New England Teams Compete At Intersectionals
James Maimonis, Communications and Engagement Coordinator | July 11, 2018
WESTBOROUGH, MA- Each summer, top New England juniors have the opportunity to put their rivalries aside and compete for the Intersectional Championships as part of Team New England. From June 30 to July 4, eight of the highest ranked players (four girls, four boys) from the 16s and 14s divisions were selected to represent New England in the most prestigious USTA team championship the divisions offer.
All of the 17 USTA New England Sections are invited to compete at the event.
The 16s’ played at the Pierremont Oaks Tennis Club in Shreveport, LA while the 14s were at Yarbrough Tennis Center in Auburn, AL. The team championships, which are conveniently played on clay, also serve as preparation for USTA’s National Clay Courts beginning on July 15.
The 16s team was coached by Troy Crichlow and finished seventh, while Jerry Albrikes led the 14s to an eighth-place finish.
Both Crichlow and Albrikes are veterans when it comes to coaching at Intersectionals.
“It’s always an honor to be selected to coach teams at the highest level of junior tennis in the United States,” Crichlow said. “I’ve been in the section for a long time as a coach so I’ve seen all of our team members develop from a very young age to where they are today. It’s exciting and fun to see them go through their process to be the best versions of themselves.”
Crichlow’s team consisted of: Eleanor Schulson, Iris Gallo, Jennifer Riester, Nastasya Semenovski, Sam Feldman, Michael Karr, Nathan Mao and Matthew Campbell. Albrikes’ team included: Bayley Sheinin, Riya Singh, Caroline Driscoll, Violet Robbins, Dylan Koziol, Azariah Rusher, Sreeman Lakshmanan and Tighe Brunetti.
Albrikes, a Connecticut native, recently moved back to New England after a long stint in South Carolina and was surprised to see such a connection amongst his players.
“I felt the juniors were very excited to be able to be on the same team as the players they normally go up against on a week to week basis,” Albrikes said. “I don't know all the history, but I'm sure these boys and girls have all had some battles against each other over the years. I honestly wouldn't have known that at all though seeing them interact and having so much fun together and supporting each other in all the matches.”
The 14s got underway on day one with an impressive come-from-behind victory that Albrikes felt demonstrated the true makeup of the team. New England trailed 3-1 in matches against Southwest with five singles points still up in the air. Following a rain delay and needing to win four of five to come away victorious, Albrikes was confident his team could bounce back.
“During our break, we discussed what needed to be done all of the kids seemed to know how to pull through. I wrote to my wife and Troy and said, ‘I may sound crazy but I think we can win all five of these matches to beat Southwest,’” Albrikes said.
Azariah Rusher, Violet Robbins and Tighe Brunetti each pulled out singles wins, setting the stage for Bayley Sheinin who was last on with the match tied at 4-4. After dropping a potential match-clinching second set, she recomposed herself, blocked out the pressure and battled to a 6-3 third-set victory, which resulted in the match for New England and players storming the court to congratulate her.
“I learned a ton about our team that first day,” Albrikes said.
New England finished 2-1 overall after falling to Middle States and beating Northern its final round robin match, 5-4. New England dropped both its playoff matches against Texas.
On the 16s side, New England went 2-1 in flight play, picking up wins against Pacific Northwest (6-3) and Northern (5-4). They opened the tournament going 2-0 but fell to eventual champions, Southern, in their final match of flight play. Southern went on to win both the 16s and 14s titles.
“From watching these players compete over the years and more recently at our New England Sectionals event at Yale the previous week, I knew I had a team of talented competitors. The team went into every match with the expectation of winning,” Crichlow said. “In today’s times of easily found information, it is easy to get caught up in ratings of opponents, rankings, and notable wins. Regardless of who was on the other side of the net, team New England played to win, and that’s all a coach can ask for.”
New England earned a spot in the 5th-8th place playoff flight where they lost to Intermountain and closed out the tournament with a 6-3 win over Texas.