Sunday, July 15, 2012

Florida Open Scores Again

Despite weather that would drive any tournament director batty, Paul D’Amico, Director of Tennis at the Landings Yacht, Golf, and Tennis Club and his staff brought the USTA Jr. Regional Florida Open to a successful conclusion. Tournament draws included Boys’ and Girls’ 18s and 16s, and the Greater Fort Myers-Naples area had a number of participants among the more than 250 in the event. The Naples contingent produced the only standout performance, which was in the Girls’ 18s.   

Girls 18s
Nikki Kallenberg of Naples
Unseeded Nikki Kallenberg of Naples showed why she was named 2012 Girls Tennis Player of the Year by the Naples News. I’m not sure why Kallenberg wasn’t seeded and Vivienne David of Naples was (seeded 9th), since Kallenberg is ranked higher by the USTA, but such was the case.

Perhaps that is why Kallenberg played like she had something to prove. She didn’t lose a game in her first match, made No.2 Seed Kate Vialle of Leawood, KS quit after the first set (7-5), served up a second-set bagel to her third opponent, and knocked off No.9 Seed Sonja Radosevic of Miami in a straight-set quarterfinal match.

No. 7 Seed and Eventual Champion Maria Shishkina of Bradenton was a bit much for Kallenberg to overcome in the Semis, but Kallenberg defeated yet another seed, Bennett Dunn (9) of Plantation in a hard-fought three-setter to claim third place. Kallenberg can add Florida Open “Outstanding Local Performer” honors to her list of accolades for 2012.

Vivienne David made it through her first round match, but fell in a tough three-setter to Athena Trouillot of Miami in her second match. Jemileth Aguilar of Naples wasn’t seeded, but won her first match against the No.6 Seed Yasmin Franklin of Largo in three sets, before losing to Gabrielle Wreder in straight sets in her next match.
Girls' 18s Champion
Maria Shishkina of Bradenton

Media darling and 13-year-old (14 next week) phenom, No.7 Seed Maria Shiskina of Bradenton won the Girls’ 18s in a three-setter against 14-year-old (15 in two days) No.1 Seed Katerina Stewart of Miami. Before the Final, Stewart hadn’t lost more than four games in a match and Shishkina hadn’t lost more than five. The Final went 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 in Shishkina’s favor.

Boys' 18s
Henrik Wiersholm
Oliver Landert had the best showing of any of the locals in the Boys 18s. Despite being unseeded, Landert reached the Quarters, before being ousted by No.3 Seed Henrik Wiersholm of Kirkland, WA. En route to the Quarters, Landert defeated No.6 Seed Justin Butsch of Miami Beach in straight sets.

Adam Hamilton
Both of our Fort Myers entries in the Boys 18s fell in the first round. Parker Cuevas-Woodall exited in three tough sets against Jorge Vargas of Naples, and Adam Hamilton of MAD Academy lost to Parker Hayslett of Clearwater in straight sets. Somehow, with 32 players moving into consolation after the first round, Adam had to player the only other Parker in the draw in his second match. That’s right, our Parker. 

Boys' 18 Champion
Chase Perez-Blanco
When it was all over, Adam was 1-1 against the Parkers in the event. After the killer three-setter that Parker C-W had played in his first round, he just didn’t have the gas to go the distance, and Adam posted a 6-3, 4-1 victory. Adam fell to the No.8 Seed in the following round.

Unseeded Chase Perez-Blanco of Miami claimed the Boys’ 18s, dropping just one set in the event, and beating the third and first seeds in the Semis and Finals respectively. The one lost set was against No.3 Seed Wiersholm in the Semis. He defeated No.1 Seed Trey Strobel 6-2, 7-5 in the Final.

Boys’ 16s
Unseeded Alan Sweet of Naples logged the best performance of the locals in the Boys’ 16s. Sweet posted three wins, including one over No.6 Seed Zach Fryer of Centennial, CO, in reaching the Quarters. Sweet fell to Robby Morin of Boca Raton, who eventually took finalist honors.

William Shisler of Naples was the only other local to win a match in the Boys’ 16s. Shisler won his first match and gave No.1 Seed Greg Anderson of Tucson, AZ a scare in Round 2 when he took the first set 6-1. Anderson recovered shortly thereafter and won sets two and three handily.

Boys' 16s Champion Alex Knight
Third-seeded Alex Knight of Miami Shores took the Boys’16s, dropping only one set and deposing top seed Anderson and Finalist Morin in straight sets in the Semis and Finals respectively.

Girls’ 16s
Girls' 16s Finalist
Victoria Flores
Ninth-seeded Thandiwe Kangwa of Fort Myers was the only local to win a match in the Girls’ 16s, and what a match it was. Kangwa battled but lost the first set 5-7 to Kylee Shipley of West Palm Beach, but hung tough in the sweltering heat and claimed the final two sets 6-4, 6-3. That match took its toll, however, and Kangwa wasn’t able to finish her next match against, unseeded eighth-grader and eventual Finalist, Victoria Flores of Fort Dodge, IA.

No.8 Seed Rachel Rohrabacher of Tampa won the Girls’16s in straight sets over Flores. Rohrabacher survived a quarterfinal scare against Brianna Lashway of Bradenton in the Round of 16 in which she lost a first-set tiebreak, but won the final two sets and didn’t drop another en route to taking the Championship.

As usual, it was great to see members of the various participating clubs volunteering to make this event the success that is and has been over the years. I’m sure the players also appreciated the local tennis fans who came out to the various venues to watch the matches. I look forward to the 2013 edition of the Florida Open. Hope you’ll join us for that as well.

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