Central Indiana Wins World TeamTennis Junior National Championship
The World TeamTennis Jr. National Championship trophy was awarded to a team of six Central Indiana players, some of who have been playing together as far back as they can remember.
“[They] have done teams since they were seven or eight… and we’ve had so many different things happen,” says team coach and parent, Cheryl Loy. “Covid hit— and the last time we do a team, they win a national championship.” Her daughter, Lucy Loy, now a national champion sits beside her adding, “It was a good way to finish.”
According to Lucy, winning’s more fun when you’re on a team. “Because we’ve grown up playing together. A lot of us are graduating. So to finish on this note is really fun. I was sitting with Emma on the bench our last match. We were both just sitting there— We weren’t crying, but we realized this is the last time we’re all going to play together. I loved finishing our TeamTennis that way… We’re all friends, but it’s not like we hang out all the time. So it was the last time,” Lucy stops herself, deciding right then and there that this group of friends will stay connected for years beyond TeamTennis. “We will hang out!”
Also sitting down for the interview is Wendy McNamar, parent of team member Jones McNamar, “Can I just say— It was sort of surreal. If you back up… Last spring, their junior year tennis season was canceled. No girls tennis whatsoever, and then going into the fall for our boys season… the day before that season started, we didn’t even know if there was going to be boys high school tennis.”
During the pandemic, rules and safety regulations changed by the day, in some cases, by the hour. The Indiana High School Athletic Association was no exception.
Wendy says it’s the reason why Carmel High School moved Senior Night to the first home match instead of their last. “Every match we thought, this could all get shut down any day.” Boys team tennis was allowed to continue for the 20-21 school year, and the two boys on Carmel’s team, Jones and Eli Mercer (also on Central Indiana’s WTT Jr. team), won state.
Central Indiana’s Emma Brune and Leila Antony both had successful high school seasons as well, and Lucy Loy made it as a semi-finalist in the Girls Individual, making her a top four singles player in the state of Indiana. To have such a successful high school senior experience is widely unheard of during the Covid-19 health crisis.
These same young adults went on to become World TeamTennis Junior National Champions, representing the Midwest Section. Central Indiana’s team of six players competed and won Nationals at Lake Nona, Florida on the USTA National Campus, where the event was scored via matches as opposed to games. Central Indiana won 5-0, winning all five matches they played. The score of their final match was 35 games to 24 games, the closest match they played and against California.
The way Nationals worked, there were 16 teams from all over the U.S., and each one competed in a flight of four. Central Indiana came out with a 3-0 record, winning each of their flights before moving onto the semi-finals against a team from New York.
“We came together and had a lot of energy for that match,” remembers Lucy.
As the winners of the semi-finals, they moved onto the final championship, competing against California, and won. They also competed in a team-building competition and won that too, scoring some Wilson backpacks.
With a proud win behind them, four of the six players now head to college. Lucy feels excited for her future in D1 Athletics with The University of Nebraska, even after a quick change in assistant coaching was announced. “[Nebraska] will be far away, but all the girls seem really nice. I’ve texted with them a little bit. I think it’s going to be fun to be on a team again and start something new.”
The interview showed how close the players became not only with their teammates but with the team's parents. According to Cheryl, “We’ve all watched the kids grow up together.” As Cheryl thinks back, Wendy acknowledges how proud she is of Central Indiana’s players, speaking highly of each member— as if they were her own family. “All three nights we did dinner together. From the moment we got up, we were meeting in the lobby at 6:15 for breakfast and usually got back around 10 at night.”
Wendy notes how challenging tournaments can be for Midwest players. “Court time… we’re at a detriment. Playing outside and playing inside, are very different. This was an outdoor tournament. Some of the kids [competing] were used to that more than we are. There was extreme heat, extreme humidity.” Wendy says, Central Indiana's kids adapted and proved their skill on the courts. “We might have shocked [some teams] a little bit.”
Wendy’s son, Jones, will play at a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) school next year — Marian University. And Emma and Leila plan to play club tennis at their respective schools. “I know Cheryl and I would be really sad if we thought [Nationals] was the last competitive match our kids were gonna play,” admits Wendy. “But all of these kids are planning on playing.”
Some college representatives made the trip to Florida for Nationals to speak with the players and share information about college programming. The USTA also had the players participate in a team-building exercise. The goal is to introduce the kids from different states and sections. The exercise was also a friendly competition between teams and Lucy wanted to win. “I got choked up watching all the kids mingle,” Lucy's mom says.
“And it showed teamwork because they didn’t want to let Lucy down. When her teammates realized it was important to her, they knew it needed to be important to them," adds Wendy.
“They all have their moments of leadership,” says Cheryl.
Above all, the parents are thankful for the opportunities their children have shared through World TeamTennis and Junior Team Tennis before that. Both moms look forward to watching their kids play in college and to see what lies ahead for future WTT Jr. teams.
“There’s strong TeamTennis in the Midwest,” says Cheryl.
When asked about his season, teammate Aidan William says, “I had a really fun experience at WTT. I loved every minute of it. Competing with my team was a blast and I enjoyed all of my time on and off the court."
Jones McNamar shared those same feelings, stating that the team's success ultimately was a result of playing together for years. "The key [to it all] was our chemistry. We have been friends for years.”
Junior Team Tennis is a competitive, level-based environment that promotes individual growth, social growth and life skills. If you'd like to get involved with Junior Team Tennis, click here to contact your local district coordinator.