By Nick Nahas

Two local UTSA tennis clubs will compete for national and state championships in their respective conferences.
A women’s tennis team representing the Fishhawk Ranch Tennis Club won the three-day USTA Florida Sectional Championship in Lake Nona, Orlando, on August 11-13. The 18 and over level 3.0 USTA team will compete in Nationals from October 20-22 in Surprise, Arizona.

The squad, lead by team captain, Jackie Caouette, had an outstanding regular season, going undefeated and winning all seven of their matches in the process. They then won their two local playoff games to qualify for Sectionals, where they won all five of their matches to qualify for Nationals. “It’s definitely a big deal to make Nationals,” said Caouette. “My mother made nationals twice, so I’m excited to follow in her footsteps.”

The ladies not only won, but they dominated the competition, only losing nine individual matches out of 70 total matches throughout the entire regular and championship seasons. Each team match consisted of two lines of singles and three lines of doubles. They are the first team from the Fishhawk Tennis Center to ever qualify for USTA Nationals, and they are the only 3.0 team from Florida to qualify for Nationals. They have 15 women on their team, including Caouette, Ashley Toohey, Nikki Kipp, Shannon Deck, Kelly Oldham, Pam Smith, Monica Eiermann, Agnes Lirag, Kim Ortmeier, Andrea Cammarata, Tabetha Vandeboe, Alison Dominic, Wendy Bartlett, Christine Merrill and Christina Sharp. “We are going to bring the National Title home to Florida,” said Caoutte.

In addition to the Fishhawk Ranch Tennis Club women making it to Nationals, the men from the River Hills Country Club will compete in Sectionals from December 8-10 in Lake Nona, Orlando. The 7.5 men’s combo team consisting of players age 25-65, competing in the USTA adult league of players 18 and over, managed to go undefeated in the regular season, finishing 6-0.

The squad, lead by team captain, Luis Ferrey, qualified for Sectionals after winning the league by defeating the Avila Country Club two sets to one in the Championship. Ferrey, who has been playing tennis for over 40 years, came to the River Hills Country Club from another club after several players left, and he assembled his current team, which has 16 players. The members, in addition to Ferrey, are Jay Bortner, Edgar Alvarez, Brad Duncan, Alvin Macasinag, Ernie Pabon, Ben DeBrocke, Jeffrey Wong, Bruce Reilly, Gavin Smith, James Schneider, John Figlewski, Curt Kenyon, Craig Swartz, Barry Shollenberger and Ken Chin.

Ferrey hopes that his team can bring home the state title. This league does not have a Nationals event. “We are expected to go all the way because we are an undefeated team, but it’s not going to be easy,” said Ferrey.

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Nick Nahas
Nick Nahas has written for the Osprey Observer since 2016. He has lived in the Valrico area since 2002 and has his bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida. He is dedicated to covering sports in Hillsborough County at every level.