USTA St. Louis Junior Emerey Gross Having Standout Season
Local standout junior competitor Emerey Gross is on an electric run that’s vaulted her into a top-10 national ranking at the girls’ 14 & Under age division. Gross — an eighth grader at Kirkwood’s Nipher Middle School who will be attending area powerhouse St. Joseph’s Academy in the fall — has captured four coveted USTA National Championship Balls during her illustrious junior career.
Gross — ranked No. 8 in the country and No. 1 for both the USTA St. Louis district and USTA Missouri Valley as of publication time — has been on a tear of late. She collected her first National Championship Ball by finishing second in singles at the USTA National Winter Championships in January 2020.
After the Covid-19 pandemic struck, Gross came out of the break by winning the 14s Gold Ball in doubles at the USTA National Indoor Championships. Right after that was the USTA National Winter Championships, where Gross continued her stellar stretch by placing third in singles action. Most recently, Gross picked up a Bronze Ball in doubles at the Easter Bowl in Indian Wells, California.
“We are super proud of those achievements and her ranking,” said Ashley Gross, Emerey’s mother. “But I think why we’re excited about this article is to highlight Emerey can be this in doubles and this in singles, but mostly she’s also a good teammate. She received the sportsmanship award last year. That’s the greatest achievement we always like to talk about. She is a great sport and is well-rounded.”
Gross was selected for the 2021 Girls’ 14s Junior Sportsmanship Award by USTA St. Louis. Both her mother and father, Matt Gross, credited her coaches — Troy Bray of Core Academy and Scott Stutz of Missouri Athletic Club — as being instrumental figures in her success and development on and off the court.
Gross competed in multiple sports growing up including soccer, swimming and dance. Gross still spends eight hours a week in the dance studio, though she’s narrowed her focus more to tennis in recent years and will continue to do so. Gross will age up to the USTA 16 & Under division this fall, presenting a new set of challenges she’s preparing to tackle.
“For Emerey, tennis just appeals to her,” Ashley said. “She was born with that attention, focus and a strong work ethic. That willingness to repeat and practice skills you don’t often see in that young of a kid. We always had to do things over and over again. As she grew older and her skills grew on the court, she just loved to compete.”
Matt was a multi-sport athlete as well and a strong soccer player who thought Emerey may go down that same track. But as her passion for tennis blossomed, it became clear that was to be the predominant sport for her.
“It was a pretty cool moment when she sat me down and said, ‘Dad, I want to focus in on tennis,’” Matt said. “All the good qualities she’s learned from the different things has culminated in her success. All those strengths have come together. Her tenacity and willingness to grind things out — that stems from playing those other sports. Fighting for the ball. Her ability to stay calm under pressure.”
Emerey got her start in the sport as a 2-year-old when her tennis-loving grandparents, Scott and Donna Stauffer, put a racquet in her hands as soon as she could walk. They taught her how to hit volleys with red balls over a short net. Emerey and her two siblings, Adelyn (12) and Brady (9), spent hours in their grandparent’s basement crushing orange balls loaded into a ball machine. Emerey began competing in USTA tourneys as an 8-year-old.
“That bond has been great of her being able to do tennis with her grandparents when she was young,” Ashley said. “And making friends along the way, as she’s super social. She loves the team events. She loves doubles. But she also has that independence for an individual sport. That high-achieving attitude and persona within her.”
Emerey’s parents said she makes friends easily and has loved the opportunity to meet tennis players around USTA Missouri Valley and across the country. Matt said her work rate and strong sportsmanship are attributes she exhibits in all phases of life.
“It’s so cool as parents to see how she can go on the court and compete, but then off the court she makes these great friends,” Matt said. “Her personality off the court is a big smile. She’s very social and very loyal. She goes deep in her friendships. She doesn’t spread herself so thin. She takes an interest in every one of her friend’s lives.
“Emerey is there to help and is very supportive — whether it’s tennis friends, school friends or family. She is there to help her siblings at any point. She’s there to be an amazing big sister. For parents, that makes us probably the most proud.”
USTA St. Louis offers junior tournaments for all playing abilities, with the popular summer season soon kicking off! To search for junior tourney opportunities, click here.