by: Ryan Kohn/Sports Reporter
I told you so.
I say this not with a huge smile, but a shrug. I’m not here to gloat, just to share facts. Like the fact that, as I wrote last summer, I knew Sarasota tennis player Nikki Yanez, once the No. 1-ranked United States Tennis Association player in her class, would return to form after taking time away from tournament play to refine her fundamentals.
How is this for rounding back into form: Yanez has won nine of her last 10 tournaments, including taking the USTA Level 3 Singles title — the highest-level offered in Florida, Level 1 being the highest overall — on Jan. 15 in Lakeland. She defeated Weston’s Kassandra Di Staulo, a four-star recruit herself, in three sets.
Think about how many things you can say you got right nine out of the last 10 times you tried them? Me, I can’t even type 10 words in a row without misspelling some, or make chili 10 times without having some combination of leaving the heat on too long and not using enough spices once or twice. (This happened to me during the Super Bowl. Didn’t add enough cumin, making the chili fine but underwhelming. Pro tip: Always add plenty of cumin.)
Now think about how many consecutive individual victories make up a tournament win in tennis, and you begin to see the scope of Yanez’s accomplishment. It’s incredible, regardless of level, and to do it at some of the most competitive tournaments in the state makes it even more so.
Yanez said a lot of her success rides on her being “match tough,” or learning to finish matches when she has the chance.
“If I am up 40-30 in a game, it is about getting those points and ending the game,” Yanez said. “Never in my mind do I say, ‘I am going to lose.’ ”
It was in the final of the first tournament in her run, the Inspiration Academy Level 6 Junior Championships in September, where she first felt her old form return. She was in a third-set tiebreak and, instead of feeling the pressure, felt calm.
“I said to myself, ‘I got this,’” Yanez said. “I went out and destroyed.”
She has also been helped by a mobile app her father, Paul Yanez, is developing. The app, called Tennis Tracking, can be used from a smartwatch or smartphone and shows real-time stats, like the percentage of break points you are winning, plus reminders to do things like stay hydrated and bring a change of clothes to the arena. Right now, the app is not available for commercial use, but that may change as it develops, Yanez said.
“Numbers don’t lie,” Paul Yanez said. “Before, you could not communicate with players in this way. Now, you are talking in a language that is real to them.”
Nikki Yanez’s next big tournament begins March 16, the USTA Florida Level 4 Championship at the USTA National Campus in Orlando. She will play a few local tournaments before then to warm up, she said. She will probably win those, with her 110 mph serve (she wants it at 120 mph or faster eventually) and quickness and mental game.
Yanez is back up to 22nd in the Tennis Recruiting Network’s national prospect list for her class, and seventh in Florida.
She keeps up her win percentage of 90%, and those rankings will shoot even higher.
by: Ryan Kohn/Sports Reporter
It was a normal May tennis practice at Twin Lakes Park for Nikki Yanez until a father and daughter approached her.
They introduced themselves and said the daughter, Alexandra, had written a school paper on Yanez and what an inspiration she was, Yanez said. Yanez was taken aback but honored. It’s not every day that a stranger thinks of you as a role model.
Especially when you’re 14 years old yourself.
Yanez has been playing tennis since she was 8. She did gymnastics before that, and was a state champion, but envied her brothers who played tennis and were getting trophies and playing tournaments more frequently than her. In her father Paul Yanez’s eyes, tennis also offered a safer experience, with less injury risk than gymnastics. She has yet to suffer a serious injury on the court, he said.
Yanez still primarily trains like a gymnast. She only does about two hours of on-court tennis practice a day, spending up to six hours working on her conditioning. In lieu of attending a tennis academy, her family is her main support, with a few different private coaches helping out with specific aspects of her game. A trip to France to play in the Longines Future Tennis Aces tournament in 2016 let her see how the pros, playing simultaneously at the French Open, train, and she’s taken that experience with her.
“It’s all about you on the court,” Yanez said. “It’s your strengths, and you have to keep it up.”
Yanez shot up the age rankings, eventually landing at No. 1 in the United States Tennis Association at age 11 — not in Florida, but the entire country. She held that position for a while but has fallen from the top spot over the last year and change, as she’s focused not on playing tournaments (the biggest factor in rankings) but refining her game in practice, and making sure she’s prepared for the future. She currently sits at 29 on Babolat’s national recruiting rankings and 247 on the USTA Girls 14 list.
Her return to major junior tournaments came last month, when she reached the finals of the USTA Bobby Curtis Junior Sectional Championships in Orlando. Yanez called the tournament a “great experience” for her first showcase singles event in about a year. She’s next preparing for the National Clay Court Championships in Plantation starting July 15, and the National Championships (hard court) in Rome, Ga., starting Aug. 4. Her goal now is to reclaim her No. 1 ranking, something that might have caused stress in the past.
“When it (her rise in rankings) was first happening, I did feel pressure,” Yanez said. “My dad would say, ‘You’re the No. 1. Act like it and play like it, because you are.’ I think that got to me a little bit. I got nervous. But now I’m alright, I’m used to it.”
What makes Yanez so tough, Paul Yanez said, is that she plays a “male game.” Her forehand shot spins like a top, and her returns have a heaviness to them that her opponents aren’t used to seeing. That power, plus her gymnastics footwork, makes her a unique challenge, one she embraces. When asked what player she emulates, Nikki says perhaps the obvious answer — Serena Williams — but not before her actual favorite player, Rafael Nadal.
“Girls hate playing her,” Paul said, “but for her, it’s natural. She can hit normal or hit heavy and deep. She’s got a well-rounded game right now.”
Paul added that Nikki has been developing a Serena-esque serve, one so devastating that she aced one of her coaches, Denys Maasdorp, three times in a row in a recent singles match.
In preparation for her upcoming majors, Yanez played in May’s USTA $25,000 Women’s Professional Tennis Tournament at The Oaks Club in Osprey. Alexandra, the young essayist Yanez had met at Twin Lakes Park, was there every day of the event to cheer for her.
Being nationally known comes with its own set of challenges. When Yanez met Alexandra, she was wearing old workout clothes. In the future, she wants to always look professional and present positive body language, she said, because you never know who you’re going to meet.
She doesn’t want to disappoint anybody, and If Yanez reaches her potential, having fans will become the norm.
July 25, 2016
At the Girls’ 12s championships at the Polo Club of Boca Raton, No. 14 seeds Nikki Yanez (Sarasota)/Maria Drobotova (Deerfield Beach) raised the doubles trophy, in the final defeating fellow No. 14 seeds Calissa Dellabarca (Santa Barbara, Calif.)/Bridget Stammel (Dallas, Texas) 6-2, 4-6, 6-2.
The title for Yanez followed the Girls’ 12s singles championship last year.
USTA Florida Marketing & Communications Coordinator Rick Vach is the former publications editor for the ATP World Tour, editor of International Tennis magazine, editor/publisher of Play Tennis Florida magazine, and award-winning contributor to Tennis Week magazine.
This May, a group of elite tennis players from around the world gathered in Paris to show their prowess on red clay. And while the French Open got underway across town, these talented juniors under age 13, representing 16 countries, competed in the Longines Future Tennis Aces tournament in Paris’ business district, La Défense. The event kicked off with a draw ceremony inside the Eiffel Tower, as tennis legends Steffi Graf and Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario pulled names to determine the first-round match ups.
Luxury watch brand Longines celebrated its 10th anniversary as official partner and timekeeper of the French Open this year, marking the occasion with the release of a women’s version of the Conquest 1/100th Roland Garros timepiece. The watch features precision time keeping to one hundredth of a second, with flecks of orange in homage to the striking color of the terre battue at Roland Garros. Credit for the women’s model goes to Longines ambassador Steffi Graf, who saw the men’s version and asked the company to create a feminine counterpart.
The Longines Future Tennis Aces tournament was also inspired by Graf. “When we started eight years ago, we did it because we had a celebration of Stefanie Graf and Andre Agassi with ten years of victory at the French Open,” Juan-Carlos Capelli, Vice President of Longines and Head of International Marketing, tells Tennis View Magazine. “And we were looking for the new generation of tennis and the new champion of the French Open ten years after.” What began as an event for European countries has now expanded worldwide, with participants from North America, Australia, Asia, and Europe, alternating between boys and girls each year.
The 16 remarkable girls who were chosen to represent their countries this year are the top players from their respective nations. Nikki Yanez, a 12-year-old from Florida, won three matches in one day to clinch the US qualifying tournament and earn her trip to Paris. Yanez only started playing tennis when she was nine years old, and she is already beating girls who are going off to college – as well as her older brothers. She practices on the court for just one hour a day, but spends hours training off the court. She does gymnastics to help with balance, ballet for posture, and MMA to hit the ball harder. Her dad, who coaches her, believes that limiting court time forces her to spend every second focused on practice, and that effort shows in matches as Nikki constantly bounces on her toes with intense concentration.
Yanez counts Rafael Nadal as her idol, and she models her game after his. That means trying to impart as much spin as possible on the ball but also comes through in the way she mimics the Mallorcan’s impeccable sportsmanship and positive attitude. Watching Nikki play, it’s impossible to tell if she is winning or losing. After an error or before a big point, she turns to face the fence and calms herself down, using mantras that her dad has placed all over their home to hone her mental game. “I tell myself, ‘come on, you can do it, just forget about the last point,’” she says. Her strong game brought her all the way to the semifinals of the Paris event, where she lost a tight three-set match to the eventual champion, Spain’s María Dolores López Martínez, who won a Longines watch, a trophy, and sponsorship for her tennis equipment until age 16.
All the girls had a chance to practice at the Longines Academy in Paris and receive advice from Sánchez-Vicario, who told them to focus on having fun and just do their best. Kim Clijsters spent time with the players on the day of the final and reflected that seeing them reminded her of being a young girl watching the French Open on television and dreaming of the day when she could play in Paris.
Paul Yanez, Nikki’s father, says that the tournament was a great opportunity to compete against top international players – but more importantly, to develop new friendships. “Longines from the top down is really promoting that the kids have fun and they learn from the experience,” he says. “Other tournaments are more competitive. Longines wants the girls to actually become friends and everyone is friendly to each other.” After the final, the players were able to watch their idols in action at Roland Garros, a tournament they hope to compete in a few years from now. Just as Kim Clijsters made her dream come true, maybe some of these girls will make it to the French Open final one day.
American Nikki Yanez is through to the Longines Future Tennis Aces semis with a hard-fought win over Italy
Posted by Southern California Tennis News on April 30, 2016
Katrina Scott was one of eight Girls’ 12 from around the country who participated in the 2016 Longines Future Tennis Aces round-robin tournament held at Delray Beach Tennis Center in Florida. Scott played well, but came up 6-3, 6-2 short against Nikki Yanez of Sarasota, in the final. The victory earned Yanez a spot in the prestigious Longines Future Tennis Aces international event held annually during Roland Garros.
Nikki Yanez and Katrina Scott Photo John Butler
Tournament Director John Butler said, “Katrina made the final, but Nikki was too powerful. Both are great girls and we would’ve been incredibly proud for either to represent the US in Paris.”
SARASOTA – Sarasota’s Yanez earns all-expense paid trip to play international event
Though there has hardly been enough time for what she has won to completely sink in, Nikki Yanez is already putting together a list of places she wants to see and things she wants to do.
The Eiffel Tower, the museums, the restaurants — all the things that make the City of Light so enchanting to people of all ages has her attention.
Twelve-year old Nikki knows she will love Paris in the springtime and she can hardly wait to start making memories that will last a lifetime.
The Sarasota resident will be on her way to Paris in a few weeks on an all-expense paid trip. She is heading there to play against some of the best young international tennis players at the same time that the best pro players in the world are competing nearby in the French Open.
“This will be an amazing experience for me and a memory I can tell everyone when I am older,” Yanez said.
She has been making memories on the tennis court almost daily for the past couple of years, yet few have been better than this past weekend when she won the 2016 Longines Future Tennis Aces tournament in Delray Beach to lock down the trip to Paris.
The win earned Yanez the trip that will put her in Paris for a week to compete in the Longines 16-player international event to be held May 26-29. It is a trip that begins May 23 and includes travel, accommodations and food paid for her and one of her parents.
She certainly made her father, Paul Yanez, proud this past weekend by the way she handled herself with so much on the line.
“The thing that concerned me was finding out several days prior to the tournament that Nikki would have to play three matches in one day,” said Paul Yanez, who serves as Nikki’s coach. “She does not spend too much time on a tennis court on a daily basis so I was not 100 percent confident that she could play a high level of tennis for an entire day against the best girls in the U.S.”
Turns out dad didn’t need to worry. Nikki, who uses gymnastics training to prepare for tennis, got better as the matches went along.
After losing the first set of the first match she played, Yanez won the next eight sets the rest of the way.
“It was definitely her best performance ever,” Paul Yanez said. “I could not be any prouder.”
She saved her best for last, avenging a loss a week earlier in the final of the 12-under Nationals (Easter Bowl) in Indian Wells, California to Katrina Scott. This time Yanez prevailed, winning 6-3, 6-2.
Now she gets the chance to play on red clay, a surface where her idol, Rafael Nadal has made so many memories of his own.
“Because of the surface the points will be longer, so I will prepare to play matches that might take two or three hours to finish,” she said. “In the next five weeks I’ll be working really hard on my conditioning.”
Yanez is the third 12-under player from the area on the past four years to earn a trip to Paris as part of the Longines event. Bradenton’s Adam Neff earned a trip in 2013 and Bradenton’s Sophie Edwards, then a Sarasota County resident, won in 2014.
Invitations were extended to the top players in her age category. The 16 who received bids were divided into two divisions with four players each to take part in a round-robin format. The top players in each division moved into the championship match with the trip to Paris on the line.
“I felt like I had a good chance to win,” Yanez said about the event. “I had been training so hard for the tournament. I really felt like I was ready for it.”
Now she is ready for Paris.
Congratulations to the winner of the the Delray Beach Tournament. Good luck to Nikki Yanez, United States’ official entry into Longines’ 16-player international event played during
the French Open, “Roland Garros” – What a great opportunity with expenses paid to Paris, France. We all wish you good luck Nikki!
Yay!!! I’m on the cover of Play Sarasota Magazine (formerly Totally Tennis Magazine)
Fit 941 Magazine
HEY!! Our first student athlete featured, Nikki Yanez, just won the national tennis championship!!! We knew we had it right!
At age 11, Nikki Yanez takes different path to top of the tennis world
By Mic Huber
Height: 5 feet, 4 inches
Weight: 117 pounds
Trophies won: 32
Latest accomplishment: Won USTA Girls National 12-under tournament.
Favorite female pro: Serena Williams. “Serena has the best serve in tennis and has beautiful ground strokes. She is also very competitive and exciting to watch.”
Favorite male pro: Rafael Nadal. “I base my groundstrokes after Rafa. He plays every point hard and has the best topspin ever. The one thing I am always trying to do on the court is to add more and more spin.”
Favorite pro tournament: U.S. Open
SARASOTA — Now that Nikki Yanez has proven that she is a fast learner, there is no telling what she might accomplish in the world of sports.
Less than one year after taking up gymnastics, at age 7, Yanez won a state title. Two months later she added a region title. And after capturing another state title the next year, little Nikki decided to spread her wings by trying other things.
A little more than two years after turning to tennis, Yanez, now 11, has put herself on the sport’s radar around the country by winning the USTA 12-Under national tournament title.
Now Nikki is starting to dabble in mixed martial arts. Maybe Ronda Rousey should begin to worry.
Nikki Yanez serves during a practice session at Twin Lakes Park. COURTESY PHOTO
“My mom won’t let me compete yet,” shrugs Yanez, who says she is intrigued by Rousey’s strength and power, and the excitement the MMA star generates. “Hopefully, when I am older.”
Maybe MMA will be in Nikki’s future, but it is tennis that is currently commanding the present of the home-schooled Sarasota resident.
After overwhelming opponents her age in local and state level tournaments, Yanez turned the heads of the tennis establishment recently by winning the national 12s title.
Knocking off the No. 1, No. 4 and No. 5 seeded players along the way, Yanez took her game to a new level.
That kind of success can open doors. Prominent coaches are beginning ring the front bell, eager to get a foot in the entry way and have a chance to work with an athletic girl who has shown she knows how to win matches.
Yanez established herself as a threat to take the tournament title in Alpharetta, Georiga, by beating top-seeded Brooke Theis in the third round. She then fought back from being down in three straight matches to get to the final, where she knocked off fifth-seeded Rachel Arbitman 7-5, 7-6 (11-9).
In the fourth-round, Yanez lost the first set but then won 12 of the final 15 games to advance. In the quarterfinals, Yanez was down 4-1 in both sets but won 7-6, 7-5. Then, in the semifinals, she found herself down 6-2, 3-1 before turning the match around and winning 2-6, 6-3, 6-3.
“I calmed myself down and tried to think about what I needed to do. And I did it,” Yanez explained.
Maybe more to the point, Yanez was prepared to take care of business because of the way she trains, relying on a combination of strength, stamina, balance and footwork.
“I think Nikki may be a better gymnast than she is a tennis player,” says her father, Paul Yanez, who coaches his daughter and maps out her training and nutrition.
Team Yanez takes the road less traveled when it comes to training. In fact, they are so far off the beaten path that they are blazing a new trail.
Not only have they eschewed the tennis academy path — they currently practice on a couple well-worn hard courts near Twin Lakes Park in Sarasota — but they call upon past success in gymnastics to build for the future.
It is that gymnastics background that has served as the foundation for her tennis success. Focus, balance, footwork and core strength are the building blocks. Instead of hours on the tennis court hitting shot after shot, Yanez turns to power gymnastic exercises, using equipment in the family garage to tone her body and mind.
“We have to take a different approach because we don’t have coaches out there on the court for five hours,” Paul Yanez says. “We have to come at it from a different angle.”
That includes Nikki eating eight meals a day in an effort to build size and strength.
Standing 5-feet-4 and weighing 117 pounds, Yanez hardly looks like an 11-year-old. And she doesn’t think like most pre-teens when she speaks about her goals.
“My goal every day is to be bigger, stronger, faster, to become a better athlete,” she says. “To achieve that, I have to have a well-balanced diet that provides me the energy to succeed.
“With my next big tournament (Eddie Herr) in December, I am going to try and gain as much size and muscle as possible. Then, two weeks before the tournament, trim down to my best size for competition. My goal is to gain five pounds of muscle before the end of the year.”
The goal when she started playing tennis was much more simplistic. Yanez liked the trophies.
When her brothers began playing tennis and started to bring home trophies, Nikki wanted to do the same. Gymnastic events were held a few times a year but tennis tournaments can be found almost weekly.
“I love the sport so much,” Nikki says about taking up tennis. “It was fun and I liked playing. And I get trophies.”
She is up to 32 tennis trophies now and dad, looking to the future, didn’t mind the move from the gymnastics mat to the tennis court.
“I saw exactly what happened, she was going to outgrow gymnastics,” said Paul Yanez, pointing out that her maternal grandfather stood 6-foot-5. “She was going to be too big. When she saw me working with her older brothers, she wanted to be a part of that.”
Today tennis is truly a family endeavor, much the same path Monica Seles took when her father (Karolj) and brother (Zoltan) bore the responsibility of her training. At the national tournament, Nikki’s father handled coaching duties and big brother, Anthony, 17, served as hitting coach.
During the time on the practice court, Anthony and Vincent, 13, who has made the finals of the last five tournaments he has played, work out together.
“The whole family is involved,” Nikki says. “That’s what makes tennis so fun.”
Chances are the team will grow in the future. In two weeks Yanez will head to the USTA National Training Center in Boca Raton to take part in a two-day camp for elite players.
Realizing his daughter has arrived at a critical point in her development, Paul Yanez plans to ask a lot of questions.
“We have never been there, so we don’t know what to expect,” he says.
What he does know is that the gymnastics training and time on the trampoline, a 3-1 ratio versus time on the court, has worked so far. Spending time on a 4-inch beam can do a lot for balance and focus.
“It will save you because you will see when you are off-kilter,” he says. “She is learning tennis more through position and footwork.”
Nikki Yanez has made huge strides is a short time using that method. And if past performance is a predictor of future success, there may be no stopping her.
Paul Yanez takes a break with his daughter, Nikki, after a practice session. COURTESY PHOTOS
Nikki shows off the flexibility she has developed through training as a gymnast.
Nikki poses with her brothers Vincent, left, and Anthony, also standout tennis players.
Read full newpaper article here: http://nikkiyanez.com/sarasotaherald-tribune_20150823.pdf
Newspaper article on Page 16A: http://www.yourobserver.com/sarasota-observer-82015
Online article: http://www.yourobserver.com/article/local-girls-wins-usta-national-championship
By Staff Report , Herald-Tribune
/ Tuesday, August 11, 2015
Nikki Yanez captured the most prestigious title of her young tennis career this past weekend when the 11-year old Sarasota resident captured the USTA Girl’s 12 Nationals title in Alpharetta, Ga.
Yanez, who is home schooled, knocked off the top-seeded player in the draw on her way to the final and beat fifth-seeded Rachel Arbitman of Hewlett, N.Y., 7-5, 7-6 in the championship match. She also survived a pair of tough three-set matches on her way to the title.
Bradenton resident Whitney Osuigwe reached the championship match in the girl’s 16-under division in San Diego before falling to Abilgail Desisatnikov of Sandy Springs, Ga., 6-1, 7-6 (2).
Read article online here: http://preps.heraldtribune.com/2015/08/11/sarasotas-yanez-wins-national-title/
Florida junior tennis players won two singles and three doubles championships last weekend as the annual USTA National Hard Court Championships were held across the country in age groups 18-12.
The U.S.’s top juniors competed in eight USTA National Hard Court Championships, with US Open main draw wild cards awarded to the boys’ and girls’ 18s singles and doubles champions, and the singles runners-up in the boys’ and girls’ 18s divisions receiving wild card entries into the US Open Qualifying Tournament.
The boys’ and girls’ 16s champions earned wild card entries into the US Open Junior Championships. Four Florida players also finished runner-up in national championship singles finals, and one in doubles.
Sixteen-year-old Sofia Kenin of Pembroke Pines, Fla., won the USTA Girls’ 18s National Championship, defeating Boca Raton 17-year-old Tornado Alicia Black 6-2, 5-7, 7-5 in the all-Florida final.
Kenin, ranked No. 9 in the world among players ages 18 and under, will be making her Grand Slam main draw debut at the 2015 US Open.
“I do always drop shots, but this time, I thought they’d be more effective because she hates them,” said Kenin of Black, who after the final complimented Kenin as a “crafty player,” speaking to the San Diego Union Tribune.
Black finished as the Girls’ 18s singles runner-up for the second straight year, and will also receive a wild card into the US Open women’s doubles main draw after winning the Girls’ 18s doubles title, with partner Ingrid Neel (Rochester, Minn.) defeating No. 2 seeds Jessie Aney (Rochester, Minn.) and Ena Shibahara (Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.) 6-3, 6-3.
Girls’ 12s USTA Nationals winner Nikki Yanez of Sarasota
Nikki Yanez of Sarasota was also a national champion, capturing the USTA Girls’ 12s National Championship title, held in Alpharetta, Ga. The No. 17 seed, in the final Yanez defeated unseeded Rachel Arbitman of Hewlett, N.Y., 7-5, 7-6.
“In the round of 16 I was down a set and a break, then came back to win 12 of the next 14 games for the win,” Yanez said of a tournament that was filled with comebacks as she upended the No. 5, 4 and 1 seeds. “In the semifinals I was down 3-1 in the third set and then won five games in a row to win the match. In the finals I was down 5-1 in the first set then won six games in a row to win the set. Being 11 years old, this was only my second nationals tournament, but I made a few adjustments from the clay nationals last month and it paid off.”
See article online: https://www.ustaflorida.com/florida-jrs-win-5-tennis-titles-usta-national-hard-courts/
Sarasota, Fla., resident Nikki Yanez may have claimed her first gold ball and USTA National Championship this past week at the USTA Girl’s 12 Nationals in Alpharetta, Ga., but she was quick to point out that this event, and everything she does is a “family effort.”
“My brother, mother and father and really my whole family,” offered up the rising sixth grader. “They are the reason.”
Coached by her father, Paul, and using her older brother as a hitting partner throughout the week, Yanez said it helped “groove” her strokes and build her confidence.
“I was confident and played my game [throughout the week]. I wanted to, and worked hard to improve my result from the [USTA National Clay Court Championship].”
She did just that in winning the title 7-5, 7-6 at the Windward Lake Club over No. 5 seed Rachel Arbitman of Hewlett, N.Y. Arbitman was coming into the singles final on quite a roll. She hadn’t dropped a set in singles play the entire week, and on Friday, she and partner Kenadee Semenik of Las Vegas took the doubles crown.
“I was surprised,” said Arbitman. “Especially in my quarterfinal match (where she defeated No. 2 seed Semenik 6-1 6-1), I always expect a hard match, but always think I have a chance to win.”
Yanez’s strategy was to change up the pace and throw in lobs when necessary to frustrate Arbitman, an aggressive baseliner.
“Those high lobs – I should’ve come forward instead of staying all the way back,” reflected the New York native after the match. “On my serve, I could hit with more power and moved forward. On my backhand, when I’m pulled out wide, I [need] to hit with more power.”
With daytime temperatures averaging in the low to mid 90s all week in the Atlanta area, Yanez said that training year round in the heat of Florida made a difference.
“[The weather] was fine. I’m used to it being in Florida.”
A rising seventh grader, Arbitman said the heat may have played a factor against Yanez.
“All week, I kind of had to adjust to the hot weather. Being from New York, we don’t play all that much outside.”
Girl’s 12 Tournament Director Turhan Berne said the play all week was stellar.
“Every match was good quality – especially the finals,” stated Berne, who is in his first year of running this prestigious event. “It’s great seeing the different styles of play, and how a girl who may be an aggressive baseliner mixes it and throws lobs up in air.”
In addition to watching over the matches with Head Referee, Cheryl Helton, Berne is responsible for making sure the girls also have fun off the court.
If you ask the American WTA touring pros today about their favorite junior tournament or most vivid junior tennis memory, many will say it was the Girl’s 12 National Championship. For most players, this event is their introduction to big-time tennis, and the experiences, friendships and memories made at this tournament resonate with the girls for years.
“We had a pizza party the opening night and a pool party on Tuesday night,” said Berne. “Next year, we are going to have a bigger trophy presentation. I’m going to add one more official and have Georgia peaches and ice cream available (on site).”
The Windward Lake Club boasts a water park adjacent to the tennis courts, and the players took advantage of the proximity of the pools to cool off and take a break from tennis.
“I liked winning, but I also loved the water park and how I could go there and relax,” admitted Arbitman.
Yanez, who looks up to Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal also manages her own website with the help of her brother. NikkiYanez.com contains the national champion’s blog, her schedule and photo galleries. Learning website development from her brother, it should be only a matter of days before pictures and her result from Alpharetta hits her blog and website.
As with anything else Yanez does, she makes sure everyone knows, that it’s a “family effort.”
Read article here: http://www.tennisrecruiting.net/article.asp?id=2262
Sarasota sixth-grader wins 18s title
Eleven-year old Nikki Yanez captured her first United States Tennis Association Girls18 singles title at the Temple Terrace Junior Summer Bash Level 7 tournament June 27 through June 29.
Yanez defeated Alexis Marshall, who was the top-ranked player in the tournament, 6-2, 6-1 in the quarterfinals. She then went on to defeat Lenah Monosky 6-1,6-1 in the semifinals before topping Alara Hollyfield 6-1, 6-1 in the finals.
With the win, Yanez became the No.1 ranked player in Florida for the Class of 2022 and the No. 2 ranked player in the nation for her age group.
Following her win, Yanez competed in the Summer Hummer Level 6 tournament July 4 through July 6, in Orlando, where she advanced to the round of 16 in the Girls 18 singles division.
Click to view on page 15A…
The April 2015 issue of TOTALLY TENNIS MAGAZINE just came out and I am in the Major State and National Wins section.
I am still wanting to be on that cover!!!! LOL
Click to view on Page 8…
I am very excited to be on the Cover of the March Issue of TWIN LAKES LIFE AND BEYOND Magazine. This is my first cover ever and I could not be any happier.
In the magazine there is also a really cool article which I am featured as the Young Achiever.
Thank you so much to Patty Moffitt for the absolutely beautiful cover and article.
To see my cover and interview go to pages 22 – 23: http://legacy.n2pub.com/
In the February Issue of America’s #1 Local Tennis Magazine, TOTALLY TENNIS, I am so happy to be included alongside other top Florida Junior players.
You can read the article written by Bob Benkaim below and it is also found on Page 8 of TOTALLY TENNIS:
Get to Know Our Top Local Juniors: This Issue…Top Ranked Local Girls 12s
Nikki Yanez’s (right) training is unique in that she spends 4 times the amount of time training away from the tennis court and trains 20 hours in gymnastics, 5 hours in soccer and 5 hours in swimming a week. Nikki does her tennis training with Denys Maasdorp and Andrew Burrow at the Sarasota Racquet Club. Nikki’s recent tournament accomplishments include: winning two Florida G12s Designated (L5) tournaments, winning two G16s local tournaments, and a 3rd place finish at the recent December Florida Sectional in Daytona in G14s.
by: Observer Staff
+ Yanez wins USTA Florida Winter Championships
Eleven-year-old Nikki Yanez competed in the Level 3 USTA Florida Winter Championships the weekend of Jan. 17 and won five matches, winning 60 sets and dropping just seven games.
Yanez is the No. 2 tennis player in the state in her age group and the No. 4 tennis player in the country in her age group.
The Level 3 tournament happens twice a year and is the highest level for all USTA events.
Yanez has been playing tennis for two years and trains at the Sarasota Racquet Club.
In its Premier issue of the new magazine Fit941, I am featured in the ATHLETE PROFILE section on Page 10. It is very exciting for me to be chosen by Steve Lusko, the publisher of this magazine, that is a resource for anything and everything related to fitness/health/nutrition/wellness/sports/active lifestyle in the Sarasota 941 area.
by: Observer Staff
+ Eleven-year-old wins designated championship
Eleven-year-old Nikki Yanez won the USTA Florida Level 5 Jaimes Tennis Girls 12s championship Nov. 22 through Nov. 24, in Pembroke Pines.
Yanez, who entered the tournament as the No. 2 seed, went 44-10 in her five matches. Yanez defeated No. 3 seed Ariel Johnson 6-2, 6-0 in the finals to win the singles championship.
With the win, Yanez captured her second Level 5 tournament championship in four months. She also won the North Florida Level 5 tournament in July, in Tallahassee.
Yanez returned to the court Nov. 26 in the Eddie Herr International Championships, at IMG Academy.
Yanez won her opening-round qualifier 6-3, 7-6(8) before falling 6-4, 6-4 in the second round.
Nikki experienced her first interview at the Sarasota Racquet Club (formerly Serendipity) on July 31st, with The Observer, a Florida based newspaper. Altogether, the company’s newspapers and websites reach more than 200,000 readers a week.
Nikki posed for some pictures and volleyed back and forth with her brother Vincent on the court. She was asked several questions by the Sports Editor, Jen Blanco, answered them in a professional manner, while everyone at the club gathered around to watch. It was very exciting and fun for her.
Here is the article that was written up and appeared in The Observer Newspaper and Website on August 7, 2014:
BACK TO BACK CHAMP
by: Jen Blanco | Sports Editor
SARASOTA — Ten-year-old Nikki Yanez stands poised behind the net.
With a firm grip on her tennis racket, the home-schooled fifth-grader sizes up her competition, in this case her 12-year-old brother, Vincent, and awaits the serve. The ball sails through the air, and she quickly sends the ball back over the net in a flourish.
The two rally back and forth before Yanez sends a strategically placed shot into the far corner of the court past her brother’s outstretched arm. Yanez continues practicing with her brother for another 20 minutes or so, before calling it a day.
It’s a rare occurrence for Yanez to spend time practicing on an actual tennis court. Instead, the former gymnast has taken a different approach. Rather than spending four to five hours on the tennis court, Yanez only practices three days a week — the vast majority of which are spent stretching, conditioning and doing gymnastics elements in her family home. Occasionally Yanez will go to the park and hit for a while, but the majority of her time is spent off the court.
“It helps me with my balance,” Yanez says of practicing other sports rather than being on the tennis court. “It helps me a lot. Everything in tennis relates to gymnastics whether it’s balance, speed or coordination.”
Yanez’s unique training approach paid off last month when she captured back-to-back championships. Yanez won the Girls 11 Little Mo Sectional July 12 and July 13, in Sarasota, finishing 48-1 in four matches. It was Yanez’s first major tournament championship.
“I thought I played really well,” Yanez says. “I just like competing, playing with new people every week and winning.”
Yanez returned to the court July 19 through July 21 and won the USTA Florida Level 5 North Florida tournament, in Tallahassee. Yanez won all five of her matches without dropping a set against the top Girls 12 players in the state.
“That was the biggest tournament that I’ve played in,” Yanez says. “It was tough because the people I played were great. My goal is to win (the) Eddie Herr (International Junior Championships), and this win puts me in the right direction.”
A two-time AAU Gymnastics Florida state champion and one-time Southeast regional champion, Yanez began playing tennis two years ago after watching her older brother play. She played her first tennis tournament that same year at IMG Academy. Yanez lost her opening match, but through the experience she learned the value of sportsmanship.
Since then, she’s won all eight of her local tournaments, as well as the two major tournaments last month. She’s currently ranked third in the state and 12th in the nation for the Class of 2022.
Yanez, who competes about once a month, will return to the court in a Level 4 Girls 12s tournament at the end of August, in Delray Beach.
“It’s going to be a step up in competition,” Yanez says. “I just try to think of it as any other tournament. I’m just confident.”
BY THE NUMBERS: