Christa Grey has earned an unprecedented "triple crown" in Florida junior tennis.
Grey, 15, won this year's girls 16 state championships in singles, doubles and mixed doubles.
"I wasn't really aware of the fact that I had a chance to win three state titles," said Grey, a sophomore at Seminole High. "When I was in the mixed doubles final, my dad mentioned it to me."
Instead of worrying about titles and triple crowns, Grey focuses on her serve and volley game. Consequently, she won the singles title this summer over Elle Lewis of Miami; won doubles this month with Miami Beach's Tammy Encina, defeating Lewis and Annemarie Milton of Palm Beach Gardens, and won the mixed doubles last weekend with Rafael Demesa of Key Biscayne, beating Encina and Michael Delfierro of Davie.
"This year, Christa has made a big jump in maturity and has become much tougher on the court," said Maria Cercone, Grey's coach at Treasure Island Golf and Tennis Club. "She's gained confidence in her play and has really developed a good work ethic."
Grey's desire to play aggressively is augmented by her natural athleticism, said Cercone.
"I love to serve and volley," said Grey. "Doing that is a strong advantage for me. It's good for doubles, and in singles, coming in makes my opponent think twice about where to hit the ball."
Grey hasn't really thought about what her tennis future will be. As a member of the U.S. Tennis Association Training Assistance Program, she will participate next month in a weekend of intensive training at the USTA Training Center with national coaches, as well as compete in the U.S. Junior Davis Cup in Jacksonville.
"Christa could have a decent tennis future ahead of her," said Bobby Curtis, Florida's director of junior tennis. "She's not afraid to go to the net while many of the junior girls prefer to play a baseline game. It's refreshing to see her style of play."
Rice wins doubles: Larry Turville of St. Petersburg teamed with Neal Newman to win this month's USTA National 45 Clay Court Doubles Championship in Boca Raton. Turville advanced to the semifinals in singles.
Turville, tennis coach at Rice University for 16 years, has won four clay court national titles with Newman in the men's 40 division.
Seniors at nationals: The senior men's 3.5 team from River Crossing Country Club left Wednesday for Tucson, Ariz., and the USTA Senior Doubles Championships.
River Crossing advanced through local, regional and state competitions to become the Florida representative at the 15-team national event. Team members are captain Joe Gari, Don Bucci, Les Drew, Conrad Berhorster, Albert Jerome, Dick Roberts, Bob McKenzie and Jerry McDowell.
Senior league: The Pinellas Men's 60-and-over League began last week for eight teams. Clubs particpating include Seminole Lake, St. Pete Tennis Center, Shipwatch, Innisbroook, Bardmoor, East Lake, Royal Racquet and Countryside.
Captains meetings for the USTA District 12 Senior Doubles League are scheduled next month. Call Judy Murphy at 934-9604 for the women's information; Jim Adams at 321-7847 for the men's.
Nelson beats Courier: Kyle Nelson of St. Petersburg upset Chris Courier of Dade City, brother of pro player Jim, on his way to the boys 14 final in the Tampa Bay Upstart Championships at Hidden Palms last weekend. Nelson defeated the top-seeded Courier 6-4, 2-6, 6-3, beat Trent Cole of Clearwater 7-6, 7-5, and stopped Troy Scholl of Bradenton 6-0, 6-1 in the final.
Clearwater's Alexandra Liles won the girls 10 title. Nelson's sister Kelly won the girls 12 consolatioon.
PTA in session: Play Tennis America begins its second of three sessions Oct. 31 in St. Petersburg, Safety Harbor and at Bardmoor. This session will review basic skills, provide doubles instruction, and offer opportunities for adults to play. All participants receive a PTA T-shirt.
Pinellas currently has the only community-based PTA program in the state and includes more than 90 players. For more information, call 893-7301, 391-2205 or 724-7729.