EASTER BOWL: FLORIDIANS FEW
The Miami Herald
Tuesday, March 29, 1983
The top seeds come from places like Brentwood, Tenn., Woodbury, N.Y., and Grosse Point, Mich. Other leading contenders grooved their strokes in such coldbeds of tennis as Lodi, Ohio, Okemos, Mich., and Excelsior, Minn.
Where are the Floridians? The few that you do find in this week's Olympus Easter Bowl junior tournament at Laver's International Tennis Resort in Delray Beach are several notches down the line.
Florida may continue to rank second only to California in terms of depth in junior tennis, but it's not No. 2 in cranking out superstars as it used to be. There are no Chris Evert Lloyds or Kathy Rinaldis or even a Van Winitsky in this week's Americans-only tournament that has attracted the nation's best boys and girls.
Of the 72 seeded players in the three boys' and three girls' age divisions, only 12 are from Florida. A 13th would have been Miami's Mary Joe Fernandez, No. 6 in girls' 14-and-under, who withdrew because of illness. The highest seed is Fort Lauderdale's Clare Evert, No. 3 in the girls' 16.
And South Florida, which has traditionally led the state in producing talent, has only one player besides Evert ranked among the top eight seeds. That's North Miami's Amy Schwartz, who has moved into Fernandez's No. 6 spot in the girls' 14.
Two seeds from upstate were ousted in Monday's first-round play. Jeff Chambers of St. Petersburg, No. 5 in boys' 18, lost to Scott Moody of Larchmont, N.Y., 7-6 (7-5), 6-3. And Jeff Brown of Hawthorne, No. 4 in boys' 16, lost to Jim Childs of Atlanta, 4-6, 6-4, 8-6.
"Last year I predicted California and Florida would not dominate," said Seena Hamilton, director of the 16th annual Easter Bowl. "California is still kind of heavy. With John Ross of Gainesville and Chuck Willenborg of Miami Shores now in college, Florida has a lot of good, solid talent but no domination. It's always a cycle, but I don't know why."
Bobby Curtis, junior coordinator for the Florida Tennis Association and the Youth Tennis Foundation, is searching for the answer, too.
"I can't say if it's a cycle, but the last two or three years we've dropped in numbers," said Curtis. "I don't know if it's because the money isn't there to travel around the country to play in tournaments, or if the others have caught up with us.
"Our depth is as big as ever. But we have been allowed only seven players per age division in the national tournament, and this year it's only six. That's based on our number of members in the FTA."
Only the boys were in action Monday, and the top seeds advanced easily. Aaron Krickstein of Grosse Point, Mich., No. 1 in boys' 18, whipped Chris Maier of Atlanta, 6-0, 6-3; Ricky Brown of Brentwood, Tenn., tops in the 16s, downed Cortney Taylor of St. Petersburg, 6-0, 6-3; and Chris Garner of Bayshore, N.Y., breezed past Tommy Alfono of San Antonio, Tex., 6-1, 6-0.
The girls' 18 and 14 divisions begin competition today and the girls' 16 will begin Wednesday.