New England’s captain is a guiding light on and off the tennis court

New England team captain Juliana Harris.
Juliana Harris high-fiving.

By Jenna Higueras, USTA.com

Indian Wells, Calif.- When Juliana Harris’co-captain was unable to make the trip to California for the USTA League 2.5 Adult National Championships, she did not hesitate in stepping up and leading her team.

You see, Harris has over 15 years experience raising dogs for Guiding Eyes for the Blind. The nonprofit is based in Yorktown Heights, NY and is dedicated to providing visually impaired men and women with guide dogs. Harris has not only trained a numerous amount of dogs herself, but her current dog, Merwin, has fathered over 230 puppies, 31 of which have continued on to be certified guide dogs.

Harris began playing tennis 3 years ago and continued on to Milford Indoor Tennis in Milford, CT. She was selected to be a member and a captain of their 2.5 women’s team by the club’s Director of Tennis Isidro Martinez and Head Pro Angelo Rossetti.

“Juliana is very passionate about everything. She is passionate about guide dogs, and she is passionate about her team. She has guided both of them,” says Sandra, Harris’ sister, who made the trek from New Jersey to watch her sister play. “Right from the beginning, at their first meeting, she said, “We are going to Indian Wells, Calif.’ for the National Championships.’”

Harris and her team’s hard work paid off, and in only their second year as a team, the women blew through the District and Sectional Championships with a perfecto 12-0 record to make it to this year’s USTA League 2.5 Adult National Championships.

Stephanie, Harris’ other sister, who drove down from Northern California, believes that her sister’s proven skill in raising guide dogs was a perfect transition into leading her team. “To actually raise a guide dog so that it can go off and work, that is special. It takes discipline to do it right so that the dog can go on and help someone,” she says. “With tennis as well, it is necessary to be goal oriented and supportive. Juliana has guided this team to Nationals just as she guides her dogs.”

Rossetti, the team’s coach, is no stranger to focus and dedication. In August of 2008, he and his twin brother Ettoré set the official Guinness World Record for the longest tennis rally that lasted over 14 hours and 31 minutes. Mental toughness is something he tries to instill in his team, and he feels Harris truly embodies the strength. “Juliana really stepped up, grabbed the bull by the horns and took charge,” he says. “The team wouldn’t have gotten where we are without her. She is truly inspirational.”

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