Atlanta News – June 2009

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Winds of Change: Midtow AC Ramps Up Jr. Program

Atlantans know full well that the Midtown Athletic Club at Windy Hill is a knock-your-socks-off facility, with incredible (tone-up and buff-up) fitness programs. Tennis insiders knows that M

idtown ACs across the country have produced many a top player, including American Laura Granville, who captured back-to-back NCAA singles titles in ‘00 and ‘01 and reached a career high of No. 28 on the WTA Tour in ‘03.

Now Windy Hill is beefing up its junior tennis program big-time. The private club is reaching out to the community through its year-round Midtown Junior Tennis Academy, which will available to both members and non-members beginning in August.

“It will be open to beginners, high school players, USTA and ITF players all the way to 18-yar-old kids who are almost playing on the tour,” said Windy Hill’s Director of Tennis Alejandro Garcia, a former top-five player from Venezuela.

Helping Garcia oversee the academy will be the Czech Republic’s Vitek Wild, the winningest player in Bowling Green State University history (184 career wins), and Javier Blanco, who brings 14 years of experience as a teaching pro at the Extreme and Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academies, having helped develop the likes of Maria Sharapova and Alexandra Stevenson.

With nine state-of-the-art courts, Windy Hill also features league play, social mixers, club/inter-club tournaments and USTA junior tournaments. Plus, Windy Hill’s Ultimate Junior Tennis Camp (June-August) provides an environment that helps young players achieve their tennis goals while having fun both on and off the court. Players are grouped by age and ability with an emphasis on stroke production, intense group sessions, match play strategies, video analysis and fitness training. Coaches travel with students to area tournaments. For more info, call (770) 953-1100 ext. 632 or visit midtown.com/windyhill.

Grace Under Pressure (The Overseas Edition)

Georgia’s Grace Min is spending some time overseas as part of a USTA special training session for a small group of elite national players.

Min, of Dulth, Ga., Chanelle Van Nguyen and Breaunna Addison will be working on their skills on red clay. Part of the time will be with USTA National Coach Lori McNeil in Barcelona. During their stay the group will also train with the coaches and fitness trainers at the Barcelona Tennis Academy.

Min, 14, has also been blogging about her experience for the USTA while in Spain. In her entries she talks about her experiences in Spain, new favorite sites and she details what it takes to improve her tennis play on clay. While overseas, the girls also have the opportunity to compete in ITF clay-court events and watch some of the world’s top players in action, among them Rafael Nadal.

“After practice, we had a nice surprise waiting for us,” Min posted in her blog on USTA.com. “Thanks to Jay Berger and Bob and Mike Bryan, we were spoiled with tickets to the Barcelona Open!! After lunch, we took the train into the city and made it in time for Rafa’s match. There are not enough words in the English language to describe how good he is. Seriously. I’ll just leave it at that so I don’t do him any injustice.”

Historic Season for Georgia State Women

It’s been a historic season for the Georgia State women’s tennis team. For the first time in the school’s history the team has earned an automatic bid into the NCAA Championships after winning the team’s first ever CAA title. The Panthers finished the regular season 11-4 winning their last seven matches with a ranking of 46th in the country.

“Success like this never happens within a month or a week,” said Head coach Miha Lisac, the CAA Coach of the Year. “Its something that the players and coaching staff dedicated themselves to over a period of time and we’ve really been working toward a success like this over the past two years.”

It’s hard not to notice the results now starting to pay off and Lisac noted the team is enjoying a great mix of both experienced players and tremendous freshmen. Diana Nakic, the CAA Player and Rookie of the Year, has been credited for her contributions to the team throughout the season. Now the freshman from Slovenia has also been selected for another historic first for the Georgia State program, the NCAA Singles Championship.

“Tennis is a lot about confidence and the term peaking at the right time I would casino more apply to the confidence in tennis,” said Lisac during a radio interview leading up to the NCAA Championships. “I feel like a lot of the players now are playing with more confidence than at the beginning of the season and that’s really what we’re playing for.”

Regardless of the outcome of the NCAA Championships, the Panthers have made history and they are looking to continue the building trend.

“Its really a great time to be a part of this team and everything that the team and the players on the team have accomplished,” Lisac said.

Public Court Woes Continue

The all too familiar sounds of tennis balls online casino deutschland being hit and shoes moving across the courts may be in jeopardy at public facilities around the city of Atlanta.

With the recent budget crisis forcing fire stations to be closed and police officer furloughs, cuts to the parks and recreation department are just part of the tax payer amenities being chopped. Now there is a move to consider leasing out all the city of Atlanta tennis facilities to contractors to run. Public tennis facilities have already taken a cut from the city of Atlanta, being forced to reduce hours and close at least one day a week. Now the new plan to have contractors lease out the facilities has many in the tennis community nervous.

“The tennis community is definitely concerned about our public tennis facilities. The USTA has spent time and resources on supporting public parks and their tennis programs,” said Matt Olson, Executive Director of USTA Atlanta. “The last thing we want to see are facilities closing and the public losing access to play on the courts they love. “

The current plan has the city of Atlanta looking to have one contract to manage all five facilities: Bitsy Grant, McGhee Park, Washington Park, Chastain Park and the Sharon E. Lester Tennis Center. But frustrated city employees think it’s just a way to get out of paying for parks and recreation staffers and that city residents will be the ones ultimately paying the price.

“We’re not only concerned about the affect this will have on recreational league programs,” Olson said. “But also youth programs and after school programs in the inner city. “

Tennis patrons and some facility employees are encouraging residents to contact their local representatives to voice their concerns. No comment from the city was available in time for this publication deadline.

Georgia Tech, UGA Look Ahead to NCAAs

The Georgia Tech women are vying to reclaim their national title, but they will be faced with stiff competition. Ranked No. 8, the team struggled in the ACC Championships with a surprising loss to No. 17 Florida State. It was the first time since ‘04 that the team failed to make it to the ACC semis, but don’t count them out just yet.

Recent strong performances from key players could still put the team in a good spot for a strong run in the NCAA Championship Tournament. Out of the roster the Yellow Jackets have four players in the NCAA Individual Championships; freshman Irina Falconi and ‘08 NCAA Singles Champion Amanda McDowell both earned spots in the singles and doubles fields. After an impressive rookie season Falconi was awarded a top-16 seed in the singles draw and will team up with McDowell in the doubles draw. Senior Christy Striplin earned her first career appearance in the singles field and sophomore Noelle Hickey was named the No. 1 alternate for the singles tournament.

On the men’s side, standout Guillermo Gomez has earned a top-16 seed for the NCAA Singles Championships while garnering his first ever All-America honors. The Alicante, Spain native has a 28-9 record for the year and is currently ranked11th in the country. The sophomore is Georgia Tech’s first men’s singles All-American since Kenny Thorne and Bryan Shelton, currently Georgia Tech’s men’s and women’s coaches, respectively, achieved the honor in ‘88.

In the meantime, the Georgia Bulldogs are looking for successful finishes to their own seasons. The fourth-ranked men’s team owns a 60-match home winning streak that dates back to April 23, 2005 and enters the tournament with a 22-3 record. Now the two-time defending NCAA champs look to keep their winning streak alive as they focus on capturing their third consecutive title. The Bulldogs have six national championships in all. Junior Nate Schnugg has also earned a spot in the NCAA Singles Championships and a spot in the doubles draw with teammate Jamie Hunt.

On the women’s side the Bulldogs go into the NCAA Championship ranked second. Leading the pack will be Chelsey Gullickson, Nadja Gilchrist and Yvette Hyndman, all of whom earned bids into the NCAA Singles Championship. Gullickson is ranked ninth in the nation and was name the SEC Freshman of the Year.

Welcome News: Cooper Creek, Reynolds Plantation in ITA's Top 50

The Cooper Creek Tennis Center (Columbus, Ga.) and the Reynolds Plantation Lake Club Tennis Center (Greensboro, Ga.) have been recognized by the TIA, USTA and Racquet Sports Industry magazine among the top 50 Tennis Welcome Centers in the U.S. Both facilities have been instrumental in leading the charge in the sport’s growth by providing programs to new and current players of all ages and abilities.

“All of the more than 2,500 Tennis Welcome Centers have played a key role in the increased tennis participation we’ve seen in the last few years in the U.S.,” says TIA Executive Director Jolyn de Boer. “These Top 50 Tennis Welcome Centers have been doing an exemplary job of creating a positive tennis experience for people in their communities. Tennis Welcome Centers serve a vital role in delivering tennis. The TIA, together with the USTA, is very pleased to recognize these efforts with this award.”

The TWC initiative was a key factor in reaching nearly 27 million recreational players in ‘08 – the highest participation level in 15 years. According to a study by the SGMA, from ‘00 to ‘08, participation has grown 43 percent, by far the fastest growing traditional participation sport, well ahead of its nearest rival (racquetball, at 11.6 percent) and far surpassing sports such as golf, soccer, basketball, swimming and baseball, most of which saw declining participation over the same eight years. Also, industry research shows that both racket and ball sales have increased for the last five years.

New Location for Your Serve

Your Serve Tennis is enjoying success at their new Alpharetta/North Point location. The new larger location is at the corner of Old Milton Parkway in the Alpharetta Crossing shopping center.

The tennis retailer offers a full range of rackets, shoes, apparel and accessories as well as stringing and racket maintenance services at their seven Metro Atlanta locations. Right now, they’re also trying to help customers with tight budgets get more for their dollar with the store’s bundle savings. It lets customers save 40-55 percent on specially marked items at any of the seven Your Serve Tennis locations.

Since ‘76, Your Serve Tennis has received several accolades including being named the ‘Pro/Specialty Retailer of the Year’ in the inaugural Tennis Industry Magazine rewards issue. To find a location near you log on to yourserve.com.

Blaze Camp Registration Underway

Registration is now underway for a special summer program for youths aged 8-18 with physical disabilities.

BlazeCamp takes place at the Roosevelt Warm Springs “Camp Dream” Facility in Warm Springs, Ga. with three residential camp options. Blaze Sports, a non-profit organization that advances the lives of youth and adults with physical disability through sport and healthy lifestyles, is putting on the camps.

The camps, which run two weeks in June and one week in July, are under the direct supervision of Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists and qualified camp staff. In addition, all camps have a 1:5 staff-to-camper ratio and focus on fun, friendships and sports. One of the highlights for many campers is the wheelchair tennis clinic. In the past international tennis player Karin Korb and other nationally ranked players have helped instruct campers.

For more registration info, visit blazesports.com.

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