Matthew Osajima is awarded a sportsmanship pin.
© Jennifer Pottheiser
by Sarah Houseknecht, Special to USTA.com
Cayce, S.C -- At Junior Team Tennis Nationals, it is all about fun. The biggest part of having a good time in sports is sportsmanship. This year the USTA has put an extra emphasis on sportsmanship at all levels. Even pros Bob and Mike Bryan and Sam Stosur were awarded the first ever "US Open Sportsmanship Award" at the 2012 US Open.
At JTT Nationals, sportsmanship awards have been given annually to the best sports, boys and girls, in each division. Additionally, all 32 coaches were each given a lapel pin this year and asked to award it to a player on an opposing team that they think exemplifies sportsmanship – a tough job with so many good sports here in Cayce, S.C.
Robert Taylor, coach of the Florida Westside Wailers, found his "good sport" in their first opponent. He offered Matthew Osajima, Southern’s Legacy Park singles player, his pin for his great attitude and spirit during their match on Friday.
"He was very complimentary to my player," said Taylor. "Whether he was telling him ‘good shot’ or even ‘nice try,’ he just had a consistently terrific attitude."
Osajima, one of 32 players to receive a coaches’ pin, proudly sported the pin on his lanyard as he explained why tennis wouldn’t be fun without sportsmanship.
"Actually, most everyone has been great about sportsmanship and line calls," said Osajima. "I think team tennis has even more sportsmanship because you are all cheering for each other."
Joan Baker, chair of the USTA Youth Growth Council which oversees JTT, 10 and Under Task Force and the Sportsmanship Committee, said it is USTA’s goal to make sportsmanship one of the main take-aways for the youth playing at Nationals.
"When these kids go home, what they should remember is the fun they had; the matches should be secondary," Baker said. "They can’t remember those fun times if they themselves were poor sports or if they played against poor sports. Sportsmanship is what sets the stage for a great tennis tournament."
The annual Junior Team Tennis National Sportsmanship Awards will be announced tomorrow at the Awards Ceremonies at Cayce Tennis and Fitness Center.