Courtney Dwyer completed her first year of college with the same dedication, enthusiasm and effort that defined her high school career at Zephyrhills.
As a senior at Zephyrhills, Dwyer played No. 1 singles and doubles, going unbeaten except for losses to Wesley Chapel's Cristina Lucin in the regular season and in district competition.
Dwyer was awarded a scholarship to Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers where she shared the Eagles' No. 6 singles spot with Diana Murillo, Costa Rica's top player.
"Courtney improved a lot during the season, and worked very hard," Eagles coach Fred Drilling said. "Courtney is a real team player with a great attitude. She added a lot to the team and made the adjustment from high school to college."
Dwyer's first collegiate season included practicing with a full team of dedicated players, increased time on the courts, added match play in practice and the inclusion of a mental coach for the team.
"In high school, you might have two or three on the team that are college-bound, but in college, everyone was their school's No. 1, so everyone is totally dedicated," Dwyer said. "Plus, we spent almost three hours daily on the courts or working with weights and got in a lot more match play during practices.
"Having a mental coach available was wonderful, because he could help you pick out key phrases to think of during matches and that helped us focus better."
As a result, Dwyer believes she became a better player. Her volleys were more crisp, she said, and backhands were better driven.
The team, in only its second year, became one to reckon with after it defeated NAIA No. 4 Flagler College during the season. A runner-up finish to Flagler in an NAIA regional tournament gave the team a trip to the NAIA National Championships in Peachtree City, Ga.
"We finished ranked sixth in the country in the NAIA," Drilling said, "and, Courtney played a part in that. If Courtney continues to improve as fast as she did the first year, she will have an important part on the team again this coming year."
JUNIORS SELECTED: Austin Krajicek joins Pinellas players Morgan Basil, Alexandra Cercone, William Dixon and Chris Gupta in this week's USTA Zone Team Championships in Nashville, Tenn.
Representing Florida in the 12-and-under division, teams of 20 girls and 20 boys are competing among squads from USTA sections Southern, Midwest and Mid-Atlantic. The event includes girls and boys singles and doubles and mixed doubles.
Ryler DeHeart has been invited to compete on the U.S. Junior Davis Cup team July 28-31 in Columbia, S.C. Stacia Fonseca will play on the U.S. Junior Fed Cup team July 30 to Aug. 2 in San Rafael, Calif.
NET NOTES: Miranda Gutierrez and Evan Dufaux participated on Florida's intersectional team of 16-and-under players in Shreveport, La., earlier this month. The team finished fourth overall. Top seed Nicola Wellman won the girls 10 singles title in this month's Summer Junior Classic at Royal Racquet Club. Nathan Graddy was the runner-up in the boys 10, Joseph Valdes was the 10 consolation winner, Jaci Watson the girls 10 consolation winner and Sarah Bryant the girls 14 consolation winner. Second seed Jamie Mera won the girls 14 title in the July Spectacular Super Series at Seminole Lake Tennis Center last weekend. Erin Snook and older brother Tyler were finalists in the girls 10 and boys 12 as was Justin Herzig in the boys 14. Top seed Valdes won the boys 10 title in the Hot, Hot Juniors at East Lake Woodlands last weekend. Yui Shimiuz was a finalist in the girls 18 as was Cameron Babbitt in the girls 16.
COMING UP: The Bardmoor Rookie for junior singles players begins Friday at the Bardmoor Golf and Tennis Club. Call 391-2205 today. The Summer Classic Too for juniors singles competitors is also this weekend at the Phil Green Tennis Academy in Safety Harbor. Call the PGTA, 724-7729. Adults should call the Temple Terrace Recreation Department, (813) 989-7178, today to enter this weekend's Adult Classic. Competition includes age-division singles.