Ton, Choy named to USTA
Junior Leadership Team
May 1, 2017
Andrew Ton and Sara Choy 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.
Ton and Choy 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.”
Ton, 17, a resident of Milpitas, Calif., has been ranked among the Top 150 18-and-under players in the USTA’s national rankings. ADVERTISEMENT He’s won a number of doubles titles at USTA national championships, including the 16-and-under national hard court title last year. He was a captain, three-time Team MVP and WCAL First Team selection at Bellarmine College Prep.
Choy, 16, from Palo Alto, Calif., has been ranked in the Top 3 of every age group in the USTA Northern California sectional rankings, in the Top 15 of the USTA Girls’ 18s national rankings and was the No. 1-ranked Girls’ 16-and-under player last year. She’s won a number of national and regional titles, including the 16-and-under USTA National Winter Championships singles title in 2015. In the community, she’s involved with East Palo Alto Tennis and Tutoring.
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...
Andrew Ton: From the outside looking in, most people would think that we are a typical tennis family — but we are not. As expected, my parents play recreational tennis, both of my sisters played juniors and in college, and all of us traveled long and far to take lessons with some of the best tennis coaches in the world. But throughout this journey, my parents' philosophy insisted on, first and foremost, raising us to become good people through this sport — not tennis players. They instilled in me and my sisters the mindset of, 'It's not just tennis; it's about life, too!"
A couple days before Kalamazoo last year, a friend of mine — who is one of the top juniors in the world — called me to tell me that he was done with tennis and wanted to quit the game. After spending time on the phone encouraging him to take time off and reconsider, we agreed to meet for dinner before the tournament to continue discussing. I was in the middle of playing hoops with several friends who I invited to the hotel for down time and a pasta feed that the aforementioned friend called regarding our dinner agreement. I left the fun I had instigated, telling my friends to continue playing without me.
After a long talk over an almost three-hour dinner, I felt that I was able to get my friend to think more positively in terms of life and tennis. All of the friends I left at my own 'party' that day still think I left them for a rendezvous with a girlfriend. :) When one of the recruiting college coaches asked my dad, "Obviously, Andrew is a good tennis player, but what is he like as a person?" my dad reflected on this story.
"Even better as a person than he is on court!"
The saying that 'tennis is a sport for life' truly resonates with me in all forms. What I've learned through tennis over the past 17 years, particularly sportsmanship, has not only shaped me as a player but who I am today.
Sara Choy: Tennis has, in all these years, shaped the person that I am today, and each day continues to teach me many things about myself. Tennis has taught me that immediate improvements rarely come around. It’s the little-by-little, day-by-day improvements that add up to success. Expectations of immediate improvements will only lead to disappointment and discouragement. It is to trust in the process that hard work and growing mental strength will pay off and by committing 100 percent to every goal set. To be half in and half out will be a challenge in itself to meet any goals set. Each goal requires 100 percent commitment, focus and persistence.
Who you are on the tennis court is who you are in your everyday life. If you are a player who disrespects the sport, your opponents and yourself, then it’s clear that that’s who you are off the court as a person. When things don’t go your way, whether it’s in a match or in practice, how will you behave and carry yourself on the court? There are choices to be made. How do you deal with failures and successes throughout each match in your tennis journey and in your journey in life?
At the end of the day, when you are showing good sportsmanship, not only are you respectful of your opponents but you are also a great competitor to your opponent by giving the match the very best.
I remember playing a top world-ranked junior at Hard Court (Nationals). I had played her previously at a Level 1 ITF and lost in a quick match, having won only one game. I knew that I had not given my all in that match and was disappointed in myself for not being 100 percent committed to the match and for not believing in myself. I learned a big lesson after losing terribly. It didn’t matter so much that she was a top player because it first begins with me, from me and my efforts to give it my all. This commitment is certainly for my improvement and advancement in the game, but it’s also to show respect to my opponent and to myself, to give myself the best shot possible.
Four months later, I met her again, and going into this rematch, I knew for me that I was going to be 100 percent committed. Although I had several opportunities to win the first set, at the end of the match, I walked to the net with great strength and power, my head high and my confidence unharmed because I knew that I had given myself the best shot possible and was 100 percent committed to doing my best. Although the match was a close loss, I walked off the court feeling like the winner.
Lastly, tennis has taught me that tennis is not easy. Life is not easy. In order to be successful in tennis and especially in life, you have to be resilient. There’s no doubt that there will be failures, but those who look beyond the failures and focus on what’s more important down the road will experience more growth. I have learned to recover from failures and turn my failures into successes, big or small. It’s about not getting discouraged and believing that there’s no failure too great to break through from. If there’s one thing that tennis has definitely taught me in these past nine years it’s to “bounce back.”