Del Olmo, Barquero named to USTA
Junior Leadership Team
May 1, 2017
Tomas del Olmo and Erika Barquero 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.
Del Olmo and Barquero 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.”
Del Olmo, 17, a resident of St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, was among the Top 150 players in the 16-and-under age bracket in the USTA National Standings and has been in the Top 10 of the 18-and-under rankings in the USTA Caribbean Section. ADVERTISEMENT Additionally, he volunteers to teach local kids tennis at public courts in St. John.
Barquero, 16, of Caguas, P.R., was the top-ranked girl in Puerto Rico in the USTA’s Girls’ 16s standings in early March and held the No. 2 spot in the 18-and-under standings. She’s represented Puerto Rico in Junior Fed Cup (2015-16) and has won doubles titles at ITF World Junior events in El Salvador (2015) and at the El Nacional Campeonato de Tenis in Puerto Rico (2016), where she won the sportsmanship award the year prior. Barquero has played for the Notre Dame High School tennis team since seventh grade and won the PRHSAA championship in 2013-14. She regularly volunteers to help kids get started in tennis at the Puerto Rico Tennis Association.
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...
Tomas del Olmo: I began my tennis career when I was 10 years old with my brother and my father. As the years progressed and I began to move up in level, I began to compete. I believe tennis serves as a life skill. I use tennis not only to compete but as a moral code to exemplify what I can do on and off the court humbly and honorably. My parents told me that I could compete only if I showed good sportsmanship on and off the court. I really owe it to the support that my family gives me.
On the small island of St. John there is no one to train with except my coach. I play in the Caribbean Section of the USTA and have to travel for every single tournament of the year to help my ranking nationally. As a result of all this traveling, I truly understand the sacrifice my parents and coach have made for me and how I have the opportunity that many others may not be able to cherish. I reflect this gratitude in my tennis matches because it is my way of showing how grateful I am.
Being selected to be part of the USTA Leadership Team is greater than any other match or even tournament I could ever win. This is an achievement in my eyes, saying that I completed my goal in satisfying myself and everyone around me. A trophy is celebrating my achievements; sportsmanship celebrates the process that everyone put into me. Thank you very much for the nomination.
Erika Barquero: When I was 7 years old, my sisters played volleyball and my parents played tennis. However, I told my parents I wanted to learn how to play tennis and began taking lessons. When I was about 9 years old, I began playing tournaments, and although I ran track and played volleyball in school, by the time I was 12 years old, I chose tennis over the other sports, deciding to concentrate all my efforts into the sport.
A big challenge for me was playing on my high school team in 7th grade and my partner being a junior. That year, we won the high school championship, which for me and all my friends was something huge. I soon realized I loved to compete and have to admit I hated to lose, but I think that made me stronger every time. In tennis, you have to control your emotions, which sometimes can be difficult, but that definitely helps you grow as a person. I have learned through tennis that, if you want something, you have to work hard to achieve it, and if you lose, you can’t give up. Through the years, I have learned that I have to keep working harder every time to improve and reach my goals.
Through tennis I have had the chance to make special friends. I have learned that, on the court, you compete and see the other person as your rival, but outside of the court, everything changes. Your rivals become your friends because you share and understand the sacrifices of training, missing a party and keeping up with school work. You both know what it means to lose and win.
I have had the opportunity to travel to different states and countries and have made many friends abroad. I even had the chance to meet Olympic Gold Medalist Monica Puig, someone who I admire for how hard she has worked and for her humbleness. I have to say tennis is my life, and although matches are tough, it is a game which I greatly enjoy.