by Sarah Houseknecht, Special to USTA.com
Cayce, S.C. -- For Kaitlyn McCarthy, 14 of Cary, N.C., making the 2012 Junior Team Tennis 18 and Under National Championships with her teammates on the Academy Select team was just one of two amazing tennis accomplishments this week.
McCarthy made it through the qualifying round at the Florence Open a USTA Pro Circuit Event Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012 to compete in the main draw with the likes of Taylor Townsend (World No. 1 junior) and Jacqueline Cako. She lost to Angelina Gabueva of Russia (6-4, 6-3) in the first round of the main draw.
McCarthy, currently ranked sixth nationally in the Girls' 16s, started playing competitive tennis tournaments at 9-years-old under Coach Jake Lester at Cary Tennis Park. Florence Open was her third Pro Circuit appearance – her first time making it out of the qualifying round.
This year, the rising star decided to add some extra fun to the game she loves by joining her local JTT team, representing the USTA Southern Section. McCarthy said she would encourage other competitive players to take a chance on JTT as well.
"If you get a group of friends playing together like we (Academy Select) have, it can be so much fun," said McCarthy, of the team atmosphere at JTT Nationals in Cayce, S.C. "It’s an easy way to keep some fun in the game. Tennis is such an individual sport, but when you play JTT you have a whole team of people supporting and cheering for you."
McCarthy said she loves that mixed doubles is included in the JTT format. With the help of her mixed doubles partner, Justin Warren, they are undefeated on the weekend; topping Missouri Valley (6-1, 6-1) and Northern (6-2, 6-4). In addition to her mixed doubles wins, she topped Missouri Valley in doubles with partner Melinda Kauffman and dominated Lacey Sprinkel of Northern (6-1, 6-0) in singles.
"We definitely encourage competitive players to join Jr. Team Tennis, as well as recreational players," said Adrienne Di Menna, USTA Jr. Team Tennis National Manager. "JTT presents an opportunity for all kids to play as part of a team; something you don’t get at a competitive tournament. Playing on a team also prepares competitive players for the college format."