by Sarah Houseknecht, Special to USTA.com
Cayce, S.C. -- While most teams at JTT Nationals have coaching staffs at least a decade their senior, Florida Section’s Intermediate team – Kick Aces from Satellite Beach, Fla. took a different approach. They looked to former teammate Danielle Slaughter as their leader.
"I still wanted to be a part of JTT even though I was too old to play," said the 19-year-old coach. "Everyone suggested I be the coach and I’m glad I did. For most of our team, this is their last year of eligibility."
The 2012 Nationals are serving as a reunion of sorts for Kick Aces. Several of the teammates started college this fall and this is the first time they have seen each other since Florida Sectionals at the end of July.
"JTT is so fun to play and coach because I think it is more competitive than high school because of the team aspect," said Slaughter. "The guys and girls really work together. In high school they’re almost totally separate."
Slaughter, a six-season JTT veteran, played high school tennis with the majority of the Kick Aces players she now coaches, including her younger sister Dena Slaughter.
"We played varsity together for two years and were doubles partners at Satellite High for Danielle’s senior season," said Dena Slaughter. "It’s different because she’s my sister and former teammate. I think, as a coach, she is more straightforward with me. She gives all of us tips on how we can improve during matches."
Dena, who has been playing tennis since she was four, is graduating this year and hopes to attend University of Central Florida next fall. She plans to play for the school’s Tennis On Campus program. Danielle now plays in the Space Coast Women’s Tennis League with her mom. The whole Slaughter family agrees, in their house, tennis is the sport of a lifetime!