For kids, parents and coaches, the 2011 USTA Jr. Team Tennis 14 & Under National Championships represents a once-in-a-lifetime sports experience.
© Jen Pottheiser
By Katie Timinsky, special to USTA.com
SURPRISE, Ariz. - At the 2011 Jr. Team Tennis 14 & Under National Championships, participants and spectators alike enjoyed more than simply the intense tennis competition - after matches and in the hotels, there has been a camaraderie formed where rival sections are sharing their positive experiences and fondest memories during their time in Surprise.
Members of the Texas Tornadoes, who represent the Texas Advanced section, couldn’t say enough about their time competing in Surprise. "We enjoy meeting new teams and making new friends," said Parker Wynn. "There was one team in particular who even gave us tips about the teams we would be playing against."
"We can’t wait to come back next year," added fellow Tornado, Eric Morris.
"The quality of play is the most impressive thing I’ve seen," said Amy Barsanti, New England Advanced team parent. "What’s so great about the Jr. Team Tennis program is that it takes a sport that is usually so individualized and it creates a team environment. The kids cheer each other on and can pick each other up when they fall."
A first-timer at this year’s Championships, Ryan Luong from the Southern California Advanced section, truly enjoys the overall camaraderie.
"It’s not just getting to play that I like, it’s getting to meet new people at the same time," Luong said. "A lot of the kids I’ve played against have been the people I hang out with at the pool and at the hotel."
"This is the 3rd year in a row that we have been to the Jr. Team Tennis National Championships - and each time it gets better," said Pacific Northwest Advanced parent, Bari Limaye. "It’s such a great experience for the kids. They get to bond with one another and just have fun while doing something they love."
Middle States Advanced player, Lucy Gloninger, has thoroughly enjoyed her first Championship experience. "My favorite memory from the tournament has been the team bonding," said Gloninger. "I like that the team has to work together to succeed. You’re never alone, and that’s a good feeling."
Whether they are returning players, new teams or proud parents, every person has walked away from the 2011 Jr. Team Tennis National Championships with memories to last a lifetime.