Missouri Juniors Take Part in L1 USTA National Championships
Junior players Caleb Kim and Kate Kimes recently participated in the prestigious USTA Level 1 National Championships, widely considered one of the top junior tournaments of the year. Kim and Kimes both represented USTA Missouri at the 12 & Under level.
“As a small District with not a lot of high-performance coaches, it’s awesome we had two competing this year,” said Courtney Nesbitt, USTA Missouri junior competition coordinator. “Myself and a couple other coaches I know are working toward producing higher-level athletes, so hopefully we have more in the future. But it’s awesome Kate and Caleb were able to compete this year.”
Kim — who is from Springfield — defeated No. 17-seeded Akshay Mirmira of Bethesda, Maryland in the opening round before besting Zesen Wang of State College, Pennsylvania in Round 2 by a scoreline of 6-4, 7-5. Kim then fell to No. 12-seed Robert McAdoo 6-4, 6-3 in the third round. He proceeded to drop a match in straight sets to Jerrid Gaines Jr of Margate, Florida.
In doubles play, Kim teamed up with Alexander Dirlea of Birmingham, Michigan. The duo was eliminated in the first round in straight sets by the No. 8-seeded squad.
The No. 17-seeded Kimes — who is from Columbia — lost a tight match in the opening round, 6-3, 6-4, to Bailey Scott of Goshen, Kentucky. She won her next match against Karishma Satti of Wayne, Pennsylvania 6-1, 6-2 before falling to Maggie Sohns of Cooperstown, New York 6-3, 6-3. Kimes then played a three-setter against Vivian Chen of Sunnyvale, California, losing 1-6, 6-4, 10-6.
“I worked with Kate when she was like age 5-7 maybe. At 5-years-old, I remember a video of us getting like 60 in a row back and forth with a red ball,” Nesbitt said. “Obviously not coaching her for the last six years or so, she has improved so much. It’s crazy she has gotten this good. But she’s always loved tennis since she was little.”
Nesbitt added Kim and Kimes simply qualifying for the USTA Level 1 National Championships was a massive accomplishment. Kim played at the Mobile Tennis Center in Alabama on August 8-10. Kimes competed at Windward Lake Club in Alpharetta, Georgia on August 8-11.
“Level 1s are a huge deal to make it into and are the ultimate goal as a junior athlete,” Nesbitt said. “It’s some of the best tennis they play. Watching the kids compete in different levels — watching them compete at Level 1 — they even play differently. They’re making it to their goal. There are not a lot of kids in the country who have the opportunity to compete for that spot in their age group.”
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