Roshkoff, Michibata named to USTA
Junior Leadership Team
May 1, 2017
Saige Roshkoff and Matthew Michibata 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.
Roshkoff and Michibata 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.”
Roshkoff, 14, a resident of Haverford, Pa., has been ranked among the Top 100 players nationally in the USTA Girls’ 14s national standings and broke into the Top 10 of the 16-and-under rankings for the Middle States Section to begin 2017. ADVERTISEMENT In 2016, she won the sportsmanship award at the USTA Girls’ 14s National Championships and was named the Middle States’ most improved player. In the community, Roshkoff has fundraised for Israel Tennis Centers to teach tennis and life skills to underserved youth, and she has worked to recycle tennis balls, donating them to schools and animal shelters, helping to keep some 30,000 tennis balls out of landfills.
Michibata, from West Windsor, N.J., has been ranked as one of the Top 20 18-and-under players in the Middle States Section and has won several section sportsmanship awards. Additionally, he volunteers to help teach tennis to 10-20-year-olds with autism.
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...
Saige Roshkoff: For me, tennis isn’t just a sport, it’s my life, and it has shaped me into the person I am today. The sport has not only taught me so much about myself and what I can accomplish if I set my mind to it, but tennis has also taught me so many life lessons. Much like in the classroom, I love to challenge myself on the tennis court, constantly pushing myself to work as hard as I can and to be the best that I can be. I also like how playing competitive tennis makes me unique and sets me apart from other people.
Probably the most important thing tennis has done for me is to provide an outlet for me to express myself. I have always been a pretty shy person. The confidence I feel being on a tennis court has enabled me to stand up for myself, make my own decisions, resolve conflicts on my own, but most importantly, truly be myself. In doing so, I have met so many incredible players, teammates, opponents and training partners, all with the same interests and work ethic as me. There will be wins and losses along the way, and I am fortunate to be able to travel the country playing tournaments, but it is the relationships I have formed and the experiences I have had with these people that mean so much to me that I know I will remember my entire life.
The tough thing about tennis is the many ups and downs along the journey of improving as a player. Tennis has taught me in life to keep your head held high, even when times get tough, and eventually everything will turn back around into success. You can’t let one bad match or mistake define you as a player or person. It’s what you do after that mistake that counts. If you give something all of your effort and passion, success will come eventually, but you have to keep fighting to reach that success. Every time you go on a tennis court or in life, finish with no regrets.
A huge part of tennis and the relationships that are formed on-court is sportsmanship. Last summer, I was recovering from an injury, and I was not playing my best. Even though I was not at the top of my game, I begged my parents to let me compete in Hard Court (Nationals). I really love playing and enjoy tournaments, particularly national tournaments. As expected, I did not play to the best of my ability. I was surprised when I was awarded the sportsmanship award for the tournament. It is certainly easier to have a good attitude when winning, but the award made me realize that it is even more important to have a good attitude when not playing well, and that shows a lot about your character as a person. Loving tennis should not change if you are winning or losing. I am very thankful for the opportunities and experiences tennis has given me that I will carry with me my whole life.
Matthew Michibata: I discovered my passion for tennis relatively late. My first sport was baseball, and I played that full time until I was 12 years old. But the one-on-one nature of tennis, where I had more responsibility over the outcome of the match, really caught my interest, and I quickly developed a passion for the sport.
Through my training and competitions, I am learning the value of hard work and preparation. Another valuable lesson I am learning is to try and stay positive. I’ve had my ups and downs, but how I react to those moments is the important thing.
Most importantly, I want to do things the right way. The pressures to win can seem overwhelming at times, but I do my best to keep a good perspective and understand that showing respect for the game and carrying myself well is paramount.
My goal is to attend a college that has good academics as well as a strong tennis program, where I can compete at a high level and continue my development. I am very motivated to see how high I can go.