District Championships Primed for Heated Competition
With bids to the USTA Missouri Valley Section Championships hanging in the balance, the 2021 USTA St. Louis District Championships pledge to feature competitive and quality tennis with the best men’s and women’s league teams in the area participating.
The 2021 Adult 18+ St. Louis District Championships will take place during the course of two weekends — June 18-20 and June 25-27. All District action is slated to occur outside at the historic Dwight Davis Tennis Center in Forest Park.
Up first, the qualifying men’s teams at 3.0, 3.5, 4.0 and 4.5 — as well as the women’s 4.5 teams — will compete the weekend of June 18-20. Matches begin at 1:00 p.m. on June 18 and will wrap up by 7:00 p.m. On June 19-20, play will start at 9:00 a.m. and conclude by 3:00 p.m.
Also that weekend at Dwight Davis, USTA St. Louis will run its Adult 55+ Women’s 7.0 playoffs to determine who advances to the Section Championships.
The following weekend, the top area women’s teams will be in focus at the 18+ 2.5, 3.0, 3.5, 4.0 and 4.5. matches will start at 1:00 p.m. on June 25 and finish by 7:00 p.m. On both June 26 and 27, play is scheduled to begin at 9:00 a.m. and will culminate at 7:00 p.m.
For both genders and at every NTRP level, the teams that finish in first place at districts book their tickets to sectionals. In Adult 18+ play, the Section Championships will take place in St. Louis Aug. 5-8 for 3.0, 4.0 and 5.0. The 2.5, 3.5 and 4.5 district champs, meanwhile, will advance to sectionals Oklahoma City Aug. 19-23.
“Districts definitely turn up a notch to the level of competition because it’s really hard to make it,” said Jill Kunkel, USTA St. Louis adult league coordinator. “Especially when we’re talking about the leagues that have 40 to 50 teams throughout the season, and only six of them will get to compete in districts. So it is pretty exciting.”
Kunkel said some squads will wear team uniforms or get t-shirts made to demonstrate their team spirit. While last year’s districts did take place during the Covid-19 pandemic, the sectional round and USTA National Championships were canceled. Kunkel noted this year’s championships and all USTA St. Louis District Championships moving forward will be held outdoors.
A minimum of two teams and a maximum of six teams per flight will be competing in districts at Dwight Davis. That number is dictated by how many teams were in the respective leagues. Women’s 3.5 women, for example, had 18 teams competing in the fall league and 18 teams in the spring, too. Another 12 teams battled in the day league. Of those 48 teams, only six earned a spot in districts.
Kunkel said after the top teams qualify for district play, a wild-card process determines the remaining available slots. And while only the district champ automatically moves forward to USTA Missouri Valley Sectional Championships, it is possible through another wild-card process a second team gets awarded a sectional spot.
Onlookers should keep an eye on the 4.0 men’s flight, which Kunkel said has been super competitive and “is going to be fun to watch.” With high-caliber teams vying for titles, Kunkel encouraged individuals to come out and show support.
“I would say come and cheer on the tennis community, your fellow league players and see some good tennis,” Kunkel said.
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