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FHSAA Tennis Senior Spotlight: Harry Michalowski

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State Champion alas! He’s been working at it for the last four years and Lake Nona Senior, Harrison “Harry” Michalowski finally conquered that mountain.  

Michalowski was one of the top players that competed at the 2022 FHSAA Tennis State Tournament, and we had a chance to catch up with him after his monumental victory to talk about his tennis career thus far.  

Before becoming a state champ, Michalowski was just a young boy when he first picked up the tennis racket. The person responsible for introducing him to the sport 14 years ago, was his father, who also served as his first coach. 

When asked which person has been the most influential in his career, it was a no-brainer that he said his dad. “He’s been my coach for as long as I can remember, and we’ve gone back and forth on things, but we’ve always been together working.” 

Michalowski has soaked in a lot from his father throughout the years.

Another person who has helped develop his game is Roger Federer. Michalowski said that Fed is his favorite player and just by watching him, he’s learned a few things. “I try to keep it calm and collected as much as possible. It doesn’t always happen, but as much as I can, and I try to mimic his game just a little bit.” 

That combination of his dad’s influence and watching Federer, has paid off immensely. Michalowski led his high school team, Lake Nona, to their first State Championship in their history. On top of that, he also took home the Doubles Overall title with his partner Kartik Mandla.  

It wasn’t an easy road to his victories, but Michalowski has learned that you need to have mental toughness to overcome difficult times. “Losses are going to come, you’re going to lose matches. So, I think that’s something to remember,” Michalowski recalled. “Nobody’s perfect, and just being able to understand that and move on.”  

Using this mentality, he was able to rally his team, who he referred to as family. “I wouldn’t say we’re so much a team, but more of a family,” Michalowski explained. “We really got close as the season progressed, and I think that really helped us move through states.”  

Lake Nona’s Harrison Michalowski (right) won the 4A Team and Doubles Overall draw.

Not only did that chemistry help him, but the experience Michalowski had under his belt. Back in his freshman year, Lake Nona reached the state finals, but they were shut down by Miami Palmetto.  

Michalowski, with a smile on his face, talked about how sweet it was to get revenge on them in his final season. “We made state finals and lost [in 2019], so I wanted to come back and get the win.” 

While this marked the end of his high school career, Michalowski is reaching for the stars with his future. At this moment, he doesn’t know where he’s going to compete for his collegiate career. But, wherever he goes, he is confident that he will find success, just like he has for the last 14 years.  

 Check out the full interview

 

The post FHSAA Tennis Senior Spotlight: Harry Michalowski appeared first on USTA Florida.



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Juneteenth Tennis Event Grants Available

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USTA Florida is committed to advancing racial equality in tennis. Through our Amplify initiative, we seek to engage and amplify Black voices throughout the Florida tennis community. To help push this initiative forward, in the month of June we are offering 10, one-time reimbursement grants of $200 to providers offering approved Juneteenth Tennis events. This opportunity will not only help promote tennis in your local community, but also drive potential players/members to your organization.

In order to receive these funds being offered, please complete this application by June 9. Information on requirements and accountability are included in the application, and our team may follow up to request more information as needed. 

To be approved, this event must: 

  • Take place in June 2022 
  • Include at least 15 participants 
  • Be run by a Safe Play approved provider
  • Demonstrate commitment to diversity and inclusion
  • Incorporate history of Juneteenth during the event

Examples of community organizations providers can partner with:

  • NJTLS
  • 100 Black Men
  • Jack and Jill
  • Boys and Girls Club
  • African American Chamber of Commerce
  • Black Sports Professionals
  • Greek Life on college campuses

Examples of how to celebrate:

  • Live music
  • Food Trucks
  • Discussions amongst historians
  • Incorporating Black community vendors
  • Incorporating Black art and culture

Educational resources on Juneteenth:

If you would like to run a Juneteenth Tennis event but aren’t sure where to start, please reach out to Ronald Lyons at lyons@ustaflorida.com.



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2022 Special Olympics State Tennis Championships Delivered Fun For All

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This past weekend nearly 200 athletes, 50 coaches, and over 200 volunteers from across the state gathered to compete and help in the annual Special Olympics State Tennis Championships, held at the USTA National Campus. The participants showed just how much tennis meant to them and that it isn’t all about winning but having fun playing the sport.

On every court you could find happiness, joy, and laughter. Tournament Director, Will Speed, mentioned how great it was to see everyone out on the courts.

“The energy out here is fantastic, you have tons of volunteers, athletes, parents, and coaches,” Speed said. “Even though it’s a competition, they’re still here to encourage each other, bring positivity to the sport and build up everybody’s skill level.”

Players were running around the court to keep the rally going.

Christopher Vinci just got involved with the game last year and loves to be out there playing. When asked about his favorite part of participating in the Florida Special Olympics, Vinci said, “playing with and getting to meet other people.”

Red ball player, Daniel Jordan told us that tennis has allowed him to be active and the Special Olympics events are always a blast. He’s been competing for 19 years and comes back because “it’s fun, it’s a great workout, and great cardio for all athletes of any kind.”

Daniel loves how tennis keeps him active.

Another athlete, Thomas Shervington’s favorite tennis memory is from the Special Olympics State Games. “Last year, I took a gold medal, my first-ever in tennis singles,” Thomas recalled.

The environment was focused on fun as the outcome of the match didn’t matter, but being able enjoy competing with other people did.

While these players brought the positivity, there were also loads of coaches and the volunteers that were doing the same.

One coach, Sharon Holloway, recently got involved with Special Olympics Tennis back in 2020 and said it’s one of the most rewarding things ever.

Players were focused but also remembered to have fun.

“After a long day, you come out here and it’s fun. The athletes inspire you to push harder because you know they’re giving their personal best,” Holloway recalled. “I love it, the State Games are some of my favorite things to do because you get to see everyone in their own element.”

Another coach, Tom Shervington, said it’s all about the athletes and making sure they are setup to succeed. “I’ve taken little kids, who can barely hold a racket and then next thing you know they’re competing at state championships,” Tom said. “It’s for the athletes, but it’s actually to make them better, not me.”

Tanya Bartlett got involved with coaching and volunteering to support her son RaHeem and others                           who participate in the Special Olympics.

Tanya began coaching and volunteering to support her son RaHeem.

“Just being there to cheer them on and watch their faces. Win or lose they’re all good sports and I love it,” Bartlett said. As a parent, it can be extremely moving and she shared how much it means to see her son compete at these events. “Watching the ability of doing things that he’s not used to doing, things that’s he’s never done before, and watching his growth.”

The Special Olympics have touched many lives and athlete Cyrus Buker had nothing but good things to say about it. “Get involved, it’s a great program, we need more volunteers and more coaches, please get involved.”

The game of tennis brings community together and Will Speed reiterated that when looking back at the tournament. “Tennis is a sport for everybody, it doesn’t atter your level of abilities or disabilities, tennis is for all.”

If you tant to learn more about Adaptive Tennis, visit our website at www.ustaflorida.com/in-the-community/adaptive-and-wheelchair/.

The post 2022 Special Olympics State Tennis Championships Delivered Fun For All appeared first on USTA Florida.



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FHSAA Tennis Senior Spotlight: Dylan Chang

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Blood, sweat, and tears, that’s what True North Academy tennis player, Dylan Chang pours into the game every time he steps on the court. 

It wasn’t something that Chang did right away, but since he started playing as a four-year-old, and had great mentors, he picked up those skills quickly. 

During his appearance at the 2022 FHSAA State Championship, we were able to learn more about Chang, how it feels to graduate early, his collegiate plans, and what he does to elevate his performance. 

Chang has a couple of major influences in his life when it comes to tennis, and two of them have been there every step of the way. “My uncles were the ones who got me involved. They coach at the Tennis Academy,” he said. 

Dylan Chang has learned a lot from his uncles and sister.

His uncles, Kev and Andre, have each contributed in their own ways, teaching Chang different aspects of the game that he uses every day.  

“Uncle Kev taught me how to hit a one hander because my two used to be horrible,” Chang said. Uncle Andre on the other hand has worked with Chang on the mental aspect of tennis. “Uncle Andre builds up my confidence level and everything.” 

He also mentioned two other people that have shaped him into the player he is. “My main coach, Coach Wilson, taught me everything I know right now.” Chang also shouted out his older sister as “she really helped me a lot.”  

His two uncles coach at True North, so despite being homeschooled he chose to compete for them. He put on a memorable performance at the FHSAA State Championship, while representing True North.

The True North Academy standout took home the Overall Doubles Championship, finished runner-up in the Overall Singles draw, and his team fell a line short of playing for a state title.  

Chang won the Overall Doubles State Championship and finished second in Singles.

Right after that loss in the team play, Chang asked us to give him some time because he needed to go cheer up his teammates and be a true leader. When we asked him what ‘team’ meant to him he said, “To me it means family, that’s what we build our team around.”  

Even though he is a great leader off the court, while he’s on it, Chang finds the most fun from playing singles. “I like to fight out there, three-hour grind matches even though my body can’t take it, but I still like to go out there and compete.”  

Chang is set to graduate high school early and plans to take some college courses and train before setting off on his college journey. “My dream school is UT Austin [Texas],” he said. He lived in Texas until he was 12 and used to watch his sister compete at tournaments in the area and fell in love with it. 

 Check out the full interview

 

The post FHSAA Tennis Senior Spotlight: Dylan Chang appeared first on USTA Florida.



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