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Awards & Achievements, March 2017

February 16, 2017 11:52 AM

Southern players and organizations are constantly making their mark in the world of tennis. Here's a list of recent awards, achievements and news in March 2017.

Navarro wins Easter Bowl while riding hot streak

Emma Navarro also won the USTA National Spring 16s with Southerner Chloe Beck. Photo: Bill Kallenberg

Charleston, S.C.'s Emma Navarro captured the 2017 Easter Bowl, a Girls' 16s USTA national championship. 

She defeated Fiona Crawley of Texas in the final 7-6(8), 6-0.

Navarro, 15, is on a torrid streak this year, capturing five major USTA Southern or national titles in the Girls' 18s. During that streak she has lost only one set in 60 matches, coming in the semifinal of a USTA National Level 2 tournament.

Louisiana Tri-Level team played for national crown

Front row, from left: Dawn Vincent, Kerri Becker (captain), Debbie Cobb, Angela Jeffreys. Second row: Monique Bryson, Sunnie Kern, Wendy Puente, Ann Melius, Leanne Johnson, Katie Mccomiskey, Dianne Lowings.

The New Orleans women's team advanced to the USTA's BNP Paribas Open Tri-Level Championships. The tournament was played in Indian Wells, Calif. while the ATP World Tour and WTA pros played final three days of the BNP Paribas Open.

Captain Kerri Becker reported the team defeated Southwest (Chicago), Midwest (Tucson, Ariz.) and Intermountain (Idaho) in round-robin play.

The New Orleans women then defeated Florida 2-1 in the semifinals.

The final versus Missouri Valley (Iowa) was a 2-1 loss, "It came down to a third-set tiebreak (in which) we fell short a few points," Becker said. "It was amazing competition in the most beautiful facility during an amazing professional tournament. I could not be more proud of my team!"

Tennibot wins TIA "March Madness" Innovation Challenge

Brian Baker and Nikola Mektic enjoy their Gibson guitars/Memphis Open trophies. Ron Angle/Memphis Open

Three Southern-based businesses, including the winner, were selected by The Tennis Industry Association (TIA). The TIA’s “March Madness” event was the Tennis Industry Innovation Challenge, a “Shark Tank”-like competition to identify the most innovative and creative product or service in the tennis industry.

The Innovation Challenge took place on March 27 during key tennis industry meetings at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando. Six companies, which had been selected from 37 overall applicants for the Innovation Challenge, each gave a five-minute presentation on what makes their tennis product or service special, unique and important to the growth of the sport.

In the final analysis, the panel of judges picked Tennibot, which is based in Auburn, Ala., as the winner of the inaugural Tennis Industry Innovation Challenge. Tennibot (www.tennibot.com) is a robotic tennis ball collector that detects tennis balls on the court using cameras, sensors and complex algorithms. The Tennibot unit also comes with an app that allows the user to choose where to pick up balls and keeps track of how many balls it picks up.

“I am thrilled to win,” says Tennibot Founder Haitham Eletrabi. “At first, I was worried because there was so much that I wanted to tell the judges in just five minutes. And, the other finalists had great ideas. Our product helps people maximize their time on the tennis court and improves their overall tennis experience.” (Eletrabi can be reached at haitham@tennibot.com or 334-444-8968.)

As the winner of the Tennis Industry Innovation Challenge, Tennibot received $1,000; a national news release to about 2,000 media outlets with a potential audience of 30 million consumers; coverage in Tennis Industry Magazine; a commemorative trophy; a membership in the TIA; and other benefits.

The other two Southern finalists in the Tennis Industry Innovation Challenge were:

* Billie Jean King’s Eye Coach, based in Mount Pleasant, S.C. — This stationary, oscillating product (www.theeyecoach.com) is based around point-of-contact training and simulates live-ball timing, using the concept that 80 percent of the information needed in tennis is dependent on a player’s vision receiving the correct feedback on time. (Contact Lenny Schloss, info@theeyecoach.com; 800-716-9004.)

* Playmate Ball Machines iGenie, based in Raleigh, N.C. — The iGenie (www.playmatetennis.com) allows the player to select their level, shots they want to work on, and direction of the shots—all programmed into the unit. Players and coaches also can create up to seven drills to seven positions across the court with a drill restart delay to allow the player to get back to the baseline after finishing a drill at the net. (Contact Stan Oley, stan_oley@msn.com, 919-544-0344 or Anna Norris, anna@metaltek.net.)