Dan Pyser | September 22, 2017

The USTA Junior Team Tennis National Championships are filled with stories of dedication, camaraderie and team spirit.

Those traits are epitomized by 14-year-old Ainsley Heidbreder from St. Louis, whose Missouri Athletic Club team is competing in the Advanced division and representing the USTA Missouri Valley Section.

The MAC team has an inside track to the semifinals, after going 2-0 Friday to take a commanding lead in its group.  Heidbreder, though, won’t be celebrating with her team. As the rest of her teammates relax by the pool after a successful day of tennis in the Orlando heat, she’ll be on a plane en route to St. Louis.

Heidbreder (pictured above, second from left) also plays for her high school team, the John Burroughs School in St. Louis. John Burroughs has a pivotal match against archrival MICDS Saturday and Heidbreder had a decision to make.

“I couldn’t decide which team to play for, so I decided to do both,” she said.

She plans to fly back to Orlando for the team’s final match on Sunday, which could potentially be for a national title. Heidbreder and her MAC teammates came in seventh a year ago and she couldn’t miss the opportunity to possibly bring a championship back to St. Louis.

“Tennis is my passion. It’s been everything for me so I would do anything to have as many opportunities to play as I possibly can,” she said.

Coach Max Shapiro has to rearrange Saturday’s lineup but is confident in his team’s chances.

“We have other girls who can pick up the slack but, as a coach, her dedication is really appreciated,” said Shapiro.

For a traditionally individual sport, JTT brings all the positives of team sports to the tennis courts.

“Team tennis is fantastic,” said Shapiro “The kids get to play together and cheer for each other. To be able to do that at a national tournament is pretty special.”

Heidbreder won’t be here Saturday to cheer on her team, but she’s expecting updates throughout the day. She had one final message to her team before she left for the airport: “Go win.”



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