by Sarah Houseknecht, Special to USTA.com
Cayce, S.C. -- Every team at Jr. Team Tennis National Championships will tell you, it is an awesome accomplishment to make it to Nationals just once, but the RCC – Midwest team has now done it for three consecutive years.
Out of the seven-member roster, two of their players – Rachael Morales and Ashley Thai – have participated all three times; the rest are newer to the Championship atmosphere. Last year, the team finished third in the 18U Advanced Division.
"There is a standard to get there (Nationals) now," said Thai. "But every single time it’s just as exciting. We want to top what we did last year, but most of our team is new. We don’t have any expectations; we are just going to play our best."
The team, which belongs to the Racquet Club of Columbus, does not represent just one high school. In fact, these teammates consider each other "competition" during the regular school season. Several of the students have battled in high school matches.
They all agreed they like the JTT format the best, saying the dynamic of playing tennis as a team sport is like no other. The atmosphere at JTT tournaments allows cheering and camaraderie that isn’t commonplace in high school tennis.
The group has been together for years and describes their relationship as love-hate with a family dynamic. Their favorite pastime when traveling is playing Extreme Spoons – a game they may have to teach the other JTT teams at the player party tonight!
Several players will sadly be moving on from the RCC team after these National Championships. Morales will be attending Marshall University next fall and plans to play tennis. Thai and several other players are eager to play club tennis and join their school’s Tennis On Campus program next fall.
The RCC squad will face Hu’s Bakery (Pacific Northwest), Jr. NY Buzz (Eastern wild card) and Team 904 (Florida) Friday and Saturday in Flight play as the vie for placement in the playoff brackets.