Sun Tennis Players of the Year


Jazz Whittaker of P.K. Yonge and Erik Vincek of Buchholz are The Gainesville Sun's tennis players of the year.

Brad McClenny/Staff photographer
Published: Friday, June 1, 2012 at 11:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, June 2, 2012 at 12:35 a.m.

2012 GAINESVILLE SUN BOYS TENNIS PLAYER OF THE YEAR

ERIK VINCEK, BUCHHOLZ

Credentials

The 6-foot-2, 185-pound senior, who was The Sun's player of the year as a freshman in 2009, almost didn't play his final season of high school tennis. While Vincek admitted to being burned out on the sport and thought about quitting prior to the season, his best friend and doubles partner Alex Vlasak and Bobcats interim coach Jay Godwin convinced him otherwise. Things worked out for Vincek, who posted a 16-2 mark at No. 1 singles, losing just five sets all season. He claimed his third consecutive district title at No. 1 singles, clinching his third straight trip to the FHSAA Class 4A state tournament. Vincek also earned the top-seed on the individual side of the draw and reached the state semifinals. At No. 1 doubles, Vincek and Vlasak, "The Killer Vs" as they are called by Godwin, finished with a 14-2 record. The duo captured the District 1-4A title and advanced to the state semifinals. Vincek is ranked 10th in the state in the boys 18 rankings, according to the USTA's May rankings.

"I definitely lost my love for the game a little bit, I didn't even want to touch a racket," Vincek said. "They (Vlasak and Godwin) both really motivated me to keep on playing and helped me realize that I am not going to stop playing tennis and that I love it.

"I was glad because I got back to my prime game and I played probably even better than I ever had."

Personal notes

Vincek is still a big fan of the Rubik's Cube. Although, he said there was a while where he didn't pick up the 3-D puzzle, he can still solve it in about 35 seconds. Vincek, who has a 4.35 weighted GPA, is planning to attend Florida in the fall and hopes to be involved with the Gators men's tennis team.

"I had an interview with Andy Jackson the (then) UF coach and he said it would be really tough to make the team, so I kind of lost a lot of confidence there," Vincek said. "I really wanted to go to UF and play for their team (as a walk on). He didn't say yes or no, he just said you might be able to, but he was kind of hinting that you're probably not. I pretty much got the message.

"I might even still try to practice with the UF team, I know some guys there."

Quoteworthy

"I was pretty happy. I put my whole life into it. I think that was one of the things (the player of the year award) in my mind, let's give it one last try. I started as the player of the year and then end as the player of the year, that would be nice. I did it, so that's great."- Erik Vincek.

2012 GAINESVILLE SUN GIRLS TENNIS PLAYER OF THE YEAR

JAZZ WHITTAKER, P.K. YONGE

Credentials

For the fifth straight year, a P.K. Yonge girls tennis player takes home this award. The 6-foot Whittaker wins this award for the second straight year. She turned in a 14-1 mark, which included winning her second straight District 4-1A title at No. 1 singles. She followed with a pair of regional victories in leading the Blue Wave to their second FHSAA Class 1A state tournament appearance in three years. At the state tournament held at Red Bug Lake Park in Casselberry, Whittaker claimed the state title at No. 1 singles on the team side of the bracket. Although she fell to Delray Beach American Heritage's Rasheeda McAdoo in the overall state title match, Whittaker became the first area girls tennis player to play for an overall singles state championship since Eastside's Amanda Field was the Class 4A runner-up in 1998. Whittaker and Madison Sagas also won a district title at No. 1 doubles for the Blue Wave, which placed third at state as a team. Last spring, Whittaker teamed with Kiah Turner and the duo won the Class 1A state title on the individual side of the doubles bracket. In 2010, Whittaker and Turner won the Class 1A state crown at No. 2 doubles. Whittaker is ranked 58th in the state in the girls 18 rankings, according to the USTA's May rankings.

"During the year, I had a few set things," Whittaker said. "I wanted to beat everyone pretty soundly and I wanted to have the whole team get to state this year because I thought it would be a good experience for the younger girls."

Personal notes

She played volleyball for P.K. Yonge as a sophomore, but decided to switch fall sports as a junior. Instead she was a member of the Blue Wave swim team this past fall. Whittaker was an honorable mention all-area selection in the 100 breast stroke and swam on the 200 medley relay team. Whittaker said she did that for cross training and to build more muscle. Whittaker said that she plans on playing tennis for a Division-1 school at the collegiate level and has started to generate interest from schools. The right-hander lists her kick serve, her forehand and her net game in general as her strengths.

Quoteworthy

"I kind of forgot about the award I wasn't really thinking about it too much. I think I was in History class, I was in school (when I received the message about winning the award). I was goofing around with my friends and said, 'Winning.' They were like, what did you win this time? I told them tennis player of the year. Mr. Bourn is my teacher and we were doing busy work. I am goofy and they are used to it." — Jazz Whittaker.

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

▲ Return to Top