Stefan Barre and Shawn Sophasath are taking their tennis games to Florida in December, and they’ll see plenty of time on the courts in the Sunshine State. Barre and Sophasath will compete in Tennis Manitoba’s inaugural Junior Florida Tour (December 3-16), playing five two-day tournaments at the Casely Tennis Academy near Fort Lauderdale.

“Doing a trip at this time of the year is really vital for the development of the kids,” said Tennis Manitoba’s Director of Tennis Development Jared Connell, who will be taking the team to Florida.

Players from Team Saskatchewan will join the Manitoba contingent in Florida, playing in the same events and training together. The tournaments they will compete in are part of the Casely International Championships, which comprise 15 two-day tournaments stretching from November 22-December 21. Among the top pros to have played in the Casely International Championships are Juan Martin Del Potro, Gael Monfils, Vera Zvonareva, Maria Kirilenko and Shahaar Peer.

“They’re going to get to see kids from all over the place,” Connell said of the competition Barre and Sophasath will face in Florida. “The bulk will be Americans, and of those likely a lot of them will be from Florida, but you see everybody there.”

Mark Arndt, executive director of Tennis Manitoba, would like the Junior Florida Tour to become an annual Tennis Manitoba event.

“Next year hopefully the Canada Games team goes as preparation for the Games in 2017,” said Arndt.

Also in Florida in December are the Eddie Herr International Junior Championships and the Junior Orange Bowl International Tennis Championship, which both attract over 1,500 players a year. Manitoban Reece Carter will compete in the Eddie Herr and Orange Bowl as a member of Tennis Canada’s national U12 team.