For the third consecutive year, Ace Performance Tennis hosted the Junior Doubles Tennis Tournament at Delta Woods Park in Spring Hill.
The event, held Saturday, included 20 teams spread across four divisions, the middle school boys and girls and high school boys and girls. The 40 individual entries from Pasco and Hernando counties represented a 40 percent increase in the number of participants in 2007. This was surprising to organizer Louise Downey, especially in these hard economic times.
"We were really surprised at the turnout," Downey said. "Our goal with this tournament is to give kids the rare opportunity to play in a doubles format."
Most sanctioned tournaments for youths at these ages are individual tournaments. Once these kids join their school teams, they need to play doubles to earn points for their teams. Downey, along with her husband, John, hoped to expose players to doubles, so they'll be prepared once they joined their school programs.
And it seems Ace Performance Tennis is doing just that.
Andrew Lund and Tyler Schwefringhaus, both sophomores at Nature Coast Technical High, won the High School Boys Division in a marathon match with Lucas Loman and Jurgens VanZyl (2-6, 7-6, 10-8). Lund and Schwefringhaus are prime examples of what the Downeys hoped to accomplish with this tournament.
"Tyler and I are pretty familiar with each other from the work we did together in Junior Team Tennis," Lund said. "We've really improved our play with the drills we do during the week with (the Downeys)."
Lund has been working with Ace Performance for about three years now, and Schwefringhaus has attended multiple camps held by the organization. Both are members of the USTA Junior Team Tennis program and will be attending the USTA Sectionals in Daytona in January along with 45 other youth players.
Cassie Love and Delanie McCabe took top honors in the High School Girls Division with a straight sets victory over Shelby Marrero and Chasity Edwards in the final (6-2, 6-4). Love, an eighth-grader at Fox Chapel Middle, moved up to the high school level so she could team with McCabe, a freshman at Nature Coast.
Love and McCabe have been training together for about two years. Neither wanted to split, and coaches were confident Love would hold her own in the high school field.
They were right. The duo dominated the three-team division.
"At first, I thought it would be more of a challenge to win in (the High School Division)," Love said. "Delanie helped me so much because of how supportive she is on the court."
The Middle School Boys Division featured Carl Zee and Adam Schuster, two students from Challenger K-8, defeating Kyle Bugden and Christopher Rosser (6-4, 6-3) in the championship match. Zee and Schuster both work with coach Brett Teitelman on the Challenger team. The two have been doubles partners for a couple of years, giving them a leg up on the competition.
The largest field was the Middle School Girls Division. There were seven tandems in that field with Leah Barry and Nicovi Singh rising to the occasion. Barry and Singh were the only duo not seeded No. 1 to win a title. The team beat top-seeds Madeline Pickersgill and Brigitte Weigl to win the crown.
Barry, who attends Powell Middle, and Nicovi, who attends Challenger, teamed up through a connection they attained through the many programs offered by Ace Performance Tennis and the Nature Coast Tennis Foundation in Hernando County.
"Every single player that competed (in the tournament) has the potential to be what I call a competitive player," Downey said. "Competitive players need to compete two to three times a week and have the mental drive to be at their best on the court."
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