Kotz

Lizl Kotz

International senior stars Diane Barker and Brenda Carter have new company with Charleston connections on the International Tennis Federation's USTA world senior championship cup teams.

One newcomer is Barker's son Matt Hane, a former Porter-Gaud standout.

Another is Mount Pleasant resident Lizl Kotz, the current No. 1 women's 40 player in the nation who won the recent National Women's 40 Clay Courts. Kotz has been named to the USTA's four-player women's 40 Young Cup team.

Brandon Blakenbarker, Hane's doubles partner and a pro at Kiawah Island until just recently, also is listed on the 2018 ITF Young Seniors World Championship rosters. Hane and Blakenbarker are part of the four-player men's 35 Italia Cup team.

The ITF team competition will be held in Miami in October, followed by the world individual championships.

"I was hoping Matt and I would be selected since we were ranked No. 1 in the nation last year in doubles," said Blakenbarker from Sag Park Village in The Hamptons where he is now serving as head pro at Mashashimuet Park.

"But being this was our first year in the 35s we weren't really sure how the selection process would be done."

The Blakenbarker/Hane team has won five national titles, including two this year.

Hane can be found these days at the Country Club of Virginia in Richmond where he is the head pro. After serving as the pro at the I'On Club, Hane was a club pro in Baton Rouge, La., before moving to Virginia.

"It feels great to make the world team," said Hane, currently the USTA's No. 2-ranked men's 35 player. "It's been a goal of mine for a few years now so I'm glad to make it now that I'm old enough at 35. So all in all, including mother/son tournaments I believe that's 22 nationals played with 20 gold balls, one silver and one bronze (12 golds in mother/son, five in doubles and three in singles)."

Kotz also is pleased to be selected to one of the international cup teams for the first time.

"I knew when I put my name in to be considered, it wasn't out of the question for me to be selected since I had a couple of good national results last year," said Kotz, a 42-year-old native of Johannesburg, South Africa, and a former Indiana University star.

"That being said, every time I go to a national or team event, I am amazed at the depth of great players. Many of them have experience and confidence from playing on the tour at a younger age. I feel fortunate and excited to be invited to this event and be around a lot of great tennis."

Mainwhile, Barker and Carter stay busy representing women's 60 and 70 USTA cup teams, Barker in 60s and Carter in 70s.

INTERSECTIONAL CHAMPS

Local coach Randy Pate and juniors Anna Ross, Carri Hayes and Whitley Pate played major roles in the recent USTA National Intersectional Championships, leading the Southern Section's 14s and 16s teams to a rare sweep of the competition. Each team was made up of four boys and four girls.

Ross, the South's No. 2 girls 18 player, helped the Southern 16-and-under team win the national team championship in Shreveport, La.

Randy Pate coached the Southern's 14-and-under team to a national title in Auburn, Ala. The namesake of the Randy Pate Academy and his daughter, Whitley Pate, and Hayes played prominent roles in the championship.

Hayes scored a three-set victory over the USTA Winter Nationals singles champion. Pate and her mixed doubles partner won the decisive match against the Southern California team to break a 4-4 match deadlock and give the Southern team the national 14s title.

"Bill Ozaki, the head of USTA Southern, said the South has never swept the 14s and 16s before," Randy Pate reported.

The 18-and-under competition will be held in late July after the various National Clay Courts, with local stars Jared Pratt and Emma Navarro leading the Southern teams. The girls competition will be held in Claremont, Calif., and the boys in Urbana, Ill.

MW JUNIORS SHINE

MWTennis Academy CEO Jeff Wilson has been smiling about the results of a group of his junior academy players in the ongoing men's and women's $30K Mid-Atlantic Clay Court Championships in Midlothian, Va.

"It was a good experience for our players," Wilson said. "Max Smith is 15 years old, but he got a singles win over a player from Notre Dame and a doubles win with Kerim Hyatt over players from Ohio State."

Hyatt went 3-0 in men's qualifying to advance to the singles main draw and also teamed with Smith to win three men's doubles qualifying matches to make that main draw as well. Smith won two qualifying singles matches.

Allie Gretkowski, who turned 14 just four months ago, flashed her potential by winning two women's main draw singles matches to make the round of 16 against the older players as she prepared for her wild card appearance in the USTA's Girls 18 National Clay Courts that start on Sunday (today) at LTP Tennis.

Reilly Wilson, Jeff Wilson's son, won a pair of qualifying matches in singles in the Richmond area event. The MWTennis group also included Elle Bredeman and Mattie Dermody. LTP's Kat Lyman made the round of 32 in women's singles.

LOCAL NOTES

  • Rising local star Coy Simon has climbed to No. 1 in the South in boys 18, while Porter-Gaud freshman Sophie Williams remains No. 1 in girls 14.
  • Ellie Halbauer is at it again on the European pro circuit. The 21-year-old former Charleston junior made the semifinals of a $25K pro circuit tournament last weekend in Aschaffenburg, Germany.

Reach James Beck at jamesbecktennis@gmail.com.