New england Juniors Capture National Titles
James Maimonis, Communications and Engagement Coordinator | November 30, 2016
WESTBOROUGH, MA- New England juniors impressed over Thanksgiving weekend by earning four first-place victories at the prestigious L2 USTA National Selection Tournaments held at various sites across the country. Max Freeman, Sam Feldman and duos of Grace Joyce & Alexis Almy and Will Peters & Charlie Sharton each won their respective tournaments held between November 25-28.
Boys and girls in all age divisions (18s, 16s, 14s and 12s) earn both New England and national standings points from L2 tournaments. Each age division features four host locations conveniently dispersed geographically throughout the U.S., allowing players the option of selecting their tournament.
Singles draws feature 64 spots while doubles have 32.
Freeman, of Ashland, MA, headlined a New England-heavy field at Yale University’s Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center in West Haven, CT. ADVERTISEMENT The 2016 Boys’ 18s New England Sectional champion earned his first national tournament singles win in a field of 64 that featured 17 New Englanders.
“I’m really happy with the way the New England kids performed in the tournament. This is the best group of Boys’ 18s I’ve seen, and I haven’t seen this many New England players this highly ranked in a long time,” said Tournament Director Paul Gagliardi. “I’ve run a lot of tournaments and have been watching these kids develop over the years, so it’s nice to see them coming along and have success on national stage.”
Freeman was one of three New Englanders to reach the semifinals in the tournament. The other two, both of whom he beat, were good friends Will Peters (Duxbury, MA) and Matt Lord (Bloomfield, CT). Freeman faced four New Englanders in total and was also impressed by tremendous local showing.
“At times it felt like another New England tournament seeing so many guys around. This New England class is probably the best class in the country as far as depth goes, and it’s fun to see everyone do so well,” he said.
Freeman broke Lord just once during their semifinal match but held serve throughout to scrap to a 7-6(4), 6-4 victory. In the finals, Freeman faced a game Peters, who he said “was playing extremely well throughout the tournament and had a lot of momentum.” The two practice together once or twice a week, know each other’s game inside and out, and even warmed up together before the championship match.
“He’s one of my best friends. We know each other’s games pretty well so there isn’t really anything to hide,” Freeman said. “I for sure played my best match against him, which was great, because he would’ve beaten me if I wasn’t at my very best.”
Freeman outlasted Peters 6-1, 7-6(5).
Peters got his victory however in the 18s doubles, as he and partner Charlie Sharton, of Wayland, MA, dominated the bracket as the No. 2 seed. After earning a first-round bye, Peters and Sharton went on to take their next three matched by scores of 8-2, 8-3 and 8-2, setting up a finals showdown with a team from New York.
Peters and Sharton emerged victorious in their toughest test of the tournament, winning the match 8-6.
In addition to the successful play on the court, Gagliardi praised the sportsmanship of the New England Boys’ 18s class.
“The New England kids have great sportsmanship. There were very few issues at all with anyone, and especially with our kids, the sportsmanship stood out. Line calls were great and things were pretty quiet all around,” he said.
On the girls’ side, Grace Joyce (Newton, MA) and Alexis Almy (Southborough, MA) each stood out in the 18s division at the Lichtenberg Tennis Center at West Point, NY. The duo cruised to the doubles title, their second L2 championship in as many months, while they each reached the quarterfinals in singles action.
“I am very excited for another title with Grace. We work well together, and even when it’s tough, we help each other stay positive,” Almy said. “Our game style works well together for doubles by setting each other up at the net to finish points strong.”
Despite entering the tournament as the No. 5 seed, the girls played like the favorites from beginning to end. Joyce and Almy won their first three matches each by a score of 8-1, including a quarterfinal victory over the top seeded Anna Brylin (Short Hills, NJ) and Rachel Lim (Briarcliff Manor, NY).
They beat the number three ranked team from New Jersey in the semifinals, 8-4, and defeated another NY/NJ combo in the championship, 8-5.
“We train together a lot so I think that helps make us really comfortable with each other and our games on the court,” Joyce said. “We both really value playing doubles which makes playing together fun.”
Almy added, “Having the support of my coach, Danielle Orgles-Monteith, who surprised us and came to watch the finals, was fantastic and made me even more confident and pumped going into the match with Grace. She has made me realize my potential over the last year and has greatly improved my mental game and overall game style.”
Almy was also the top New England finisher in the singles draw, coming in sixth place. She lost in her quarterfinal match but won the playoff semifinal to earn a spot in the fifth/sixth-place match.
Nine New Englanders in all competed in the tournament.
Sam Feldman rounded off the New England title winners by taking home the championship at the Boys’ 14s tournament at Lifetime Tennis in Peachtree Corners, GA.
The No. 1 seeded Feldman, from Brookline, MA, failed to drop a set throughout the tournament. He rolled through the first three rounds, winning 6-2, 6-3; 6-1, 6-0; and 6-1, 6-1.
He went on to win his quarterfinal and semifinal matches 6-4, 6-3 and 6-3, 6-3 respectively, setting up a finals match with No. 3 seed, Benjamin Kittay from Potomac, MD. Feldman got the better of Kittay, winning 6-3, 6-4 and preserving his undefeated set streak.
Feldman also partnered with Kittay in doubles. They advanced all the way to the semifinals, but withdraw before they could play their match.
Feldman was one of seven New England boys and girls to compete in Peachtree Corners, GA.
Madeleine Swire, of Sudbury, MA reached the quarterfinals in the Girls’ 12s division as the No. 6 seed.
Tournament Director Phil Parrish ran the Boys’ 16s event at the Longfellow Club in Wayland, MA, New England’s largest representation at any site with 18 players. Nicholas Condos, of Wilton, CT, shined, earning fourth place overall in singles and taking home the Todd Morsilli Sportsmanship Award.
“It is an honor to run a the National Selection Tournaments where we have so many good players from all over the country. We really enjoy seeing the New England players and seeing how they have progressed since they first started playing tournaments here at Longfellow. It is great to see them develop and grow up into outstanding young men,” Parrish said.
Other notable finishers were:
Page Freeman, Ashland, MA, finished sixth in Girls’ 16s singles at Robbie Wagner's Tournament Training Center in Glen Cove, NY.
Tristan J. Stringer, Stamford, CT, semifinalist in Boys’ 12s doubles at Twos Athletic Club in Toledo, OH.
Ryan Nash, Sherborn, MA, quarterfinalist in Boys’ 12s singles at Twos Athletic Club, Toledo, OH.
New England players also competed in Dayton, OH as well as Montgomery, AL.
Select New England juniors will next compete in the Metropolia Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships at the Frank Veltri Tennis Center in Plantation, FL from December 5-11.