Islamorada tennis team headed to state championship - A group of people standing in front of a crowd - Team
The Tiki Tennis team concludes practice by giving their coach a gift that turned out to be a blue Tiki Tennis sweatshirt. Pictured are Captain Susan Latham, Coach Susie Jannach, Co-Captain Karla Gable, Cindy Atkison, Debbie Lucas and Aimee Volland. JIM McCARTHY/Keys Weekly

Islamorada’s Tiki Tennis team was greeted during the morning of Jan. 28 with winds and temperatures in the mid-50s. But that didn’t stop the women tennis players from heating up the courts.

The tennis team has had quite the successful season, having won matches against their Monroe County rivals, including Ocean Reef, Marathon and Key West. Coached by Susie Jannach and Ed Bernard, nine players are preparing to head to Lake Nona in Orlando on Feb. 2 for Tri-Level Championships. The women tennis players will compete against 12 other teams.

“We’re very excited,” she said. “I’ve experienced it myself on the individual level with a team when I played in college, and I also went all the way to a national championship. To turn back around and coach a team toward states, it’s really exciting, especially down here because the women are so fun and friendly.”

Players spent Monday morning braving the cold as they went through volleying and return drills. They finished practice with a little “queen of the court” before calling it a day.

Jannach says getting the women to be competitive at the outset was a challenge. The team’s been together since fall 2017, and now, Jannach said, they’re “little tiger sharks.” The team was able to beat everybody wherever they went last season, and she said there were many close matches.

“They thrive on the excitement of it all, but yet we can still be friends and be a team,” she said. “It’s a physical game. It’s a mental and technical game. There’s an awful lot of strategy. To learn that late in life really is a tribute to the women because they’re learning a new skill. Many didn’t grow up playing.”

Those heading to competition are Susan Latham, captain, Karla Gables, co-captain, Suzy Fryman, Alicia Kubida, Elizabeth Stancyk, Diana Bernard, Aimee Volland, Barbara Bernstein and Cindy Atkinson.

“We’re going to give it our all,” she said.

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