• GACTA Middle School Tennis League Completes its Seventh Season

    This spring, the Gainesville Area Community Tennis Association (GACTA) sponsored the seventh season of its no-cut GACTA Middle School Tennis league, which provided 160 local middle school students, from beginner to advanced players, an opportunity to play tennis in a team format for their school. As in previous years, the season ran during the months of April and May following the high school tennis season. Volunteer parent-captains recruited middle school students from eight middle schools under the guidance of Anne Koterba, President of GACTA and coordinator of the middle school tennis program. This year, as in 2016, a group of players from Sidney Lanier Center, a school for students with developmental disabilities, joined the Westwood Middle School team. The other local schools included Lincoln, Jordan Glen, Oak Hall School, Kanapaha, Howard Bishop, and Oakview, and newcomers the Smashers, a home school team coached by Sandra Phillips.

    This year, the Middle School League Team Championship, mirroring the FHSAA State Tennis Championship’s changed to a team vs. team format (but with an emphasis on doubles), was held at the Jonesville Tennis Center. This year, Jordan Glen took home the 2017 Middle School Championship, and Oak Hall ended up the Tournament Finalist. The number #1 doubles team of Graham Louis and Austin Jones (Jordan Glen) was also recognized.

    GACTA’s no-cut middle school tennis program is sustainable because the hard costs are covered by a modest participation fee ($55), and because our local private and public tennis facilities generously provide teaching pros for practices and courts for both practices and matches. In addition, the parent-coordinators provide a great deal of volunteer help. The participation fee also generates enough revenue to provide scholarships for students from low-income families, as well as support GACTA’s Aces in Motion tennis outreach program for at-risk youth. Again this year, Elizabeth Patterson, the parent-coordinator for Westwood Middle School and Special Olympics tennis coach, provided a unified playing experience for several Sidney Lanier players. They attended practices and competed in matches as a part of Westwood’s team.

    “Teamwork and sportsmanship is what this program is really about,” Koterba said. “We just want kids of all backgrounds and all abilities to be able to go out and play and learn how enjoyable the game can be. We like to emphasize that tennis can be a great team sport, whether playing for your school’s team or playing as a doubles team.”

    This year, the Jonesville Tennis Center (JTC), Westside Tennis, and the Haile Plantation Golf and Country Club provided courts for match play for the middle school league, and all of these facilities, as well as the 300 Club, “adopted” teams for practices. The Jordan Glen team was coached by Dave Porter (JTC) and the parent-coordinator was Nicole Christie. The Oak Hall team was coached by Chris McDonald (JETA) and the parent-coordinator was veteran Tammy Miller.

    For additional photos of the 2017 Middle School Tennis season or for more information on GACTA’s programs, please see www.gainesvilletennis.org or go to Gainesville Tennis or Aces in Motion on Facebook.

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