DYNAMIC DUO LEADING
NORTH SHORE LEGENDS
Tamarah Strauss | October 21, 2016
CAYCE, S.C. -- Connor Aulson and Alex Fizz aren’t just playing in the National Championships this year. The 17- and 18-year-old are actually the coaches of the North Shore Legends 18U Advanced team from Middleton, Mass.
Three years ago, they were left with a decision to make. The 14U team they played on could no longer use their regular facility. So Aulson and Fizz got together and decided to research and learn about the all that goes into managing and coaching a team. They got in contact with the New England Section and asked about what it would take to set up an 18U team.
The rest is history, and now they're on the biggest stage: the 2016 Junior Team Tennis National Championships.
The duo manages every aspect of their team (pictured above), from rules and regulations to practice schedules, in addition to giving their team members some tips on how to improve their games. ADVERTISEMENT They recruited friends and new players to join the team and set a goal to make it to Nationals one day.
This year, they reached their goal. They hope to qualify again for 2017 Nationals, as both are still eligible to play and coach again next year.
“We are doing what we do best, just playing tennis,” said Aulson. “My best piece of advice for my teammates and me – if you’re not having fun, you aren’t going to be successful.”
Added Fizz: “Our team name, North Shore Legends, is really full of a bunch of kids that want to have fun and a great time out on the court. We want to be remembered as legends and that’s why that is our team name.”
An 18U Advance team from Green Bay, Wis., otherwise known as the Supreme Court, has been playing with each other since 2010. The five players have grown up together and were all students together at Matthews School in Green Bay.
Having attended the 14U National Championships back in 2012, they are back again, but this time as 18U’s, where their skills, sportsmanship and endurance will be tested even further. One of the foods keeping them fueled throughout the day is none other than cheese. Their favorite? Provolone.
LUCKY NUMBER 13
You know what they say: it takes a village. Each year, various USTA staff members come together to run a flawless tournament. This year’s tournament staff numbers 13, many
of whom look forward to coming back year after year. The National Championships serves as the crown jewel of USTA Junior Team Tennis as the nation’s top teams compete for the title.
“It takes blood, sweat and tears to run this event and it is certainly one of my favorites,” said Brandon Jackson, Director of Junior Teams at USTA Northern. “We are here not just to regulate what is going on, but here to make sure everyone has a great time at the National Championships. We do whatever we can so that it is a great experience for everyone.”
He added: “I look forward to coming to Nationals every year because you get to see a variety of kids from across the country with one goal in mind – and it’s not to win a national championship – it’s to just enjoy the camaraderie with their team and play against players from across the nation.”
At last weekend’s 14U Championship, a team from Washington, D.C., Team DMV Elite, won the 14U Advanced title. The 18U Advanced team, Team DMV Elite, that qualified for the event is a “cousin” of the 14U team; they practice at the same facility and the 18U coach’s son is on the 14U team. The 18U's are hoping for the same result as their counterparts got last weekend. Can they bring home a second title to D.C.?
FIRST AND LAST CHAMPIONSHIPS
Richmond, Va., native Morgan Fuqua, 18, is enjoying her first and last time at the National Championships. The Shenandoah University freshman is a member of the school’s NCAA Division III tennis team and took the weekend off to play for her Richmond based JTT team. Fuqua, whose dad, Michael, is the coach of the JTT team, played at Mill Godwin high school for four years and was a state champion for three years. She is studying physical therapy and hopes to become an athletic trainer.
“It’s an honor to be here at Nationals this weekend,” she said. “My teammates at Shenandoah are so supportive and very proud of me for playing at this level.”
While players may have missed school to attend Day 1 of this year's Nationals, they came well equipped with their school supplies. Some of them were spotted with textbooks open, notes in hand and highlighters in full force studying for upcoming exams.
BY THE NUMBERS
Eight hundred cans of tennis ball and 2,400 tennis balls used throughout the three days of play. Twenty-two courts played on at the Cayce Tennis & Fitness Center and 19 tennis courts played on at the Lexington County Tennis Center. Two hundred and fifty players representing 11 Advanced sections and 13 Intermediate sections.