Miami’s Katerina Stewart won the USTA Florida Bobby Curtis Junior State Championships for the second consecutive year.
Stewart, the No.3 seed in Girls 18s, upset No.2 seed Maci Epstein of Windermere 6-2, 6-3 in the finals at the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach.
“I’d seen her around a lot and actually played her in doubles but never in singles,” Stewart said. “I just played it by whatever she did. I just reacted to it. I counter punched. The heat was a factor, but today it wasn’t as hot as [the previous day].”
The previous day the combatants played their quarterfinals and semifinals in 92 degree temperatures with 90 percent humidity.
Last year Stewart won in Girls 16s.
In Boys 16s, No.7 seven seed Alfredo Perez of Coral Gables defeated No.11 seed Mirko Radosevic of Miami 6-3, 6-2 for the title.
Coached by Robert Gomez, the operations supervisor for the Kerdyk Biltmore and Salvadore Park tennis centers in Coral Gables, Perez arrived in the United States as a 9-year-old from Cuba. In Cuba, he played extensively but with smaller racquets, shorter courts and low-compression balls now popularized by the USTA 10 and Under Tennis program.
“Alfredo came to us at Salvadore Park in the summer of 2007,” Gomez said. “His father explained to me that it was the first time Alfredo had hit with a regular tennis ball. I noticed right away how well-rounded his skills were. Good two-handed drive, one-handed slice, one-handed backhand volley. In Cuba, he played with low-compression balls, which they use until the age of 10.”
Perez entered the finals with the advantage of wins over Radosevic in all their previous meetings.
“He was nervous in the final, so I tried to take advantage of that the best I can,” Perez said. “I was nervous at first, but then I relaxed a little bit. I haven’t done that well here in the past. Last year I was the No.1 seed in the 14s but lost in the quarters. This year has been a really good tournament.”
Top seed Adriana Reami of Miami was runner-up in Girls 14s.
Formerly known as the USTA Florida Junior State Closed, the tournament is the annual top junior singles event in Florida for age groups 10-18, and one of the top in the nation for competitive junior tennis talent.
From USTA PlayDays to kids tennis and 10 and Under Tennis, there are a number of opportunities to get involved in tennis events this summer in Miami.
North Miami-Dade Summer Junior Round Robin Series events include three divisions: 10 and under (orange ball/60-foot court), 12 and under, and 14 and under.
July 8: North Miami-Dade Summer Junior Round Robin Series at
Michael Ann Russell JCC, 18900 NE 25 Ave., North Miami Beach, (305-932-4200).
Aug. 26: North Miami-Dade Summer Junior Round Robin Series at
Diplomat Country Club, 501 Diplomat Pkwy (4th Avenue), Hallandale Beach, (954-465-7606).
10 and Under Tennis is designed for children featuring smaller court sizes, racquet sizes, foam and decompressed balls, a simple scoring system, and net heights adjusted to ease kids into the sport. Similar mini-tennis formats have long been popular in Europe, where current stars such as Roger Federer and Kim Clijsters first learned the game with age-adjusted racquets, balls and court sizes.