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Work and play go together at 2008 Eddie Herr junior tournament

Rick Workman is certainly living up to his last name.

The tournament director of the Eddie Herr International Junior Tennis Championships is checking his entry list, even checking it twice. Trying to find out who is playing and who is out.

With more than 1,000 entries, it is quite a task. So, there was Workman ... working away on Thanksgiving morning at the IMG Academy in Bradenton.

He was busy putting together the draws, putting out fires. He was putting the finishing touches on all the big and little things that needed to be done to be ready for this year's major junior event, which gets under way today on the nearly 60 courts at the Nick Bollett-ieri Tennis Academy.

Qualifying for the 16-under and 14-under age divisions begins today. Saturday begins the qualifying for the 18-under divisions and the main draw play for the 12-under divison. The tournament runs through Dec. 7.

The tournament was founded in 1987 by the late Eddie Herr, who is considered the "Grandfather of international junior tennis." Herr also founded the Orange Bowl Junior Championships, the Sunshine Cup and the Continental Cup.

Former winners of Eddie Herr titles include Maria Sharapova, Andy Roddick, Jelena Jankovic, Marcelo Rios, Anna Kournikova, Nicole Vaidisova, David Nalbandian, Tatiana Panova and Xavier Malisse. Roger Federer and Kim Clijsters have also played in the tournament.

The final pieces of the draw came together with the USTA giving out five wild cards and Workman announcing Alexandra Cercone as his tournament director's wild card.

Workman chose Cercone because she is from nearby Seminole, reached the final of the 16s a year ago and has made great improvement in her ranking recently.

"She had a really good tournament a year ago, getting to the final before losing in three sets," Workman said. "Her international ranking has improved from 247 to 168 in the past month."

Another wild card, Jasmine Minor in the 16-under division, is from Mundelein. That, coincidentally, is a city where Workman once lived.

One player who didn't make it to the tournament was Arantxa Rus, of the Netherlands, the No. 1 ranked junior girl in the world. Her pullout makes Laura Robson of Great Britain the tournament's top seed in the girls 18-under division.

Robson, ranked No. 6 in the world, won the Wimbledon junior title this past summer at the age of 14. She won the Eddie Herr 14-under division a year ago and took the 12-under title in 2006.

Anna Bogdan of Romania, ranked No. 7 in the world, is the No. 2 seeded player in the girls 18s.

The tournament, which has been held annually at the IMG Academy since 1993, is open to the public at no charge. Call 755-1000 for more information, or access the tournament website at eddieherr.com.

Serendipity to host

Junior Championships

Serendipity Racquet Club in Sarasota will host the United States Tennis Association Local Junior Championships Dec. 13-14.

The tournament is for junior boys and girls ranging from 18-under to 10-under age divisions, with players earning ranking points.

A year ago Serendipity was recognized for a junior tournament it held, winning the Bobby Curtis Junior Tournament of the Year award for the 2007 Super Series Classic Tournament.

Spectators who wish to watch the event are encouraged to call the Guest Hotline at (941) 685-6274 for gate entry.

Men's tournament on tap

Longwood Athletic Club in Sarasota is hosting a Men's Open Tennis Tournament, with total prize money of $3000. The tournament will be held Dec. 20-22

Those interested in entering should call (941) 351-1750 for more information. The tournament will be open to the public to view at no charge.

Longwood Athletic Club has 18 courts, 12 Har-tru clay, four hard and two red clay. It is located between University Avenue and Desoto Road.

Entry deadline near

The entry deadline for the third annual Senior Clay Court tournament to be held at the Longboat Key Tennis Center is Saturday.

The USTA-sanctioned event, scheduled to begin play Dec. 3, has divisions for men and women in singles and doubles from 55-over through 80-over age divisions.

Entry feel is $35 for singles and $20 per player for doubles.

Contact the Longboat Key Tennis Center at 316-8367 for more information.

Tickets on sale

Tickets for the 2009 Sarasota Open have gone on sale to the public. The USTA professional men's tennis event will be held May 9-16 at the Tennis Gardens at Longboat Key and Resort.

Contact (941) 809-8996 or log on to sarasotaopen.org for more information.

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