Lord Shines at Winter Nationals
James Maimonis, Communications and Engagement Coordinator | January 4, 2017
SCOTTSDALE & TUCSON, AZ- While most New Englanders were home for the holidays, top juniors were busy in Arizona competing for the highest national prize this winter. Thirty-nine New England juniors competed at the L1 USTA Winter National Championships in Scottsdale (18s & 16s) and Tucson (14s & 12s), AZ from December 27 until January 2.
Winter Nationals is the last of the three L1 individual tournaments each year, the highest level tournament for USTA Juniors. L1 tournaments award both regional and national standing points.
The New England Boys’ 18s division capped off its incredibly successful 2016 by taking home another top prize. The fifth seeded team of Matt Lord (Bloomfield, CT) and Max Freeman (Ashland, MA) earned the Silver Ball in the 64-team doubles field, their highest finish to date as a team. ADVERTISEMENT The duo reached the quarterfinals at both National Clay Courts and Winter Nationals in 2015, and were determined to surpass those results this time around.
Second place didn’t come easy for the longtime friends and partners however, as they were pushed to their limit multiple times throughout the tournament.
“We had a bit of a rough start in doubles with many close matches, but we were able to pull them off. We eventually figured ourselves out and what we needed to do to win comfortably, and being the aggressor definitely worked best for us this tournament,” Lord said.
After dropping their first set in the round of 16, Lord and Freeman fought back to win the match in three: 4-6, 6-4 14-12. Trouble arose again for the duo in the quarterfinals as they were pushed to another third set tiebreak, but they battled once more to win, 6-2, 3-6, 10-8.
The semifinal match pitted the New England team against a New York/New Jersey pair in Mac Kiger and Michael Sun, and this time, Lord and Freeman had no trouble coming away on top. They cruised in straight sets for the first time all tournament, winning 6-3, 6-3.
Lord and Freeman took the first set of the finals, but came up just short against the gritty seven seeded team of Christian Alshon (Boca Raton, FL) and Trey Hilderbrand (San Antonio, TX), 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-1.
Lord and Freeman each competed in the 18s singles draw as well, both posting impressive finishes in the 128-player field. Lord, the No. 8 seed, reached the quarterfinals and Freeman, the No. 4 seed, advanced to the round of 16.
Lord defeated fellow New Englander Ryan Fu in the round of 32 and Michigan’s Bill Duo in the round of 16 before falling to Jenson Brooksby (Carmichael, CA) in the quarterfinals. He reached the finals of the consolation bracket as well, but the match was not played due to scheduling conflicts.
Between singles and doubles, Lord played a total of 13 matches throughout the week, but still felt at the top of his game.
“I wasn’t really feeling many negative effects because of the work I put in before the tournament. I’m currently playing varsity basketball as well and that’s really helped me with the physical aspects of tennis,” Lord said.
Lord capped off his unforgettable performance by earning arguably the most meaningful prize, the division’s Sportsmanship Award.
“It means a lot to me because I feel like now I have a responsibility to keep that sportsmanship up,” he said. “My dad always says people are watching in whatever you do so you have to make a good impression. I do manage to be fair and play competitively at the same time, and that’s not hard to do if you have respect for the game and for your opponents.”
This is the second time in as many years that a New England player has taken home the award, as Olivia Almy (Southborough, MA) won last year in the Girls’ 12s.
New England also showcased Southington, CT resident, Richard Ciamarra. The No. 2 seed in the Boys' 18s won four matches to reach the quarterfinals, losing only to eventual runner-up, Virginia’s Robert Maciag.
Eight New England players from the Boys’ 18s competed at Winter Nationals, more than any other age division.
Four additional New England players also reached the round of 32 in singles play:
Will Peters (Duxbury, MA)- Boys’ 18s; Grace Joyce (Newton, MA)- Girls’ 18s; Nastasya Semenovski (Brookline, MA)- Girls’ 14s; Azariah Rusher (Amherst, NH)- Boys’ 12s.
Two more teams reached the round of 16 in their respective doubles draw:
Page Freeman (Ashland, MA) & Julia Newman ( Natick, MA)- Girls’ 16s; Olivia Almy (Southborough, MA) & Eleanor Schulson (Newburyport, MA)- Girls’ 14s.
The juniors will have little rest time, as they are back in L3 Super Six doubles action from January 14-15 and will compete in L3 National Tournaments the following weekend.