Catanzarite takes second at international tennis junior circuit event
Franklin Park junior tennis player Ava Catanzarite has headed south to train and it is paying off.
Catanzarite, 16, reached the girls 16 doubles final of the Orange Bowl International championships recently in Plantation, Fla. She and a partner from South Carolina, who were unseeded, won the first set before dropping the match.
There were 32 teams.
It was only her second tournament on the International Tennis Federation Junior Circuit and her first Grade A event. Past winners include Andy Roddick, Roger Federer, Jim Courier, Mary Joe Fernandez and Gabriela Sabatini.
“The Orange Bowl has a lot of prestige, with the feeling of a professional tournament,” Catanzarite said. “It was interesting to meet many (international players) and watch their different game styles.
“There was a wide range of prominent spectators. The fanfare was exciting.”
Catanzarite, a sophomore who came in second in the 2017 WPIAL Class AAA girls singles championship tournament with North Allegheny, was invited in October to attend the Gomez Tennis Academy in Naples, Fla. She is taking academic courses online.
“Ava is working hard,” said Rene Gomez, the academy’s head pro and tennis director. “Her determination and training (are) showing for the short amount of time she has been (with us).
“Ava understands her process to become a high-level player.”
Earlier, Catanzarite earned a Bronze Ball with a partner from Ohio in girls 16 doubles at the U.S. Tennis Association National Indoor Championships in Minneapolis.
Over the summer, she earned a Silver Ball in doubles and advanced to the quarterfinals in singles in the USTA Girls’ 16 National Clay Court Championships in Memphis.
She was second on the USTA Middle States Girls’ 18’s standings list as of Dec. 6. She ended 2017 ranked first in the section in Girls’ 16’s.
She will cap the year at the USTA Winter National Championships in Orlando, Fla.
“I won’t have the chance to be home for the holidays with my family,” said Catanzarite, whose father played football for Westminster and whose mother was part of the Pitt Golden Girls baton and dance line. “It’s all sacrifice, but I love what I do.
“I look forward to see what 2019 has in store for me.”
Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.