The Coral Reef Breakers tennis team, made up of 12-year-old novices, under the training of Friends of Miami Tennis at Coral Reef Park, has done the seemingly impossible and became local champions and 2011 state sectional champions.
Not only that, but 4-year-old player Ysabella Quelsly Bagayas of the Coral Reef Lil’ Bits was presented the Sportsmanship Trophy.
Cyndi Johnston, the director of Friends of Miami Tennis at Palmetto Bay’s Coral Reef Park, couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome because they only have had three months to develop their program.
“In the USTA Junior Team Tennis program we have 49 children in the summer program,” Johnston said. “At the end of the season we have the opportunity to go play as a state sectional tournament which is in Daytona Beach.
“Out of Coral Reef Park we sent six teams to sectionals, there were two weekends of play, the first for the 8s, 10s and 12s and this past weekend we took our 14 and 18 division teams. Our 12-and-under novice team, the Breakers, which was their first time playing in a sectional tournament, won the division.”
The Coral Reef teams are called the Players, Strikers, Green Hornets, Wizards, Breakers, Kool Kidz and Lil’ Bits.
“Our little 4-year-old, Ysabella Bagayas, won the Sportsmanship Award because she was determined to play even though she had a 104 fever,” Johnston said. “Her parents are nurses and gave her a Tylenol for the morning, and she really wanted to be a part of her team and play. So the United States Tennis Association awarded her the 8-and-under division award for her determination. The nice thing about the junior division is that it’s all teamwork, and they all play singles and doubles and mixed doubles even at the 8-and-under division.”
In that division the children play with a smaller court, mini-nets and low compression balls. Johnston is excited about participating.
“Before this summer, Coral Reef had never seen any teams go to sectionals,” Johnston said. “This is the first time they’ve ever been able to do this. Because the parents are really excited about the program we had a lot of participation.”
Johnston also said that the new program has had a number of benefits for the players and their families.
“Since Friends of Miami Tennis has arrived at Coral Reef Park, we have been able to play home matches, saving all of us and our parents much time and transportation challenges,” Johnston said. “By allowing us to play home matches at Coral Reef Park, our teams have been able to fit in more practices to prepare for sectionals, as the courts have been easily accessible and to not only the team players, but the community as well.”
Johnston said she hopes to get more families involved so they can enjoy the sport together.