Video provided by: Matt Fults/Rival Films
USTA Southern California and USTA Southern won the Advanced and Intermediate division crowns, respectively, in the 14 & Under events during the first weekend of the 2013 USTA Jr. Team Tennis National Championships.
By Nicholas J. Walz, USTA.com & Sarah Houseknecht, special to USTA.com
On a day where the sun finally came out in South Carolina, two teams shined above 30 other competitors at the 2013 USTA Jr. Team Tennis 14 & Under National Championships.
In its first trip ever to Nationals, “Team Top Gun” from San Diego, Calif., representing the USTA Southern California section, earned the 14U Advanced division title, beating USTA New England, 50 games to 37, in Sunday’s final.
“There’ll be a huge party when we get back home that’s going to be off the hook,” said coach Solomon Liu. “It was a fantastic experience. There are no guarantees going forward, so to do this in the first year is special. Some of our kids are aging out [in the 14 & Under division], but we’ll try to come back in a few years and win it all in the 18s.”
Later in the afternoon at the Cayce Tennis & Fitness Center in Cayce, S.C., it was USTA Southern rallying to defeat the Intermediate team from Southern California, 56-44, to claim the 14U Intermediate title.
The crew from Wilmington, N.C., rebounded from a tough loss in the 2012 sectional final to win this year in its home section.
“This is huge for them, this has been a goal that they’ve had for over a year now, talking about it every week at practice,” said Southern coach Lauren Isenhour. “Our team has worked so hard for this moment right here, so we’re really proud of them.”
For more than a decade, the USTA Jr. Team Tennis 14U National Championships has brought together the top teams from the 17 USTA sections for a weekend of fun. With 13,000 teams and nearly 100,000 kids playing under the Jr. Team Tennis banner in the United States, it’s also a chance for kids from different regions of the country to see how tennis is taught and played in other places.
It's also an opportunity to make friends.
“This week featured a fun group of really enthusiastic kids,” said Adrienne Di Menna, USTA Jr. Team Tennis National Manager. “We crowned two brand-new national champions, yet the biggest win was seeing how the teams interacted with one another and established friendships. With technology and social media being what it is today, we think it’s awesome that we have players from different sections staying in touch long after they’ve left South Carolina. I think they all realize that we’re part of one big national team, trying to grow this sport.”
The Jr. Team Tennis 18 & Under National Championships start in Cayce on Oct. 24, wrapping up on Oct. 27.
USTA Jr. Team Tennis brings kids together in teams to play singles, doubles and mixed doubles against other teams. It promotes social skills and important values by fostering a spirit of cooperation and unity, as well as individual self-growth. Also, it’s a fun environment for kids in which they learn that succeeding is really more about how they play the game – win or lose.