Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Strong will, hard work

Danielle Collins, 16, is No. 1 in the country in the USTA girls 18 rankings. She took over that spot after winning the USTA National Spring Championships last month in Mobile, Ala. “When I was younger I thought all the girls were a lot better than me,” she says. “But I worked harder than them. Eventually I caught up to them.’’

RODNEY PAGE | Times

Danielle Collins, 16, is No. 1 in the country in the USTA girls 18 rankings. She took over that spot after winning the USTA National Spring Championships last month in Mobile, Ala. “When I was younger I thought all the girls were a lot better than me,” she says. “But I worked harder than them. Eventually I caught up to them.’’

It is 2003, and Danielle Collins is in third grade. There is a show and share, and fellow student Garrett Betsarakis is getting applause from his classmates for all the tennis trophies he won.

Collins is not clapping.

"She was crying because they cheered for him and not for her,'' said her father, Wally Collins. "She just thought they handed you those trophies. I told her that's not the way it worked. You have to earn them.''

That was all the motivation Collins needed. She and her father would hit balls at local courts like Denver Park, Puryear Park, Crescent Lake and Woodlawn. By age 10, she was beating her dad, as well as most other girls in the area.

Pretty soon she was playing up in age group. Now 16, Collins plays local and national tournaments in the 18-year-old age group. After winning the USTA National Spring Championships on March 26-28 in Mobile, Ala., Collins vaulted to No. 1 in the country in the USTA girls 18 rankings. In the country.

"I set my goal to be No. 1 in the country in the 18s when I was 16,'' Collins said. "But I didn't think I'd get there. I didn't expect it. It's kind of a shock to me. Wow, I won a super national. Now what?

"I've got to keep up the hard work. I need to find a new goal to set.''

Collins is known by most of the local tennis community. She trains all around town, but mostly at the Racquet Club of St. Petersburg and at Bardmoor Country Club.

She puts in between three and five hours of practice per day with hitting partner Nick Berning. Practice doesn't bother her. She knows it's necessary in order to stay on top.

"I don't see myself as being really, really talented,'' Collins said. "I just think that I've put in a lot of hard work and it's paid off. When I was younger I thought all the girls were a lot better than me. But I worked harder than them. Eventually I caught up to them.''

Collins is in a good spot. She is a couple years from making a choice on college or professional tennis, and she is playing on the Northeast High tennis team. She was homeschooled by her mother, Cathy, but decided to go to public school this year.

"Homeschooling was really boring,'' she said. "I hated it; I missed my friends. I decided to go back to school.

"I get really into high school matches. I love it. I don't know why. I guess I like the atmosphere. I've got my eye on the state championship.''

Collins said she will decide later about college or pro tennis. Until then, she plans to work on her mental and physical game.

"I think I lack confidence,'' Collins said. "I get nervous. I get really down on myself. I'm kind of a perfectionist. It's bad. I have a problem with that. But I think that's why I'm where I am.''

More tennis

Jade Smith of St. Petersburg won the girls 14 singles championship at the Harbour Island Athletic Club Local Tournament on Feb. 13-15. Smith was the No. 2 seed and defeated Senka Radovic 2-6, 6-4, 10-6.

• The Clearwater Junior Local Spring Classic was held March 25-27. The boys 18 singles winner was Jimmi Parsons, the 16 winner was Christopher Pollan, the 14 winner was Evan Holvoet, the 12 winner was Peter Litsky and the 10 winner was Christopher Reilly. On the girls side, the 18 singles champ was Alexandra Kitchen, the 16 winner was Ann-Marie Mooney, the 14 winner was Sarah Yaffe, the 12 winner was Chrysoula Kapelonis and the 10 winner was Gracyn Williams.

• The East Lake Spring Jr. Rookie Tournament was held March 27-28 at East Lake Woodlands CC. The boys 16 singles winner was Justin White, the 12 winner was Todd Kaiser and the 10 winner was Toby Kodat. The girls 16 winner was Sarah Wall, the 14 winner was Caroline Beck, the 12 winner was Carly Spoerl and the 10 winner was Sanyukta Gawande.

Golf

Matthew Ruel of Oldsmar won the Premier Junior Golf Tour's Spring Classic at Belleair Country Club. Ruel, 12, shot 80 to win the tournament, his second straight on the Premier Tour.

• Largo Golf Course held its bimonthly 18-hole scramble March 27. The team of Greg Farrey (Seminole), Mike Monahan (Largo) and Denny Dorn (Largo) won the event with a score of 46.

Gymnastics

The Tampa Bay Turners of St. Petersburg won two state titles at the Florida State Championships in Daytona Beach on March 27. The Level 7 and prep optional teams were state champions. Prep optional winners were Emily Kate Swan (beam, floor), Makayla Adams (vault, bars, beam, all-around), Hannah Mixson (bars, floor, all-around), Alaina Massaro (bars) and Cassidy Slockett (floor). Level 7 winners were Emily Long (floor), Emily Broida (beam, floor, all-around), Thea Fries (floor) and Nathania Beltran (vault). Broida qualified for the Florida State Team for Level 7 regionals and Long, Beltran, Charity Chen and Sarah Boyd qualified for Level 7 region competition in Tupelo, Miss., on April 16-18.

• Apollo Gymnastics of Clearwater also competed in Daytona Beach. Lillian Zeman was first in the state on bars and Lucia Russo was first on bars. Zeman and Jacklyn McGonigle qualified for the region meet in Tupelo.

Strong will, hard work 04/03/10 [Last modified: Friday, April 2, 2010 12:04am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Cup-winning Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk makes Hockey Hall of Fame

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman said Dave Andreychuk's name has surfaced often the past eight years with the selection committee.

    30 Oct 2001:  Left wing Dave Andreychuk #25 of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates towards the blue line during the NHL game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada.  The Maple Leafs defeated the Lightning 3-2.  Mandatory Credit:  Dave Sanford /Allsport
  2. Rays acquire slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria from Marlins

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Chaim Bloom said the Rays weren't necessarily in the market for a shortstop. The team has a number of those. But when the Marlins recently began shopping Adeiny Hechavarria, well, that was too much to pass up.

    Adeiny Hechavarria has emerged as one of baseball’s top defensive shortstops in the past three seasons with the Marlins.
  3. Rays at Pirates, 7:05 p.m. Tuesday, Pittsburgh

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Pirates

    7:05, PNC Park

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: Alex Cobb (6-5, 4.05)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  4. Lightning journal: Forward Yanni Gourde agrees to two-year deal

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Just three years ago, Yanni Gourde was fighting to stay in pro hockey.

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Yanni Gourde celebrates after scoring against the Florida Panthers during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 11, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA108
  5. What they're saying about Dave Andreychuk making Hall of Fame

    Lightning Strikes

    "Dave helped me so much when I was just starting my career, a young kid that was looking to find his way as a hockey player, a person and a member of the Tampa Bay community. In addition to watching him compile such awe-inspiring statistics, I remember him as a big brother to me and many others, making sure all the …