ADVENGERS ON CUSP OF
JTT NATIONALS REPEAT
Tamarah Strauss | October 22, 2016
CAYCE,S.C. – The USTA Mid-Atantic section has had a strong showing this weekend at the 18U Junior Team Tennis National Championships – and it isn't done yet.
Both its Intermediate team, which won the national championship 12 months ago, and its Advanced team will compete for titles Sunday afternoon after another successful morning on Day 2 of competition at the Cayce Tennis Center.
In the Intermediate championship match, the Missouri Valley Greens of Oklahoma City, Okla., will be contesting their first national title as they take on the defending champions, the Mid-Atlantic Advengers of Columbia, Md. The Greens defeated the Eastern Big Hitters of Ithaca, N.Y., 52-38, while the Advengers defeated Missouri Valley’s Lafortune of Tulsa, Okla., 46-38.
The Advengers team features Alexandre Nazaire (Ellicott City, Md.), Amanda Grebosky (Reisterstown, Md.), Andrew Tsai (Ellicott City), Anna Xi (Ellicott City), Brooke Santoriello (Bel Air, Md.), Christopher Chen (Ellicott City), Lilianna Izadi (Eldersburg), Matthew Sklar (Tuscon, Ariz.), Olivia Tsai (Ellicott City), Prateek Swamykumar (Clarksville), Rhoil Bahri (Ellicott City), Ryan Lundergan (Ellicott City), Snigdha Puram (Elkridge) and Tess Weber (Ellicott City).ADVERTISEMENT
“We know how to play really well together,” said Santoriello of her mixed doubles partner, Sklar (pictured above). “We communicate really well and we know what shots to do and it always works out very nicely for us. I always think I play my best, especially when my team needs me and I know we are looking forward to defending our title tomorrow.”
The Greens team consists of Alex Richardson (Midwest City, Okla.), Brock Buchanan (Edmond, Okla.), Lauren Harvey (Edmond), Lucia Rutz (Edmond), Mackenzie McCuan (Oklahoma City) Michael Grunsted (Norman, Okla.), Samantha Court (Oklahoma City) and Tanner Brown (Edmond).
“It’s a great feeling to have made it to the championship match,” said Greens coach Tim Shanahan. “We have been really close in previous years and now we are in a spot where we can win the title. The kids are playing pretty well and we have got a lot of depth and different form combinations we can use tomorrow so we are looking forward to it.”
In the Advanced championship match, Mid-Atlantic’s DMV Elite of Washington, D.C., will be taking on Southern’s SDUTA, Inc., of Atlanta. DMV Elite defeated Southern’s Pros and Cons of Bristol, Tenn., 50-43, while SDUTA defeated Mid-Atlantic’s Tuckahoe Raptors of Richmond, Va., 56-31.
The DMV Elite team consists of Ashley Fitzpatrick (Vienna, Va.), Daud Gantt-Bey (Washington, D.C.), Dean Minagami (Reston, Va.), Ian Siew (Ellicott City), Jordan Chrysostom (Bowie, Md.), Malkia Menguene (Washington), Nastasia Tamarkin (D.C.), Nicole Walle (Ellicott City), Rani Jones (New Market, Md.), Shawn Berdia (Potomac, Md.) and Trey Stinchcomb (Olney, Md.).
The SDUTA, Inc., team consists of Anders Fry (Roswell, Ga.), Andrei Duarte (Atlanta), Carly Briggs (Calhoun, Ga.), Carol Elizabeth Kerman (Atlanta), Cole Heller (Woodstock, Ga.), Grant Williford (Woodstock), Hannah Hutchings (Woodstock), Jake Briggs (Calhoun, Ga.), Lindsey Wiggins (Acworth, Ga.) and Mallory Gilmer (Woodstock).
LAST MINUTE LOCALS
It was 11 p.m., four days before Nationals, and Summerville Seahawks coach Josh Byrd received the email he had been hoping for – an invitation to Nationals. Because of another team’s withdrawal, Byrd’s team, based out of Summerville, S.C., was next on the list.
“Putting together a team for Nationals has never happened so quickly,” Byrd said. “We are thrilled to be here and the kids love it so far. I just want them to enjoy every minute of it – this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and they are playing their hearts out.”
The group from Summerville is the only team from South Carolina in the National Championships, dubbing them the local team.
On Friday night, players were treated to a player party which included a DJ, photo booth and great food at the Columbia Museum of Art. Players were decked out in all white and could be seen socializing with other teams from around the country, breaking it down on the dance floor, taking selfies and chowing down at the nacho bar.
ON THE SIDELINES
Parents play an important role in the Junior Team Tennis world. From supporting the players through the ups and downs, driving them wherever they need to be or organizing team outings, parents do much of the behind the scenes work to ensure JTT players have great experiences.
“We are there to get them to where they need to go to, help them be good winners and also teach them to be good losers,” said Bill Davis, parent of Olivia Davis, who is a player on the Middle States 18U Intermediate team. “If the kids can walk off the court knowing that they did their best, then that is all we can ask for.”
Many of the parents traveled with their respective teams to help cheer the players on, make sure everyone is where they need to be on time and of course, enjoy some local southern hospitality while in Cayce.
WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER
The seven squad members of the Pacific Northwest team (WRACoons), from Wenatchee, Wash., spend a lot of time together. Not only do they compete as one JTT team throughout the year, they also all attend Wenatchee High School and play for the school’s tennis team. Although they are all close off the court, sometimes they have to compete against each other for spots on their high school team. Their motto: “What happens on the court, stays on the court.”
The team consists of Anna Davenport, Chapman Canlis, Hannah Stonas, Kaylynn Noyd, Luke Andrewjeski, and Yasmina Qazi.
“It’s been really exciting to be a part of the Championships this year,” said 15-year-old Andrewjeski. “We have bonded a lot as a team and we hope to make it back next year.”
College T-shirts from near and far – players supporting their favorite schools, from Cornell and Oklahoma State to Notre Dame and USC.
For many, pump-up music gets players psyched, in the zone and ready to go for their matches. Matthew Sklar, part of the 18U Mid-Atlantic team from Columbia, Md., listens to Lil Wayne ahead of his matches. The 18U Northern team from Fargo, N.D., blasts the Rocky Theme Song, Gonna Fly Now and a group of girls on the Southern WC team from Summerville, S.C., listens to Soulja Boy Tell Em’s Kiss Me Thru the Phone.