Bolton, Speicher named to USTA

Junior Leadership Team

May 1, 2017

Elysia Bolton and John Speicher have been named to the second USTA Junior Leadership Team, which recognizes the finest U.S. junior tennis players who exhibit leadership, sportsmanship and character on and off the court.

Bolton and Speicher are among 32 players nationwide named to the USTA Junior Leadership Team. Each player was nominated by his or her USTA section for excellence in tennis and in the community.

“These players truly are role models who exhibit character well beyond their years, both on the tennis court and in the community,” said Bill Mountford, the USTA’s Director of Junior Tournaments. “We’re happy to have a way to give them some of the recognition they truly deserve with the USTA Junior Leadership Team.”

Bolton, a resident of Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., has been ranked as one of the Top 5 18-and-under juniors in the USTA Girls’ 18s national standings and has a number of national singles and doubles titles, as well as sportsmanship awards, to her name. ADVERTISEMENT She also helps raise money for families to afford putting their kids in tennis through the Glenview Tennis Club’s doubles fundraiser and volunteers with the Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association to host a tennis clinic for kids with disabilities.  

Speicher, 18, from Webster, N.Y., has been ranked the No. 1 player in his age group in the USTA Eastern Section and has ranked in the Top 40 nationally in the USTA Boys’ 18-and-under standings. He’s reached the round of 16 at the prestigious USTA Boys’ 18s National Championships in Kalamazoo, Mich., in addition to being named All-Greater Rochester for high school tennis, at Webster Schroeder High School, where he also won the school’s “Boomer Award” for athletics and academics.

Each year, more than 120,000 players compete in USTA junior tournaments. Players compete in levels of competition through earned advancement in the 10s, 12s, 14s, 16s and 18s age divisions. USTA junior tournaments help kids take their game as far as they want – high school, college or pros – or just have fun competing.

In their own words...

Elysia Bolton: I started tennis when I was only 2 years old. I was watching Maria Sharapova play on the television, and I decided that I wanted to be just like her and I wanted to be No. 1 in the world. Ever since that day, I have been in love with the sport.

It is amazing to think back to when I was really little playing in local tournaments to where I am now and how I get to travel the world. For example, as I write this, I am in a hotel in Brazil. Tennis has taught me so much, not just about how to compete and fight for everything but how to act in pressure situations and how to think on my feet. Tennis has helped me mature throughout the years. It has taught me how to deal with adversity, cheaters and the occasional bad day. Even though tennis is an individual sport, I learned that tennis is more than one person: you get to learn from players older than you, and you get to give back to the younger tennis players.

Tennis has also taught me how to manage business decisions with my sponsor, Wilson. I find myself so lucky to have met the people that I have through tennis. Tennis has given me the opportunity to travel the world and make friends from all different countries. Through my career, I have had so many memories that will last forever, but I think my favorite memory was when I represented the USA in France, England and Czech Republic. I will never forget the feeling of walking onto the court with USA written on my back and signing autographs when I was finished. I find myself so lucky to have the family that I do that supports me 100 percent and provides me with the opportunity to travel globally.

Tennis means everything to me. Tennis has provided so many opportunities and memories for me, like when I got to ball kid for the Davis Cup and got to meet John Isner and the Bryan brothers. Thanks to tennis, I am going to UCLA on a full scholarship, I have made friends for life, and I get to see the world: not many other sports provide this opportunity.

Tennis has been my whole life, and I do not know where I would be today without it.

John Speicher: I started playing tennis around 4 years old, after I saw the US Open on TV and asked my mom to play with me. We went into the street of our neighborhood and began hitting around. She was surprised by my ability to actually hit the ball, so she started me in Tiny Tot lessons at Midtown. After about 5 or 6 years of occasional lessons, I began to play competitively at age 10. My parents always thought I would be a basketball player, since they both played in college, but I did not enjoy playing basketball and knew that tennis was the sport for me.

During a match, sportsmanship is everything to me. I like knowing when there won't be any problems on the court because it makes the match much more enjoyable and fair. I take pride in the fact that I have a reputation for being honest. I also want to play with honesty and good sportsmanship because then I feel like I actually earned the win. I didn't steal it or do anything wrong to make the match go my way.

Tennis is special to me because it allows me to travel the country and meet so many new people. At first it started as a way to get out of the house, but now I love spending time with the friends I've made at practice and working hard to achieve my goals and keep improving.

Tennis has given me something to work for. It's allowed me to make goals that I can try to reach.

Thanks to tennis, I've made a lot of new friends from all over the country. One of the best parts about traveling to tournaments is getting to see the friends you haven't seen in a while. I've also made many friends in Rochester, thanks to training, and it's made us all a little family.

I'm much more active than I would be if I didn't play tennis. I spend several hours a day exercising while practicing, and I do additional workouts to try and get stronger. I also try to eat healthy so that my performance is always at its best.

Tennis has given me more opportunities than I can count. It has enabled me to travel all over the country and experience new things. Most recently, it helped me get into an amazing academic school that I might not have been able to get into without tennis.

The sport has also taught me how to work hard, manage my time and make sacrifices, which will all be useful skills when my tennis career is over and I start working.


Related Articles