• Wheelchair Tennis Makes Its Mark at Super Senior Nationals

    April 21, 2102

    By J. Fred Sidhu, special to USTA.com

    Surprise, AZ


    The evolution of wheelchair tennis continues.
    John Johnston, a 63-year-old tennis wheelchair player, made his second career appearance in a USTA League National  Championship this weekend.
    The resident of Gainesville, Fla. represented the USTA Florida Section Super Senior men’s 6.0 team and helped his team advance to the semifinals at the Surprise Tennis & Racquet Complex.
    Johnston, a Vietnam War veteran, began playing wheelchair tennis in the mid-1970s and went on to become a world-class wheelchair tennis player, traveling around the world and achieving a career-high singles ranking of 24 in the world.
    In 1990 Johnston captured a doubles title at the Japan Open with Brad Parks, a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, who is considered one of the pioneers of wheelchair tennis.
    Johnston became the first wheelchair player to play USTA League tennis approximately 20 years ago and played in his first USTA League National Championship at the Senior level in 2004.
    “I was the very first one to play able-bodied USTA League Tennis. I started telling other guys in chairs about it, trying to get them involved,” Johnston said. “There are not many of us. I would say probably 10 to 15 at most.”
    When Johnston plays with able-bodied players, he wants to show that he deserves to be on the same court.
    He told the story of his first match against an able-bodied player years ago who said he wouldn’t hit the ball hard at him. On the first point of the match, Johnston set the tone as he slammed a shot at his opponent who had approached the net.
    Johnston has seen wheelchair tennis evolve since he began playing and is impressed with the high level of the sport today. “The Open (wheelchair) players now are playing unbelievable,” Johnston said. “The level has risen immensely and the quality of play is incredible. It’s a specialized sport.”
    Johnston sees a bright future for wheelchair tennis. “It’s only going to get better and better. The kids are younger and stronger,” he said. “They’re training for it. They’re going through the regular routines that the pros do now. They work out three times a day and do cross-training with weights. They’re top athletes.”
    When it comes to promoting USTA League tennis, Johnston has a message for his fellow wheelchair players – “You’ve got to get out there and play. It’s a game of a lifetime. You can play with your friends and family,” he said. “I want them to take advantage of it because it’s going to help their game all over. I would hope that a lot more would do it.”

  • Gainesville Team Wins at USTA Florida Combo Adult Championships

    Adapted from USTA Florida January 18, 2012 02:47 PM


    The Gainesville team, playing out of the Jonesville Tennis Center and representing Alachua County, swept Escambia County 3-0 in the Combo Men’s 7.5 division final to claim the championship.

    Captained by Gabriel Ghita, the Gainesville squad was comprised of Daniel Berdat, Latchezar Hristov, Eric Kidd, Newton Turenne, Ziad Ghanimi, William Pelletier, Sorin Fratila, David Craig Perkins, David Hou, Erik Bayard, Leonardo Ferreira, Greg Williamson, Kevin Banes, Peter Adhihetty and John Kairalla.

    Combo Adult teams are comprised of players 18 years or older in a combined-rating format from 5.5 to 9.5. The combined NTRP (National Tennis Rating Program) ratings of each doubles team may neither exceed the level nor be more than 1.0 less than the level in which they are competing. The NTRP rating difference between the members of an individual doubles pair may not exceed 0.5.

    7.5 Combo Champions – JTC Ghita

  • Mehan Family of Gainesville Readies 3 for USTA League and JTT National Chps.

    From http://www.florida.usta.com/mehan_family_of_gainesville_readies_3_for_usta_league_and_jtt_national_chps111/

    September 15, 2011

    After playing USTA League tennis for more than 25 years and never advancing to nationals, Gainesville’s Bobbie Mehan suddenly has a family full of national championship contenders in 2011. In the same year Mehan, her sister and her daughter are all advancing to USTA League National Championships in Arizona.

    Mehan, the QuickStart 10 and Under Tennis director and assistant pro at the Jonesville Tennis Center in Gainesville, Fla., began playing USTA League tennis out of college in Kansas City. Then it was league tennis in Chicago, Atlanta, and for the last 10 years in Florida.

    “Altogether I’ve played forever and never gotten to a nationals,” she says, laughing. “That doesn’t seem possible does it, after playing that many years.”

    Her women’s 45-and-over team, including sister Bonnie O’Brien, were unlikely USTA Florida Section champions until enduring a series of tiebreak wins during a rainy weekend at the USTA Florida Adult League Championships in July at the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach.

    “We were not favored by any means. We were just excited to [advance to] play on Sunday, much less play in the finals,” Mehan said. “It came down to a third-set tiebreaker on the last court for us to win on a Sunday at about 11 o’clock at night [after rain delays]. All the tiebreakers went our way, it was really perfect, it was really close. I think we were taking our [championship team] pictures at 11:15 p.m. that Sunday because of the rain, it was just crazy. There’s not too much of a fanbase around at 11:15 on a Sunday night, but that didn’t matter.”

    The sisters Bobbie and Bonnie have played tennis together since high school when their team won the state championship. Bonnie will be the lone player on the team with previous USTA League National Championship experience.

    “She did go to nationals one time out of [USTA] Missouri Valley, she got to go to Key Biscayne,” Mehan said. “There’s actually people on the team that have played longer than me — there is one lady on the team who says she has played league tennis for over 40 years and never had gone to nationals.”

    One tradition for USTA teams advancing to league nationals is to present the other teams with a gift, and the Gainesville resident is attempting to keep her Florida Gators football passion in check.

    “We’re going to come up with something great to represent Florida — I think we should give something ‘Gators,’ something Gator-ish, but we are representing Florida and not just Gainesville,” Mehan said, laughing.

    The team roster also includes Ekanong Van Roy, Larissa Williamson, Mary Cribb, Elizabeth Amdur, Jean Vaughn, Kar Yee Fransham, Preetika Pai, Barbara Rozboril, Kathy Bevis, Margot Markowitz, Deborah Hubbart, Zhoe Solaun, Sierra Solaun, Debbie Bowers and Sandra Phillips.

    Also advancing to USTA Jr. Team Tennis Nationals in the 14-Advanced division is Mehan’s daughter Lillie.

    “I had the additional pressure, because my daughter had already won her sectional weeks before, and I knew she was going to nationals so I had the pressure,” Mehan said. “I thought, ‘Okay! If she gets to go to nationals, maybe this is my year.’ It’s just weird that they’re both in Arizona a week apart.”

    For the 14-year-old Lillie it’s also a first-time trip to nationals after much of her team recently moved up from the 12-Advanced division.

    “This will be the first time going to nationals for everyone on the team,” said Lillie, who adds the team has already planned their wardrobe changes.

    “We’re all planning on wearing the same uniform for every day — like, on the plane we’ll all wear Jonesville or DB [Racquet Club] tennis shirts, and for like the first day we’re wearing black and yellow, and the next day we’re wearing black-out, like black shirts and shorts or whatever, and the next day yellow and navy,” Lillie said. “It’s really exciting, because it’s our first time ever and it’s really fun.”

    Now all that’s left for the family is figuring out flights and stay-overs in Arizona to support one another. The 2011 USTA League 4.5 Adult National Championships will be held Oct. 28-30, 2011 at the Reffkin Tennis Center in Tucson, Ariz., while the 2011 USTA Jr. Team Tennis 14-U National Championships will be held Oct. 20-23 at The Surprise Tennis and Racquet Complex in Surprise, Ariz.

  • 2010 USTA Florida Annual Meeting Photos

  • Gainesville 3.5 Senior Women Second at USTA League Nationals

    Exerpted from:


    The women’s 3.5 USTA League senior squad from Gainesville finished second at the 2010 USTA League 3.5 Senior National Champions, held Oct. 8-10, 2010 in Indian Wells, Calif.

    Representing USTA Florida as the section’s league champion, Gainesville defeated the USTA Midwest Section (the team from Naperville, Ill.) 3-0, but were edged 2-1 in the final by the USTA Northern California Section, represented by the squad from Lake Tahoe, Nev.

    Playing out of the D.B. Racquet Club in Gainesville, the team was comprised of captain Rebecca Bates, Lisette Staal, Dina Treloar, Ivette Ramos, Janet Ellard, Terry Lynn West, Patricia Chonin, Jacqueline Ferber, Shirley Clark, Lisa Clary, Jane Ryals, Kim Greer, Cindy Austgen, and Joyce Carter.

  • Results from the Adult USTA Season (Spring 2010

    The 2010 USTA Florida Adult League North Central Region Championships were held on July 9-11, 2010 at Daytona Beach, Florida Tennis Center. Congratulations to all the teams that participated, as Gainesville was very well represented. Both the 4.5 Men and Women Gainesville teams, captained respectively by Roy Cribb and Debby Bowers, won their divisions, and went on to the Sectional event August 13th-15th, 2010. Finalist teams included Kathy Outman’s 3.5 Women’s team, Lynn Godwin’s 4.0 Women’s team, and Gabriel Ghita’s 3.5 Men’s team. Congratulations to all!

  • Adult USTA League Information

    Here in Alachua County, Florida, our USTA Leagues operate all twelve months as follows:  Senior (age 50+) and Super Senior (age 60+) in January/February,  Adult League (age 18+) March-May, Adult Mixed Doubles and Senior Mixed Doubles (age 50+) June-August, Adult and Senior Combo September-December.  In order to play USTA League Tennis, you must be a USTA member ($42 single; $68 family).  The fee for each league is $18.

    Most USTA matches are scheduled on Friday evenings, Saturdays, and Sundays.  None of the facilities (except the new Jonesville public facility) will allow us to schedule evenings during the week as that is considered prime time for members and lessons.

    For information regarding USTA League Play, contact the following Local League Coordinators:

    Adult League:  Ben and Libby Smith 352-871-5886; benandlibby@nullcox.net

    Senior and Senior Mixed: Ed Austin 352-514-6733; eaustin@nullwindstream.net

    Super Seniors: Christine Shurtleff  352-336-7508; cs4tennis@nullaol.com

    Adult Mixed: Ed Austin: 352-514-6733: eaustin@nullwindstream.net

    Combo Adult and Combo Senior: Jeanette Parker 386-462-5112; joggparker@nullaol.com

    Facilities are as follows:

    DB Racquet Club: 352-377-9580; 8 clay and 2 hard courts; www.dbtennis.com.

    300 Club: 352-378-2989; 7 clay and 2 hard courts. http://www.300clubswimandtennis.org/

    Gainesville Golf & Country Club: 352-373-4806; 4 clay and 2 hard courts. www.gainesvillegolf.cc

    Haile Plantation: 331-5708; 5 clay courts (one location) and 4 hard courts (at golf club and pool). http://www.clubcorp.com/Clubs/Haile-Plantation-Golf-Country-Club

    Westside Recreation Center (public courts): 352-376-8250; 8 hard courts; www.gainesvilletennisacademy.com.

    Jonesville Tennis Center (public courts): 14 clay courts/one beach tennis court .  Telephone 331-9558 and  www.jonesvilletennis.com.

    All of the above facilities are in the NW area of Gainesville, except Gainesville Golf & Country Club and Haile Plantation, which are located in SW Gainesville, and Jonesville Tennis Center which is west of I-75, halfway between Gainesville and Newberry.

    There are three other city public court facilities, each with 4 hard courts, no court monitors.

    If you do not know your rating, and you do not plan to join one of the local clubs, I would suggest you contact Mike Oransky or Robert Taylor at Westside Park.  Both of them are normally there late afternoon and early evening.  They will be able to help you determine your level of play so that we can connect you with a team at your level.

    There are also numerous tennis teaching pros at the new Jonesville facility who could help you determine your level of play.  The center is open every day from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., 7 days a week.

    To determine your level of play, it would be useful to sign up for a clinic at Westside Park or Jonesville Tennis Center, and mention to the pro in charge that you are trying to determine your playing level.

  • Upcoming Senior USTA Leagues

    The 2011 Senior and Super Senior Leagues begins in early January and runs through the first weekend in March on alternating weekend days. The deadline was December 15th to let Ed Austin know if you were planning on having a team, but individual players can join a team through the end of January 2011.  Also please remember that we are moving Senior Mixed back to the summer. Ed’s contact information: 352-514-6733: eaustin@nullwindstream.net

    “Senior” leagues are  for players 50 years and older (as of 12/31/2011) and “Super Senior” leagues are for players 60 years and older (as of 12/31/2011).

    Christine Shurtleff will remain on board as co-LLC for Super Seniors and as a mentor to all of the remaining LLC’s.

    When forming teams, remember the 75/25 rule, which means that 75% of your players must be at level while 25% may be one level lower.