Missouri Valley / Missouri



Josh Sellmeyer  |  May 25, 2021

Tournament opportunities for competitive junior players abound this summer within USTA Missouri, as offerings are occurring in Camdenton, Columbia and Springfield. 





Mallory Weber, former Missouri State University women’s tennis head coach, is revitalizing efforts to host USTA junior tournaments in the Springfield area. Weber — who was hired as community recreation coordinator at Cooper Tennis Complex in October 2020 and also holds the position of USTA Missouri Executive Board president — will direct two junior tournaments in June.



The Cooper Complex will first play host to a Level 6 tournament taking place outdoors June 12-13. Registration for this event closes June 8, with singles flight opportunities available for both boys and girls at 12s, 14s, 16s as well as 18s.




“We’ve had a lot of parents especially who are at Cooper all the time — they’re excited to have tournaments here,” Weber said. ADVERTISEMENT “They’ve been traveling quite a bit to play in different tournaments. To have some that are local, they’re really happy about that. We’re fortunate to have it at Cooper. We have an unbelievable complex. It’s things we want to host — to give those kids an opportunity to stay home and play.”



The weekend following the L6 event, Weber will run a one-day Level 7 tournament  June 19 outdoors at the Cooper Complex. Like the L6 tournament preceding it, the L7 singles tourney is open to boys and girls and will feature draws at the 12s, 14s, 16s and 18s age groups. The deadline to sign up is June 15.


While both these junior tournaments are singles only, Weber is hopeful to add doubles to the mix for Springfield tourneys down the road.


“One of my favorite parts of my job is getting to work with the juniors and adults — to offer them opportunities to play beyond just what we offer daily at Cooper,” Weber said. “They’ve put in all this work. They’re getting better and training. Now they have an opportunity to go see how they’re doing. It’s really fun to see them able to compete at their home facility.”



To drum up interest for the forthcoming junior tournaments, Weber and the staff at Cooper have relied on word of mouth, handed out flyers to prospective players at classes and contacted local high school coaches to make them aware of the opportunity. Weber said she’s leaning on the strength of the excellent junior academy program at Cooper to form a core group of the tourney entrants.



“Right now we’ve got over 20 players in our high-performance group and over 20 in our Level 1 group, which is the group right under it,” Weber said. “We’re right in the 15-20 range in the Level 2. Those are all tournament-level players, really, in all of the age groups.”



Though there aren’t yet concrete details for future Springfield junior events the rest of the summer, Weber is hopeful to add more offerings particularly for L6 and L7 players.



Cooper Complex head tennis professional Kyle Wartick has worked in tandem with USTA Missouri junior competition coordinator Courtney Nesbitt to form a monthly Junior Team Tennis battle between the cities of Springfield and Camdenton. To read more about that, click here.





Like the city of Springfield, Camdenton has two junior tournament offerings coming up for players later this summer. Up first, the city will play host to a Level 7 tourney June 26. The registration deadline is June 22. Boys and girls are eligible to sign up for singles play for the age groups of 12s, 14s, 16s and 18s.



Another Camdenton tournament option for L7 players arrives July 18. Players must sign up to participate July 14 or earlier. The tourney will be comprised of both boys and girls at the 12s, 14s, 16s and 18s flights for singles action.



Camdenton recently hosted a successful Level 5 open tournament that was slated for May 21-23. Though rain wiped out the first day of tennis, a shortened scoring format enabled all the singles main and consolation draws to finish.  Doubles play, however, was foregone due to rain May 21 and the morning of May 22. 



More than 100 players signed up for the L5 tournament, with players traveling into Camdenton from across the country. Heidi Smith, USTA Missouri executive director,  said entrants from states like New York, Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas participated in the tourney.



Players and parents had the opportunity to pair up their tennis trip with a vacation to the nearby Lake of the Ozarks, which was a big draw. With last year’s tournament being canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2021 offering was the first-ever L5 open tourney hosted in Camdenton in USTA Missouri history.





The city of Columbia takes its turn hosting a junior tournament during an action-packed summer for USTA Missouri in the form of an L6 event. Rhonda Kaissi will run the tourney  June 5-6 at Cosmo-Bethel Park in Columbia. Registration closes June 1. Boys and girls can sign up for singles play in the age groups of 12s, 14s, 16s and 18s. 



To learn more or to sign up for these USTA Missouri junior tournaments, click here.




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