USTA Kansas Team Places Third at 2023 JTT Section Championships
From July 18-19, Junior Team Tennis (JTT) teams hit Edmond Center Court in Edmond, OK, for the 2023 USTA Missouri Valley JTT Section Championships. One team in particular, the Genesis Greys, made up of players from Genesis Rock Road in Wichita and Genesis Salina, made their district–USTA Kansas–proud with their stellar showing at the tournament.
I caught up with Genesis Greys coach Eva Castiglioni to discuss the team’s experience at Sectionals, and she had nothing but glowing things to say about it and her team.
“First of all, I want to talk about my High Performance Coordinator, Kaey-Den Tan. He came to Genesis Rock Road a year ago and he transformed my Junior Academy,” Eva said. “I talked to him after seeing his potential on court and motivation to play with high level players and I saw a gem needing to prove himself and show his knowledge and professionalism.
“He took the few players we had at the academy [who were playing at] a good level and multiplied the results, attracted the best juniors in Wichita and created a name,” Eva continued. “He is making Genesis Rock Road one of the top places in the area to become a high-level tennis player and develop for college.”
“It was a very good experience for our tennis players and coaches,” said Eva. “We did merge with Genesis Salina [for the tournament]--[Director of Tennis at Genesis Salina] Rafael Bulnes sent us four female players who had amazing energy on the courts. It was just awesome!”
Despite the team being made up of players from different Genesis clubs, the Greys were united as one, and it helped create a wonderful experience for all players on the team. “We wanted to put our image out there that not only do these players come here as one team but we are also competing together. The experience was amazing!”
- L-R: Addie Renfro, Isaac Homan, Claire Renfro, Isaac Huber, Mallory Renfro, Jaxon Post, Kinsley Foth, Trevor Sagehorn, Mia Jaramillo, Hayden Carillo, Eva Castiglioni (Director of Juniors & High Performance at Genesis Rock Road). Not pictured: Amir Khicha, Vhaan Ganganala, Rafael Bulnes (Director of Tennis at Genesis Salina)
Eva, who is also the Director of Junior Tennis at Genesis Rock Road in Wichita, explained how, while the team swept the District Championships at Plaza Tennis Center in June, with big wins for boys’ and girls’ singles, boys’ and girls’ doubles, and mixed doubles, they ultimately placed third overall at the Section Championships, despite winning their matches.
“We played against five other teams, two of those were also from Genesis clubs,” she said. “It was a round robin [tournament] in which each team had to present one boy’s singles player, one girl’s singles player, boys’ and girls’ doubles teams, and a mixed doubles team, and the team that won the most games overall would win the tournament, instead of sets won. For example, the team that ultimately won had a match where they beat the other team 6-1, 6-1, and we beat the same team they did, but it was 6-4, 6-4, so they earned more points.”
The pride Eva has for her team shows through her words. She’s incredibly proud of her whole team. “Kaey-Den is proving his leadership and guiding all of our tennis players to the best they could imagine,” Eva said. “It is just the beginning. The effort he puts into the programming, practices, and communication with the parents, I have not seen this many times in my life.
“He is becoming one of the best junior tennis coaches in the nation. All the coaches we have [at Genesis] that coach juniors–Felipe Batistella, Bruno Suiama, Zach Loomis, Karlo Skvorc, Simon Norman only make this place more valuable. Director of Tennis, Anton Tsymbalov, gave me the opportunity to change the juniors program and have the freedom to be creative. I thank him for that.”
She notes how important it is to produce junior programming year-round. “I recommend all clubs sign up for JTT and create more in-house tournaments to help kids get more acclimated and work together to create more opportunities for junior players. It would make everything better.”
Come September, Kaey-Den will be reaching out to other clubs in the area about hosting a club tennis league for children to play tennis against each other every weekend through fall. Although, he notes, there are challenges to doing that. “There are still too many kids focused on too many different sports not giving the opportunity to really develop their game, putting all the hours and training into one sport,” Kaey-Den said. “We have to believe in the development of more events, more tournaments in the area and other states to see what is out there.”
Please join us in congratulating the Genesis Greys on their strong showing at this year’s USTA Missouri Valley JTT Section Championships! USTA Kansas is so proud of you, and we can’t wait to see what these players do next.