taylor Baksay, Kaylyn Burroughs, Mackenzie Cumings, Avery Enlow, Jillian Fragale, Isabel Fraley, Oriana Garcia and Gonzalaz.
Czaja doesn't have a daughter on the team, but that doesn't keep him from being involved.
"I just love the game,'' he said. "I don't have any kids yet, so I like being out there with them.''
The latest Largo Golf Course biweekly 18-hole scramble was held on Saturday, Feb. 13. The scramble, which is open to the public, had a total of eight teams (29 players). The team of Dave Nagy (St. Petersburg), Rick Creech (Largo) and Bob Panko (Seminole) won the event with a score of 50 (12 under par). During the tournament, Jeff Davis of Largo recorded a hole-in-one on the 155-yard fourth hole with a 5-iron.
• Cypress Run held its men's club championship on Feb. 14. Neil Vanleeuwen defeated Ron Salhany in a 36-hole final match. In other brackets, Frank Zepf won the Sam Snead flight, John Geheb won the Byron Nelson flight and Gerry Turtora won the Ben Hogan flight.
The USTA National Open for 14-year-old girls was held on Feb. 13-17 at Bardmoor Tennis Club in Largo. In the singles final, Julia O'Loughlin defeated Rianna Valdes 7-5, 7-6 (7-2). In doubles, Alexandra Baer and Alexandria Najarian defeated Savannah Durkin and Johnnise Renaud 8-4.
• The Largo Tennis Center will be hosting Tennis Night in America from 5-7:30 p.m. on Monday, March 1. Parents and kids are invited to help kick off the 2010 youth season as part of the USTA's National Youth Registration Night Initiative. Play tennis, have fun and enjoy pizza, prizes, games and QuickStart Tennis demos. For more information about this event, call 518-3125 or visit www.largotennis.com.
Kudos to the Oak Grove Middle School Golden Knights for winning the Pinellas County Central Division championship with a 10-0 record. Members of the team are Cody Carden, Armin Tabakovic, Juan Rivera, Mevlut Dauti, Adam Harris, Casey Kennedy, Raymond Johnson, Alex Davis, Marcus Budd, Scott McElravy, Jordan Leston, Rasim Avmet, Dominic Haggerty, Darien Asberry and Dakarai Allen. The coaches are Jamey Baby and Dave Cory.
The Big East vs. Big Ten baseball challenge will be held Feb. 26-28 at various venues in Pinellas County. Games will be played at the Naimoli Complex, Progress Energy Park and Jack Russell Stadium in Clearwater. All Big Ten teams except Wisconsin will play (Wisconsin does not field a varsity baseball team). Big East teams playing are South Florida, Connecticut, St. John's, Seton Hall, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Louisville, Rutgers, Villanova and Notre Dame. For information and complete schedules, go to www.bigtenbigeastchallenge.com.
Rodney Page can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org