LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Mother Nature did not cooperate Sunday for the first time in the five-year history of the Dick Vitale Intercollegiate Clay Court Classic tennis tournament.
Intermittent rain at the Lakewood Ranch Tennis Center delayed the women's doubles final until early evening and the men's singles final was canceled.
The 200 fans who did brave the elements and numerous delays to dry the court were treated to excellent tennis from 32 top college men and women players, said tournament director Paul Lederman.
"The level of play keeps getting higher and higher," Lederman said. "When we started, our head pro, Chris Marquez, had to call around to get players to come. Now they call us. We have to thank Lakewood Ranch residents Dick Vitale and Larry Wade for generating the support in Lakewood Ranch for this event every year."
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The men's singles final of Raphael Hemmeler of Duke University against teammate, Bruno Semenzato, was canceled after weather delayed the tourney schedule and because the pair play often and were in the doubles finals, said Ben Friendly, tennis program coordinator at the Lakewood Ranch Tennis Center.
In women's singles, unseeded Katarina "Kat" Adamovic of Oklahoma State University defeated No. 1 seed Belinda Woolcock of the University of Florida, 6-4, 6-0. Adamovic is from Serbia.
To reach the finals, Adamovic beat two University of Florida players, including No. 4 seed Stefani Stojic and Spencer Liang.
In men's doubles, the University of North Florida's Caio Gomes and Yannick Zuern defeated Hemmeler and Semenzato of Duke by 8-5 in an eight-game pro set, which college tournaments use now.
In women's doubles, Liang and Stojic came back to beat Adamovic and Vladica Babic of Oklahoma State, 8-1.
Florida, Duke, Oklahoma State, Princeton, Kentucky,
Michigan, Boston College, North Florida, Virginia, Florida Gulf Coast and Arizona sent athletes.
One of the unique aspects of the Vitale tennis tournament is Lakewood Ranch families put the players up for the event. For example, the Hagopian family of Lakewood Ranch played host to the Oklahoma State University Cowgirls, including outgoing Vladica "Vladdy" Babic from Montenegro, a country in Southeastern Europe on the Adriatic Sea.
Babic showed Gianna and Grace Hagopian how to do traditional Montenegro dances. The girls also learned about Japrak and Musaka, two Montenegro dishes made from cabbage and stewed meat.
"We had a lot of fun," said Grace, who said she plans on being a tennis star herself.
The girls also met Katarina "Kat" Adamovic, Babic's teammate from Serbia, which borders Montenegro on the northeast. Babic and Adamovic have known each other since junior tennis.
Adamovic has an unusual court style. Every time she wins a point she yells out "Ajde," which sounds like "iDay" and translates into English as "Come on."
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter@RichardDymond.