Junior Team Tennis Sky's the Limit
Photo credit: Phil Hoffmann / Navy Athletics
Meet Carlee Conway. A junior at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Carlee just completed her final season on the Academy’s Women’s Varsity Tennis Team. Carlee, who hails from the Buffalo-area, fondly looks back on her development as a young player and credits playing Junior Team Tennis (JTT) at Miller Tennis Center in Williamsville, NY, for giving her a taste of what it might be like to play college tennis.
“There are so many similarities between JTT play and college tennis,” said Carlee. “In both, you're on a team and experience that team energy and environment. And you're only as good as your teammates, so everyone gets out there to fight and root for each other. For me, JTT was a great opportunity to see what playing on a team is really like. So that was pretty cool for me.”
Junior Team Tennis (JTT) is a junior program of the USTA that provides individual technical tennis skill and strategy development in a team-centered atmosphere. Facilitated by certified Net Generation coaches and volunteers, kids play with children of similar skill level and can also enjoy opportunities to play at higher levels as their skills develop and evolve. JTT is available for boys and girls, ages 6 to 18; co-ed teams are organized by age, and give junior players a chance to engage in match play in spirited and supportive team setting.
“I remember there was a kid who’s name was Alex on my team, and I loved watching him play because he was notorious for just going out and having fun,” said Carlee. “That's something that I admired, because for me, I was always very focused when I'm on the court. I wanted to win, and that's it. Alex and JTT gave me the time to sit back and enjoy tennis.”
Another similarity between collegiate tennis and JTT is that they both permit on-court coaching during matches. Receiving feedback about your technique and strategy during a match in real-time is one of the most effective ways to develop and improve as a player.
“I think especially for players around the ages of 12 or 13, when you're really starting to develop your game, it's paramount to get that feedback during the match,” said Carlee. “You could play a whole match doing the wrong thing. In junior tournaments, you don't always find out what you're doing wrong until after, if at all.”
Carlee is grateful for the opportunity to play for the U.S. Naval Academy, where she is working toward a new aspiration: to become a pilot. She has her sights on flight training in Pensacola, Florida and eventually Corpus Christie. From there, sky's the limit. “After I graduate from the Academy, I have about two and a half years of flight school before I can earn my wings.”