Roll With It Monthly

Jr. Camp Comes Home 

July 10, 2017

A triumphant homecoming was experienced by all as the Wheelchair Tennis Junior Camp returned to the place of its birth. 


More than 20 years ago, this joint venture between the ITF and USTA started at the Lakeshore Foundation in Birmingham, Ala. The complex is home to an Olympic and Paralympic training center and has a great deal to offer to aspiring athletes. 


There are four wheelchair tennis junior camps worldwide, in Africa, Europe, Asia and in the Americas. The Americas camp is open to any junior wheelchair tennis player from North, Central and South America as well as the Caribbean. In years past, the Americas camp has been held in the U.S. with the USTA as a main sponsor. Additional funding for the camp comes from the ITF (International Tennis Federation) through the Johan Cruyff Foundation. ADVERTISEMENT  


This year’s camp was held from July 6-12 and had 13 juniors and eight coaches in attendance. Representatives from Canada, Guatemala, Colombia and Chile joined the American contingent. Jason Harnett and Jason Allen from the USTA National Wheelchair Tennis staff planned and organized the event and were assisted on court by American National Coach Paul Walker. The following coaches from abroad also assisted: Steve Manley (Canada), Edgar Rojas (Colombia), David Padilla (Chile) and Giovanni Rangel (Guatemala).  


Each day of the camp included a combination of training and tournament play. Juniors competed in an ITF/USTA tournament where they were able to achieve ranking points nationally and internationally.  


In girls’ tournament play, U.S. World Team Cup member Joanna Nieh won her first ITF title by defeating fellow American Michelle Wilson, 6-2, 6-0. On the boys’ side, Nathan Hunter also won his first title by defeating the four other boys in round-robin play. 


During the week’s closing ceremony, USTA National Wheelchair Tennis Manager Jason Harnett gave a comprehensive history of the camp. 


“The Lakeshore Foundation used to be the home of the biggest wheelchair tennis tournament on the planet,” he said. “It was called the World Challenge. This junior camp started here long ago, then moved to San Diego. It then moved to Mission Viejo, Calif., where it has been held the last 12 years.”


“It was such a pleasure to return this camp to the Lakeshore Foundation,” Harnett said. “We hope to renew our relationship with them and revive tennis here at the training center. The juniors had a wonderful time and it truly is one of the best weeks of the year for us.” 


Jason Allen is the manager for Wheelchair Tennis for the USTA. He works out of the USTA National Campus at Lake Nona in Orlando, Fla.


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