Duo, Yelamanchili named to USTA
Junior Leadership Team
May 18, 2018
Bill Duo and Lahari Yelamanchili have been named to the third annual USTA Junior Leadership Team, which recognizes America’s finest junior tennis players who exhibit leadership, sportsmanship and character on and off the court.
Duo, a resident of Portage, Mich., Duo and Yelamanchili, of Burr Ridge, Ill., are among more than 30 players nationwide named to the USTA Junior Leadership Team. Each player was nominated by his or her USTA section for their excellence in tennis and in the community.
“These players are our future leaders, and the values they’ve shown to embody both on the court and in the community are evidence that our future will be in good hands,” said Lew Brewer, the USTA’s Director of Junior Competition. “They are the perfect role models that represent our nationwide Net Generation efforts, and they truly deserve to be recognized with the USTA Junior Leadership Team.”ADVERTISEMENT
Duo, 18, has been ranked No. 2 in the USTA Boys’ 18s national standings, and will begin his college tennis career at Princeton University in the fall. He was a Michigan state high school singles and team champion in 2015, and was a runner-up at the USTA Boys’ National Championships in the 14-and-under level. He’s been the recipient of the 2018 WMTA Schlukebir Scholarship Award, as well as earning Portage Central High School’s gold award for outstanding grades four years in a row. He also volunteers at the Kalamazoo YMCA.
Yelamanchili, 16, has been ranked in the Top 40 of the USTA national standings, at the 14-and-under level, and No. 1 in the Girls’ 16s level in the Midwest section. In 2016, she was the IHSA 2A state champion out of Lyons Township High School and won the Helen Shockley Award as Chicago Player of the Year. This February, she won a USTA National Level 2 doubles title in the 18-and-under division.
“I am so grateful to have tennis in my life,” Yelamanchili said. “It has taught me so many life lessons and helped me outside of the sport. I have learned how to deal with pressure, as well as how to compete. From a young age, my parents and coaches told me the importance of sportsmanship. From then, I tried my best to play every match with sportsmanship no matter if I was winning or losing. I believe that sportsmanship is one of the most important things in tennis, and allows you to play to the best of your ability. My sportsmanship in tennis has also helped me off the court, in my daily life. I am so happy I have been able to play this sport and gone through this journey with my family, friends and coaches.”
Each year, more than 120,000 players compete in USTA junior tournaments. Players compete in levels of competition through earned advancement in the 10s, 12s, 14s, 16s and 18s age divisions. USTA junior tournaments help kids take their game as far as they want – high school, college or pros – or just have fun competing.
In his own words:
Bill Duo: I can’t imagine my life without tennis. The sport has become intertwined with who I am and the future that still awaits. I still remember how it began. It's amazing how a single decision would have such a profound impact on my life. While at a neighborhood park, my mom, dad, and older sister were playing tennis. Curious, I wandered down off the monkey bars toward the courts. Since there were only three rackets, I did what any little brother would do – I took my sister’s. The game was challenging and fun and I never looked back. A wonderful collection of people helped turn my passion into a dream come true. Tennis has shaped my character, provided me a special community of friends, and given me the opportunity to attend one of the nation's most prestigious universities.
While some find tennis a lonely sport, I do not see it that way. Instead, it is my belief that the self-reliance learned during competition is invaluable. On the court, there is only me. Success or failure in the moment depends on effort, perseverance, and reactions to the changing conditions of your opponent. Tennis demands mental strength tempered with this flexibility. Mastering these skills has assisted me in all areas of my life. For instance, missing school for tournaments requires learning material on my own even when physically exhausted. You learn to push through and give that extra bit of effort that always makes all the difference. In tennis, I love a challenging match and fighting through it to the end. In school, I love the challenge of the rigorous IB Diploma program. Tennis has taught me how to be proactive, quickly problem solve and to dig deep to find the determination to get the job done.
My family and coaches are the mentors in my life. They emphasize that doing the right thing is always the ultimate goal; character and honor are always more important than the win or loss. They remind me to not let anything keep me down or to let anything go to my head. There is always room for improvement and that the pursuit of excellence is contagious. This is a mindset that I will carry forward, no matter the challenge. I’m forever grateful for their time and effort. I know I didn’t get here alone - where I am is the sum of all the opportunities, encouragement, help and support given to me by others. As such, it is my duty to give back and mentor young aspiring tennis players. I know from personal experience just how much this matters. Volunteering my time is a small but important way to show my appreciation to those who did the same for me. Hopefully, I can inspire others to take up the racket and give tennis everything they’ve got.
My tennis and academic results have helped me secure a spot on the Princeton University tennis team. I will take full advantage of everything they have to offer because I know that this is a rare opportunity. To be able to play tennis in college and receive an amazing education is truly a dream come true. I’m incredibly excited for the next chapter in my life. I am grateful for every person who has shown me support, given me encouragement, or cheered me on through the years.