BRANDON _ For Sewsankar, Wanda, and Sabrina Maharaj, Brandon area tennis has been an everyday family affair for the past nine years. Sewsankar, or Sew, as he is known, was born in Trinidad, and tennis has been a major part of his life since age six.
Sew and Wanda met in 1972 while playing for Miami Dade Junior College, and the couple was married Nov. 17, 1973. They worked together teaching tennis for the Dade County Recreation Department until moving here to become the tennis pros at the Brandon Swim and Tennis Club.
Sabrina Maharaj started playing tennis before she grew taller than a racquet is long. She is currently ranked 35th in Florida in the 12-and-under girls, one of the toughest amateur youth tennis circuits in the country.
"My parents were born in Trinidad, but my grandparents were from India," Sew said. "That is the origin of the name Maharaj for someone from Trinidad. When I was 6, my brother and I were playing on a court one night at the club our dad belonged to. The pro there thought we were just two kids horsing around on the courts so he turned out the lights on us.
"Our dad got mad and built a hard court at our home and myself and my four brothers and two sisters have been active in tennis ever since."
Sew's dad, Dipnarine, added a clay court and a couple of other hard courts to the one already in his yard and teaches tennis full time in Trinidad.
At the end of 1983, the Maharaj family moved here to coach and teach at the Maharaj Tennis Club on Knowles Road in Bloomingdale. That Club is now named Hidden Palms Racquet Club.
In November, 1987, Sew became the pro for Buckhorn Springs Golf and Tennis Club on Miller Road in Valrico, then in October 1988 bought the Brandon Racquet Club at 1428 North Valrico Road and changed the name to Maharaj Tennis and Country Club.
From 1984-87, Wanda was the Brandon High School girls tennis coach.
"We had some excellent players during those years," Wanda said. "In '85 and '86 we won districts and qualified for state. In '85 we also won the conference title. In the four years our team record was 41-4 and our individual matches were 267-54."
Before becoming a professional coach and teacher in tennis, Sew played the pro-circuit for one year.
"I was unable to raise the support needed to stay on the circuit," Sew said. "So Wanda and I made the decision to pursue our careers in teaching and coaching."
Currently, women's leagues compete at the Maharaj Tennis and Country Club on Tuesday evenings and Thursday mornings as part of the Tampa Tennis Association (TTA).
"We now have Saturday morning league competition for men and we are working on an evening men's league also," Maharaj said. "In March, TTA is supposed to become part of the United States Tennis Association (USTA) Volvo Tennis League and that will include us."
Toddler wrestlers: Highly successful amateur wrestling coach Russ Cozart will start work with youth wrestlers in the Brandon Wrestling Club in March. And this year he is adding something new.
Toddler wrestling will be taught for children ages 4-6.
"This is a new thing we hope will be fun and instructive for the little kids," Cozart said. "Anyway we are going to see how much interest there is and try it."
Sign-up times are as follows:
Beginners classes for kids ages 7-14 will be March 6 and March 8, from 5-6:30 p.m. in the Brandon High School gym.
Intermediate wrestlers in the same age categories will sign-up March 5, from 5-6 p.m. at Brandon.
The new toddlers class sign-up time is March 9, from 4-5 p.m. at Brandon.
The cost for registration for the toddlers is $16 and for all other it is $22. The cost will be determined by the size of the class.
Maddux wins basketball title: The Maddux Private School Trojans recently captured the Florida West Coast League basketball championship with a 44-24 win over Mary Help of Christians.
Maddux completed its season 12-0 in league competition and 15-1 overall.
Seventh grader Jeremy Church led the Trojans offense averaging more than 14-points per game for a season total of 229.
Fellow seventh graders Barry Morris and Mike Camus led the team in rebounds averaging 10 apiece..
"We use a motion offense and five different variations of a zone defense," fifth year coach Richard Kreiling said. "The motion offense basically teaches the kids to move to the open court. We scored 478 points for the season and held our opponents to an average of 15-points per game."