By Katie Timinsky, special to USTA.com
SURPRISE, Ariz. - One of the many highlights of the Jr. Team Tennis National Championships are the creative and colorful banners you see hanging on the fences which section off Courts 7, 8 and 9 at the Surprise Tennis & Racquet Complex. These team banners, which have become a staple of the tournament, are designed by the kids to help showcase their personalities both on and off the court and add a burst of color and fun amongst Arizona’s otherwise sandy, tepid tones. With just one quick glance, it’s easy to see how much time and effort went into creating these artistic representations of the 32 teams we have at this year’s Championships.
"G-Power," the Advanced team from Florida, wanted to "represent the highlights of ‘The Sunshine State’" in their banner.
"We included the space shuttle and a gator playing tennis," stated G-Power coach, So-Mei Louie. "Most importantly we included Disney World because that place represents where dreams come true and going to Nationals this year is our dream come true."
The "Weddington Racquets" Intermediate team, representing USTA Southern, couldn’t take more pride in their banner. "We have the best banner out there," said Woody Watson. "It is really colorful and represents not just North Carolina, but the South as well."
Creativity was an underlying theme for the Hawaii Pacific Intermediate team from Honolulu. With their banner covered in leis, it’s easy to match the sun-tanned "K2TENS" players with their Hawaii-inspired poster.
"All of the items on our banner represent a positive theme along with humor, enthusiasm and just having fun playing tennis," said Pacific Northwest Intermediate coach, Joan Bear. "It was also really important to the kids to highlight the great state of Washington."
Showing their pride for New York and the Eastern Section they represent, the Advanced NYJTL team incorporated an image of the Twin Towers with the words: "Never Forgotten."
Kasey Yamashita, a member of the Intermediate "Baseliners" from the Mid-Atlantic section, spent several hours designing her team’s banner. "We wanted to represent the state of Maryland so we made sure to include a Baltimore oriole and a Maryland flag," Yamashita said.
"One of my favorite things on the flag is the flaming tennis balls," added Alison Dane, who also plays for the Baseliners. "Those tennis balls represent the heat that we bring on the court."