After successful junior and high school tennis careers, JeswinJolly took a five-year hiatus from the sport.
When he returned last year, Jolly posted a No. 4 Florida ranking in the men's open singles division.
"I love the game and am a better person when I'm playing tennis," said Jolly, 23. "Tennis gives me a sense of discipline and the effect is reflected in other parts of my life."
In high school, Jolly was a two-time district champion at No. 1 for Clearwater High. In state competition, he achieved a top-five Florida ranking in the 16-and-under division.
Despite undergoing shoulder surgery before his senior year, Jolly defended the No. 1 position his final season with the Tornadoes.
After high school, Jolly enrolled at the University of Florida to study pharmacy. He later transferred to South Florida. Last year, Jolly took time off from school and focused on the game he missed.
"It was actually Erick Chall, Drago Dragicevic and his son Goranwho got me going again," Jolly said. "Plus, my parents have been so supportive of my playing. Without their support, I would never have been able to get going again."
Jolly is back in school this semester and is balancing tennis with studies. He recently took the Pharmacy College Admission Test and plans to apply to pharmacy school after he earns a degree in chemistry.
"All last year, I traveled and competed," Jolly said. "The first thing I lost being away from tennis was match toughness.
"Through the year, I felt I played pretty well and learned a lot. You can learn from losing just as you can learn from winning."
Jolly believes the effort he gave last year is preparation for this year. He plans to keep a state ranking in the top five and will work toward a world ranking.
"I used to serve and volley and I need to get back to doing that," said Jolly. "My serve is a work in progress and I need to work on attacking more. I'm not quite where I want to be, but I'm convinced I'll get there.
"The best part of my game was at the net and I need to look for opportunities to come in. I like to use my forehand, especially my inside-out forehand, to set up the point."
Jolly believes he has become more efficient with his time to allow opportunities for class duties and tennis practice. Jolly has his sights on being able to compete in doubles on the circuit.
"Tennis is a great game that you can play your whole life," Jolly said. "I don't know why more people don't just go out and try it."
ACS RESULTS: More than 170 players participated in the 23rd annual American Cancer Society Tennis Classic staged at Clearwater's McMullen Tennis Complex.
Winners in the women's doubles competition included KimCashman and Gail Gibson (4.5), Kim Damico and Mary Snowden-Gordon(4.0), Jill Faw and Charlotte Tao(3.5) and Mary Dworkin and Joanna Pruitt (3.0).
Posting wins among the men were Michael Erbe and Marvin Wilhite (4.5), Dave King and Scott Monette (4.0) and Ed Earls and Josh Moore (3.5).
Mixed winners were Mary JaneEvertz and Kevin Manning (5.0), Janet Poort and Ken Cherven (4.5), Kim Cherry and Todd Whitington (4.0), Therese Gard ner and Ed Ostiguy(3.5) and Debbie and Jerry Walker(3.0).
Please see For the Record for complete results.
LEAGUE NEWS: Super senior competition this week included Westin Innisbrook Resort raising its record to 2-0 in the 3.5 women's division with a 3-0 victory over Seminole Lake.
Winning in straight sets were Anne Hammond and Marie Hanff in No. 2 and Shirl Ahrens and Joan Holland in No. 3. Josie Doucette and Sue Luidens recorded a three-set win in No. 1.
In senior 4.0 women's action, McMullen handed the St. Petersburg Tennis Center its first loss with a 2-1 score.
Marion Murch and Hank Skoczenin No. 2 and Ria Graham and Nancy Morgan in No. 3 collected McMullen's two points.
JUNIOR RANKINGS: Florida's top-ranked junior players of 2005 include area competitors No. 11 Morgan Frank and No. 16 Christina Liles in the girl 18-and-under; No. 3 Lindsay Dvorak and No. 6 Alexandra Cercone the 16; No. 4 Cercone the 14; No. 3 Danielle Collins, No. 8 Julia Jones and No. 20 Julianne Gruberthe 12; No. 19 Angel Deng the 10; No. 5 George Navas the boys 18; tied at No. 12 Anthony Barrancottothe 12; No. 4 Alexander Saltiel the 10.
NET SHOTS: Alex Deeb upset the No. 1 seed to win the 55 singles title in the Super Senior Classic Designated Tournament in Naples.
Deeb paired with John Pittmanof Alabama and reached the 55 doubles final.
Natalie Boruk was a finalist in the girls 14 and Joanna Boruk won the girls 14 consolation in last month's Buckhorn Springs Junior Championships.
Among the singles winners in this month's Adult Winter NTRP Tournament at East Lake Woodlands were Rachel Mayhew in the women's 3.0 and Karen Killen the 4.0.
Finalists included Kirstin Willisin the women's 3.0, Kenneth Emerythe men's 4.0 and Matthew Pfeiffer the 3.0.
Collecting consolation wins were Wayne Adams in 4.5 and Jerry Walker 3.0.
Doubles winners included Lauren Coogan and Tracey Sullivan(women's 3.5), Stacey Foster and Kirsten Willis (3.0), Siwei Jin and Sriram Swaminathan (men's 4.0) and Craig and Kenneth Emery (3.5).
COMING UP: The Sheriff Jim Coats Clearwater Women's Open, a $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit event for female professionals, is Feb. 20-March 5 at the McMullen Tennis Complex.
In addition to the competitive play, community activities are planned, including Family Tennis Day from 1 to 4 p.m. Feb. 25 with an opportunity to win tickets to the Bausch and Lomb Tournament and USTA Member Appreciation Day from 5 to 7 p.m. Feb. 28 with a chance to win a pair of tickets to Nasdaq-100 Open. A Pro-Am Mixed Doubles begins at 6 p.m. Feb. 28.
The event benefits the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Suncoast. For sponsor information, call 546-1032, ext. 17; for tennis questions, call 669-1919.
News for this column may be faxed to Nancy Morgan, 796-5559; e-mailed to namorgan46msn.com, or sent to 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756. Please include phone number.