REIGN BRINGS PEDIGREE
TO JUNIOR TEAM TENNIS NAITONALS
Dan Pyser | September 29, 2017
Auburn University, the University of Alabama, Harvard University or Cornell University. These are all some of the places you may find current and former Southern Reign players competing in the near future.
This week, the Southern Reign will be competing on the courts of the USTA National Campus at the Junior Team Tennis 18U National Championships. The Advanced team, hailing from Atlanta, brings a truly advanced pedigree to this year’s tournament that begins with the coaching staff and continues through its roster of college prospects.
It is a talent level usually not seen on the courts of a Junior Team Tennis tournament, but for coach Kerri Magee, it provides a valuable opportunity for her players.
“The best part about this team, as talented as they are, is they’ve all become great friends,” said Magee. ADVERTISEMENT
A year ago, Magee and five players from this year’s rosters took home the 18U Advanced title. They’re back this year with a revamped roster, each player as talented as the next, looking to bring another champion back to the Peach City.
“They’re very humble players. I don’t think you would know their talent the way they carry themselves,” Magee said.
The coaching staff is made up of Magee, who brings seven years of JTT coaching experience, as well as Stephen Diaz and David Drew, who run two of the largest tennis academies in Atlanta. Diaz and Drew spend most of the year coaching and training elite players on the junior circuit. For them, this is a refreshing change of pace.
“The team atmosphere, it’s not something they get too often, which kind of creates a freshness, a new way to compete,” said Drew. “These kids are playing in so many tournaments nowadays so to be able to do something outside the box, do something together, they enjoy this more than anything else."
Diaz echoed his counterpart’s sentiments.
“The hard part of junior tennis is being on your own. You can see the stress and the pressure that these kids are under,” said Diaz. “So I feel like events like these, everyone can chill out and let the kids play and have fun with each other. At the same time, we can still be competitive and play hard.”
“We don’t usually get to be a part of a team, so that’s fun,” said Anders Fry, who was on last year’s championship-winning team. “It’s less pressure, but we still want to win.”
For a team of college prospects, tournaments like these provide invaluable experience that will help the players as they continue their tennis careers.
“It’s very similar to what they’ll see in college, obviously at a higher level, but the team atmosphere," Diaz said. "You want them to experience that.”
Added Drew: “They’ll have the challenge of playing on a line, making a spot on the line, traveling as a team. They don’t get to do that much in their junior career."
For now, the team has its sights on another Junior Team Tennis crown. The Reign have one of the largest rosters in the tournament, so the players can often be found cheering on their fellow teammates. It’s the camaraderie and the team spirit that the coaches noted are some of the best aspects of a team event.
Player Nick McKinney best summed up the team’s attitude: “We’re one big family.”