Atlanta News – November 2009


Falconi Capyures ITA All-American Crown; Will Represent U.S. in France in December

Falconi topped UGA’s Gullickson at the ITA All-American.
Falconi topped UGA’s Gullickson at the ITA All-American. (Jose Weiss)

Top players from Georgia and Georgia Tech faced off in the final at the 25th anniversary of the Riviera/ITA Women’s All-American Championships.

Georgia Tech sophomore Irina Falconi derailed Chelsey Gullickson’s plan to be the first Bulldog to capture the singles championship since Lisa Spain in ‘83.  It was the first time a player from the Peach State won the title since the inaugural year of the tournament. Falconi, the tournament’s No. 8 seed, cruised to a 6-2, 6-1 victory over the second-ranked Gullickson, also a sophomore, to earn her first individual national title. Falconi dropped the first game of the match, then went on a run to win in convincing fashion.

“It feels unbelievable to win this title,” Falconi said. “Winning is a great feeling no matter whether it is a regular match or capturing a national title. I didn’t realize that I had won the title until the awards ceremony began.”

“It was a matter of me being on task and completely on the game plan,” Falconi added. “I have played Gullickson before but I played a totally different game from the last time and I think I caught her off guard. I could feel if I kept the momentum going I would be all right. She did not give me this match but I just took it point-by-point.”

Throughout the tournament, Falconi dominated and outscored her opponents 62-23 without dropping a set.

“She was able to win this in such convincing fashion, which speaks to the hard work she put in this summer and fall,” said Tech head coach Bryan Shelton. “Irina helps us to add to the National Championships we have amassed over the past few years both individually and as a team. To think that she is only a sophomore brings a huge smile to my face.”

Last year Falconi teamed with senior Amanda McDowell to capture the ITA All-American doubles title. Since ‘07, the Yellow Jackets have won two ITA National Team Indoor Championships, the ‘07 NCAA Championship, and Amanda McDowell won the ‘08 NCAA singles title.

Falconi is among a select group of six top collegians who have been selected to represent the U.S. at the fourth annual Master’U BNP Paribas, an international competition held Dec. 9-14 in Poitiers, France.

The event features eight teams composed of players from around the world.  The U.S. will be competing for the second consecutive year against a talented field that includes teams from Belgium, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland and Mexico. Falconi will be joined by Steve Johnson (USC), Austin Krajicek (Texas A&M), Kristy Frilling (Notre Dame), Eric Quigley (Kentucky), Caitlin Whoriskey (Tennessee).

Top-Four Finish for Lithonia 2.5 Men at Nationals

A men’s team from Lithonia finished fourth at the USTA League 2.5 Adult National Championships in Indian Wells, Calif.  The Lithonia team won regional and sectional events to represent the Southern Section at the National Championships.

They advanced through a round-robin format to play for third place, but finished fourth after losing 2-1 to an Oakland, Calif. team.  Earlier in the day, the team lost their semifinal match to a team from Arecibo, P.R.

Members of the team are Ryan Mobley (co-captain), Dontavious Drake, James Hunter, Leonardo Jennings, Ardie Anderson, Thomas Hill and Darryl Quinn (co-captain).

Nominations Being Accepted for QuickStart Programs

Nominations are now being accepted for growing QuickStart programs throughout the state.

The USTA Southern PR Committee is looking for an outstanding facility that runs the program using either painted permanent lines or built permanent QuickStart courts in ‘09.

The award will be presented to the facility that has been “proactive in its support and execution of QuickStart programming, by making QuickStart a permanent part of their community and impacting the growth of youth tennis.”

To nominate a facility in your community by the November deadline go to the USTA Southern Section website or contact Ron Cioffi at (678) 527-2112.

The winner will be announced at the USTA Southern Sectional meeting in Atlanta in January.

Kournikova, Haas Among WTT Smash Hits Stars

Anna will join Tommy Haas, Andy Roddick, Lindsay Davenport and Liezel Huber in Baton Rouge. (Getty Images)
Anna will join Tommy Haas, Andy Roddick, Lindsay Davenport and Liezel Huber in Baton Rouge. (Getty Images)

Anna Kournikova and Tommy Haas have been added to the lineup for the Advanta WTT Smash Hits, a charity event co-hosted by Sir Elton John and Billie Jean King on Dec. 8 at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.  Kournikova and Haas will join Andy Roddick, Lindsay Davenport and Liezel Huber.

Captained by King and John, the players will form two teams and play gov/pubmed/3656363and just for the record I agree with everything you said in the initial articleIt is really fucking disgusting about Hair drug test scams. the World TeamTennis format.  John will also participate in a celebrity doubles match to open the event.  Haas and Roddick are expected to face off in the evening’s men’s singles showdown.

Reserved tickets are available through the LSU Box Office or by calling (800) 960-8587.  Tickets can be also ordered online at  Special VIP ticket include exclusive VIP courtside seating and admission to the Smash Hits VIP Reception and Auction.  Auction items are expected to include a lesson with Roddick, John’s piano bench and King’s personal Wimbledon tickets.  For more info, contact Paige Sharber at (225) 928-8346.

Melanie’s Muse: Smith Captures First ITF Title

Georgia native Austin Smith has captured his casino first ITF title.  You may recognize Smith’s name as the boyfriend of teen sensation Melanie Oudin.  It was Smith who suggested that Oudin print “BELIEVE” on her adidas shoes during Oudin’s impressive ‘09 U.S. Open run.

Smith, who turns 16 in November, is currently ranked No. 8 in the South in  the boys’ 16s.

He received a wildcard into the ‘09 Atlanta ITF held at the RC of the South, his home courts.  Then Smith worked his way through the 64 draw before defeating Evan Song 7-6(6), 3-6, 6-2 in the final.  Smith trains at the RCS Academy with coach Brian de Villiers, who also coaches Oudin.

Team Georgia Wins 16th Straight Junior Cup

Georgia juniors dominated at the USTA Southern Junior Cup Championships in Chattanooga, Tenn.  Players from the Peach State captured the 14s, 16s and 18s in both girls’ and boys’ play for the 16th consecutive time.  The Junior Cup was created to showcase up-and-coming junior players in the Southern section. Each of the nine states in the section sends the top 18 players, three boys and three girls, in each age division. Will Wright coached team Georgia.

Girls’ 14s: Lindsey Hodge (Roswell), Allison Miller (Norcross), Laura Patterson (Roswell)
Girls’ 16s: Megan Kurey (Alpharetta), Kourtney Keegan (Roswell), Nicole Laduca (Woodstock)
Girls’ 18s: Whitney Kay (Alpharetta), Caroline Price (Duluth), Mary Jeremiah (Suwanee)
Boys’ 14s: Christian Garay (Columbus), Jess Jones (Alpharetta), Warner Robins (Alpharetta), Michael Kay (Alpharetta)
Boys’ 16s: Hunter Reese (Kennesaw), Casey Kay (Alpharetta), Garrett Gordon (Marietta)
Boys’ 18s: Vikram Hundal (Alpharetta), Breon Badger (Lawrenceville), Henry Jang Milsten (Alpharetta)

Bogart Women Runner-Up at 4.0 Nationals

A group of women from Bogart, Ga., finished second in the nation at the USTA League 4.0 Senior National Championships, held in Indian Wells, Calif.

The Georgia women, who represented the Southern Section, lost the championship match 2-1 to a team from Westlake, Calif.  Dianne Bahnsen captained the team, which included Jane McNeil, Pat Vorley, Dianne Bahnsen, Virginia Perry-Johnson, Ruth Steer, Hilda Vaughters, Ellen Johnson, Vonda Landrum, Cynthia Lester and plays at the Jennings Mill Country Club in Bogart, Ga.

Johnson Earns USPTA Master Pro Distinction

Skip Johnson of Douglasville, Ga., is among nine pros who have earned recognition as USPTA Master Pros, the highest professional rating within the tennis profession.

Johnson, managing partner of the West Cobb and Chapel Hill, Ga., locations of Gold’s Gym, is joined by Lorenzo Beltrame (Windermere, Fla.), Holly Chomyn (Naples, Fla.), Jim Davies (Nairobi, Kenya), Todd Ellenbecker (Scottsdale, Ariz.), Ajay Pant (Overland Park, Kan.), Hans Romer, (Yarmouth, Maine), Tommy Wade (Tuscaloosa, Ala.).  Only about 1 percent of USPTA’s more than 15,000 members worldwide have achieved the Master Pro designation. Johnson was recognized during the USPTA’s annual awards breakfast at the USPTA World Conference on Tennis in Marco Island, Fla.

“Becoming a Master Pro requires meeting a variety of personal and professional challenges,” said USPTA CEO Tim Heckler. “Those who accomplish it acquire a set of skills that can set them apart in tennis operations and programming.”

Johnson served as the president of the USPTA Georgia chapter in ‘95 and the chairman of the USPTA Southern Division Convention in ‘96.

He developed the Georgia Tennis Workshops program for state high school tennis coaches, which is endorsed by the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association and the Georgia Tennis Association. He has also served as the USTA presidential appointee for Georgia and the director of District III, Atlanta.

As a player, he competed on the men’s professional satellite circuits in India and Australia and was captain of the University of West Georgia SAC Conference championship team in ‘82.

Listen Up: DJ Shares Passion for Tennis

Radio personality Yvonne Monet is catapulting her love of music and tennis into a fun way to reach out to Atlanta’s tennis community.

In recent months, the Dave FM DJ has used her website,, to reach out to listeners and tennis fans alike about local tennis events. She’s also helped with events benefiting the likes of Camp Sunshine, an organization for children with cancer, and other non-profits. Now radio and tennis fans alike can go to the site to enter to win monthly prizes including concert tickets.  There’s also a like the RocknTennis Facebook page where fans can participate in various events with Monet like supplying questions to her to ask Pete Sampras.

For more information or to find out more about upcoming events with Monet’s organization go to or RocknTennis on Facebook.