Pereira, Jack named to USTA
Junior Leadership Team
May 1, 2017
Bryce Pereira and Devon Jack 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.
Pereira and Jack 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.”
Pereira, 18, a resident of Arcadia, Calif., is a UCLA signee who is ranked as one of the Top 60 players in the country, according to TennisRecruiting.net. ADVERTISEMENT He’s the owner of several national and regional USTA tournament singles and doubles successes and sportsmanship awards – including the USTA SoCal Evelyn Houseman Lifetime Junior Sportsmanship Award – and has appeared in a commercial with Roger Federer. Additionally, the San Marino High School product has volunteered at LA Regional Food Bank and donated magazines and visited patients with cystic fibrosis at Keck Hospital of USC.
Jack, from San Marino, Calif., has been ranked as one of the Top 150 18-and-under girls in the nation in the USTA rankings and was one of the Top 30 prospects in the Class of 2016, according to TennisRecruiting.net. She was a two-time National High School All-American and led San Marino High School to two straight CIF championships. Jack, who just completed her freshman season at Brown University, has won a number of local and national tournament titles and sportsmanship awards. Off the court, she was an AP scholar, logging a 4.4. GPA in 2016, and volunteered at Ronald McDonald House and for the National Charity League.
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...
Bryce Pereira: Tennis has been a part of my life since the minute I was born. My coach, otherwise known as “dad,” put a tennis ball in my hands when I was still in the hospital nursery. It’s funny to think back to all that I’ve accomplished and to wonder what life would have been like if my dad hadn’t decided to put that ball into the hands of his newborn son. Even before I could walk, my dad would hold me up and practice swinging forehands.
My dad has always said to me that tennis is a lifelong sport, meaning that it will be with me my entire life, teaching me lessons not only on court but off the court, as well. Tennis is not just about the forehands and backhands, it is about what you take from it as a person and as an individual. It has taught me things like patience, resilience, gratitude, fear, anger, triumph and happiness. These things can’t be taught in a classroom; they have to be felt and experienced in order to understand them fully.
Tennis is a game that I have a love-hate relationship with. Anyone who has ever played competitive tennis can relate. It is a roller coaster of a game to play. It has its ups and many downs. What I’ve learned in my 12 years of competing in tournaments is that the struggles I’ve encountered are the things I’ve learned the most from. It’s a bitter feeling to experience a tough loss, but it helps to build character. It teaches you to be resilient and bounce back from failure. Tennis is a brutal sport. There is no time limit to matches, and you can play your best and still lose.
Tennis has opened many doors for me. For example, I’ve done a commercial with Roger Federer that was aired during the French Open in 2013. It has also assisted me in receiving a tennis scholarship to UCLA. Tennis has given me the opportunity to travel and see this great country of ours and meet many people along the way.
Above all, tennis has taught me what it means to be sportsmanlike. Sportsmanship is huge in not only sports but in life. It reflects who you really are as a person. Sportsmanship to me is defined into five main categories. First, you have to be cooperative with others. Being able to work with coaches, trainers and teammates is necessary in the game of tennis. Second, you have to play fair. This is one of the biggest things to exemplify when you are being sportsmanlike. Third, you have to be gracious, win or lose. You have to enjoy the battle and the process of getting to that next level. Fourth, you have to be respectful to everyone and everything. Whether it’s showing respect to your opponent, the referee or the court, my parents always taught me to be respectful. Lastly, you have to be humble. This is the most important to me because nobody likes a braggart. As my dad says, “Sportsmanship is about character, not about how well you hit the ball. It’s about who you are, not just about how well you play.”
Last month, I had the honor of receiving the Evelyn Houseman Junior Sportsmanship Award from USTA Southern California. To have received this specific award was very humbling because ever since Day 1, my parents taught me values that shape who I am today. Without their guidance, none of what I’ve accomplished would be possible.
This sport has been more than just a game to me. It has been a key that has opened many doors for me. It has made such a positive impact on my life, and I am forever grateful towards it. I can’t imagine who I would’ve become without it.
Devon Jack: As I look back at my years of junior tennis, I have come to the realization that tennis has provided me with the tools to help me learn how to navigate life. I have learned that there is a lesson in every failure and that I have to find strength and courage within myself. The game of tennis taught me to be a better person. It helped me to learn the true meaning of good sportsmanship. Learning these lessons has not been easy, but I am eternally grateful because tennis has taught me some guiding principles for life.
LESSON 1 – Don't whine. Don't complain. Don't blame others. Take responsibility. Treath others with respect.
Tennis has taught me that I am the only one who can control my actions. How I play, how I conduct myself, how I react is up to me. I cannot blame anyone – not my parents, not the weather, not my age. No matter how I played, win or lose, I should respect my opponents and their abilities. Sometimes you get outplayed, sometimes you make mistakes, sometimes it is not your best day but you learn to persevere.
LESSON 2 – Character means making good choices.
One of my coaches said, "We are who we are by the choices we make. So often, we focus on the wins and rankings and only pay lip service to what is most important – character." He is absolutely right. How we choose to conduct ourselves and live our lives is a choice that we make. We must decide, every day, to strive to be a better person and conduct ourselves in a positive manner.
LESSON 3 – Always look for the positive.
Playing competitive tennis has its ups and downs. For example, because of tennis, I have been able to see most of the United States, but it was usually at the expense of spending Thanksgiving and Christmas and many weekends away from my family. However, how lucky am I that I was able to play in those national-level tournaments? How lucky was I to have special memories?
Some memories were life-altering. The first national-level tournament I won was in Oklahoma City, Okla. No matter where we played, my mom had us visit something that was of historical significance to that specific city. In this case, it was the Oklahoma City National Memorial. I will never ever forget the impact of walking the site and visiting the museum. I will never forget these words:
"We come here to remember those who were killed, those who survived and those changed forever. May all who leave here know the impact of violence … May this memorial offer comfort, strength, peace, hope and serenity."
At the time, I thought what was important was winning the tournament. Looking back, I know that what was the most important was to never forget what happened in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995.
How many dances, plays, football games and other "normal" high school activities did I miss? More than I care to remember, but tennis helped make my dream come true. It provided me the priceless opportunity to attend Brown University, my dream school since I was in second grade.
LESSON 4 – Be grateful.
My parents say that it is the memories that you make in life, the friends and special people that come into your life, that fill your soul. If that is the case, then I am forever grateful for tennis because it has helped me meet extraordinary people, create priceless memories and life-long friendships. It has filled my soul.