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Recreation: Junior tennis players emerge at Orange Bowl tournament

December in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area brings some of the best junior players in the world to the Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships and the Junior Orange Bowl International Championships.

More than 200 participants in each tournament descend on South Florida for the weeklong events.

The junior event is for players age 12-15, while the regular event is for 16-18.

Some local players fared well at the junior event, which was Dec. 17-23 in Coral Gables. Pasadena's Dan Stefan competed in the boys 12 main draw and won six matches in the consolation rounds to qualify for the main draw. He then lost two straight matches to finish 6-2.

Palm Harbor's Anastasia Nefedova won six of seven matches in the consolation rounds. She then made it to the field of 64 before losing.

Considering that the best juniors in the country circle this tournament on their calendar, finishing with a winning record is an accomplishment.

More tennis

Skyler Fanning of St. Petersburg had a good run in two doubles tournaments during the holidays. Fanning and his doubles partner, Justin Sacks of Wellington, won the boys 12 doubles in the Winter at Winter Haven Super Series Dec. 20-22. The following week, Fanning teamed with Beau Langford of St. Petersburg to win the boys 14 doubles championship at the Seminole Lake Tennis Center New Year's Super Series, Dec. 26-28.

• Speaking of the Seminole Lake New Year's event, a full field of juniors competed over the holidays. In the boys 18 singles, Tianyu Bao won in three sets. In the boys 16 singles, Arsav Mohanty won when top seed Ben Hwang had to withdraw. In the 14 singles, Alexandru Gozun was the winner, Marius Ruzgas won the boys 12 singles and the boys 10 singles winner was Mason Beiler. The girls 18 singles champ was top seed Danielle Collins, the 16 singles winner was Anapaula Pintado, the 14 winner was top seed Lisa Carvajal, the 12 winner was Ashley Bongart and the 10 winner was Shachaamah Brown.


How is this for a Christmas present: Art Merten of Largo got two holes-in-one on the same hole at Palm Hill Country Club on Dec. 26.

Merten plays 18 holes six days a week at the nine-hole executive course in Largo. He was playing with his regular group, "The Bandits,'' when he aced the par-3, 70-yard third hole during the morning round. In the afternoon, he did it again.

Both were made with a pitching wedge. Merten claims they were his 38th and 39th holes-in-one.

• There were two aces on Dec. 28 at Largo Municipal Golf Course. Rose Cline of Seminole aced the 75-yard third hole using a 5-wood. Peter Craske of Clearwater aced the 110-yard seventh using a 7-iron.


The Level 3 team from LaFleur's Gymnastics Club of Largo placed first in the state meet Dec. 13 and 14 in Punta Gorda. Individual state champions include Juliete Guzman (beam, floor, all-around), Madelyn Sarlo (vault, floor), Delaney Staack (bars, all-around), Myah Luper (vault), Haley Wilt (floor) and Molli Dodaro (vault).


The Clearwater Shuffleboard club hosted a Florida State Amateur doubles tournament Dec. 22. The winning team was Dave Clark of Largo and Fred Pestke of Pinellas Park. Winners in the consolation division were Betty and Rick Lynes of Largo. Overall, 72 amateurs from around Florida participated.


Here's a little something out of the ordinary, but perhaps one of your New Year's resolutions was to learn how to ride a unicycle. Dondi Gutierrez has a class at Clearwater's Ross Norton Recreation and Aquatic Center that teaches participants. The course takes place from 7-8:45 p.m. on Thursdays and is open to youth and adults. For information, call 462-6025.

Rodney Page can be reached at

Recreation: Junior tennis players emerge at Orange Bowl tournament 01/03/09 [Last modified: Saturday, January 3, 2009 3:31am]
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