It was junior team tennis at its best in Cayce, South Carolina this past week as the city played host to one of the most anticipated events each year on the USTA calendar. The USTA Jr. Team Tennis National Championships.
Two USTA Southern teams made it to the made the top-4 last week. The Atlanta, Ga. U18 team from the USTA Southern Section, finished second in the Advanced National Championships, and another team from Buford, Ga. did well in the Intermediate division, finishing fourth.
It was a great week for all involved. The Atlanta U18 team, lost a heartbreaker to the team from Stamford, Conn. 41-42 going to a tiebreaker in the Championship match. In the previous round, the Atlanta squad defeated the defending champions from Austin, Texas, 48-47 in another close match.
This event was big for tennis and socially for these players.
“This weekend, we hosted the second of two very successful Jr. Team Tennis tournaments at Cayce Tennis & Fitness Center, crowning two brand-new national champions in the 18U Intermediate and Advanced divisions,” said Adrienne Di Menna, USTA Jr. Team Tennis National Manager. “Yet the biggest win was seeing how the teams interacted with one another and established friendships. It’s awesome to see players from different sections staying in touch long after they’ve left South Carolina. I think they all realize that we’re part of one big national team, trying to grow the sport of tennis.”
The USTA Southern Team was coached by Sam Kennedy and the players included Sam Kennedy Jr., Justin Byrd, Summer Walker, Kelli McKinney, Monica Thomas, Jason Byrd and Zachary Kennedy.
The Buford, Ga team lost to a team from Ponce, P.R., 39-40 in the Third Place match. They were beaten by rivals from Atlanta, Ga., 39-56 in the semifinals.
The Intermediate squad was coached by Ben and Jane Hunter and included players Colby West, Robert Hunter, Kelsey McCray, AnnaLea Stevens, MariaJose Ferreyos and Nicholas Becker.
The USTA has been putting more emphasis on these Junior Team Tennis Championships as a way to grow the sport. Judging from all the close matches and the competitive spirit and sportsmanship shown by the players and coaches, it's been a big success.