Top Juniors Reflect on USTA New England Careers as They Continue on to College
James Maimonis, Communications and Engagement Coordinator | January 25, 2017
WESTBOROUGH, MA- Junior tournament tennis plays such an integral role in the lives of aspiring New England players every year. From making lifelong friends and creating unforgettable memories to learning valuable lessons to apply in the real world, junior tennis has a positive effect on nearly every player who participates.
Juniors tournament players have the opportunity to show off their talents and improve their skills through a variety of sanctioned tournaments, ranging from L6 & L7 beginner and intermediate tournaments to L1 advanced national tournaments. USTA New England offers a variety of non-sanctioned events as well.
More than 1,000 active players participate in New England junior tournaments every year. Few will go on to play professionally, some will continue on to play in college, and many will enjoy playing recreationally, but regardless of their end goal, each player will have the value of sportsmanship instilled in them by the time they leave the junior ranks. ADVERTISEMENT
The 2017 USTA New England 18s division has a number of players who will be continuing their tennis careers this coming fall in college.
“Junior tournaments provide young players with the opportunity to learn how to deal with challenges, how to be self sufficient and how to compete fairly,” said David Zeutas-Broer, USTA New England Player Development Manager. “I have had the pleasure of watching these junior players rise through the ranks of USTA both in New England and nationally, and not only have they grown as players, but in character as well, and I think the USTA junior system has prepared them well for the highest levels of collegiate competition and life beyond.”
USTA New England couldn’t be more proud to send off its remarkable Class of 2017!
Below are the top tournament players from the Boys’ and Girls’ 18s division who have committed to playing collegiate tennis next year. They are listed by their USTA New England standings.
Boys’ No. 1- Max Freeman, Vanderbilt University
Max has played USTA New England tournaments since he was eight years old and is a two-time Sectional champion. In addition to competing, he has enjoyed the long car rides with his family talking about tennis.
“USTA New England tournaments have been a big part of my childhood. I have learned many lessons on court that have helped me become a better person in all aspects of life.”
Max will be playing at Vanderbilt University this coming fall.
“Both coaches have been there (Vanderbilt) for a long time and I really connected with them as well as the rest of the guys on the team. I was also intrigued by the academics as well as the fun city and the weather.”
Max is currently ranked No. 13 in the USTA National Standings.
Boys’ No. 2- Richard Ciamarra, University of Notre Dame
Richard has truly appreciated his time in USTA New England. He has made lifelong friends, honed his craft and learned valuable lessons.
“USTA New England allowed me to make friends all over the section. The kids that I have met will be my friends for life and I only have USTA New England to thank for that. It helped me improve as a person by allowing me to go through the up and downs of life and learning how to get through them.”
Richard has accomplished so much during his junior career, including winning singles and doubles titles at the L2 national tournament in February 2016. He is a former No. 1 player both nationally and in New England and is a Sportsmanship Award winner. But the moment that sticks out most for Richard, is when he won his first Summer Sectionals singles title in 2015.
Richard will be continuing his tennis career this fall at Notre Dame.
“The thing that stood out most in Notre Dame was the fact that there is a perfect balance between academics, social life and athletics. I wanted to play at Notre Dame for two main reasons: the coaches and the team. The Notre Dame coaches are some of the finest people I have ever met and I was able to make a quick connection with them. I recognized that they support everyone no matter what the outcome is and that's what truly matters. As for the teammates, they are caring, loving, and most importantly, nice people. Since the first time I met them, I quickly recognized that I could see these people being my family and that was very important to me in my decision making process.”
Boys’ No. 3- Matt Lord, University of Virginia
Matt has many great memories from his USTA New England career, but his favorite was traveling to Illinois for the Davis Cup with the New England team. His best on-court memory was when he won the Nike tournament in the 12s division.
“USTA New England is a huge part of my childhood. Going to tournaments on weekends battling out with my friends really helped me become a more disciplined person on and off the court.”
Matt chose the University of Virginia because it has one of the top academic and tennis programs in the country.
Boys’ No. 4- Peter Conklin, Dartmouth College
Peter has accomplished many things during his time competing, including being a multiple time Sectional doubles winner and being named to the USTA Junior Leadership Team in 2016.
He will be attending Dartmouth College in the fall, and is looking forward to the great coaches and great team he will be competing for.
Boys’ No. 8- Charlie Sharton, Georgetown University
Growing up playing USTA New England tournaments was a family affair for Charlie Sharton, who played in many of the same tournaments as his older brother. Tennis is a joy for Charlie and has also taught him to get through tough times.
“Playing tournaments twice a month and having many friends on the circuit has been great. Tennis taught me many things about myself. I learned how to have confidence in myself, learned how to handle adversity and learned how to bounce back from disappointments.”
He has had success too, winning the New England 16s Sectional championship and reaching the finals (Silver Ball) at 2015 Winter Nationals in the 16s division after winning his semifinal match in a third-set tiebreak. Charlie also won the New England Sportsmanship Award when competing in the 12 and Under division at Zonals.
Charlie will be attending Georgetown University in the fall.
“I was looking for a Division I school that had a combination of great academics and good tennis. My older brother, Will, is a sophomore at Georgetown, so the prospect of going to school and playing on the team with him was also a big plus.”
Boys’ No. 10- Benjamin Collier, Brown University
Boys’ No. 13- Clayton Thompson, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Boys’ No. 27- Sumukh Pathi, Colby College
Boys’ No. 29- Ray Boppana, Carnegie Mellon University
Ray has worked extremely hard throughout his time playing New England tournaments, and he will be continuing on to Carnegie Mellon in the fall.
“USTA New England represents the opportunity to excel. Given hard work and vision, USTANE was able to expand my horizons and believe in the power of patience.”
“The academic caliber and athletic drive of Carnegie Mellon created the ambitious environment which attracted me to the school.”
Ray’s best memory from USTA New England is winning his first L6 tournament in the 12s age group. Since then, he is a four-time L4 finalist and reached the quarters of an L2 national tournament in 2012.
Girls’ No. 4- Caroline Dunleavy, University of Notre Dame
Caroline has succeeded in every division of USTA New England. She is a former No. 1 player in 18s, 16s and 12s and has excelled on the national stage as well. She was a finalist at New England Sectionals in 2015 in the 18s division and has recorded multiple second and third-place finishes in National Selection Tournaments.
Through her success, Caroline has also had the opportunity to compete in a number of team events, including Zonals, Intersectionals and 18s Nationals.
“Since I was nine years old, USTA New England has been a major part of my life, and I have been so privileged to have represented USTA New England on so many different occasions. I've made so many amazing friends while competing in USTA New England and I've learned so many lessons about sportsmanship and competing.”
“My best memory from USTA New England is reaching the semi-finals of the 18s USTA National Team Championships in 2015 with Team New England in Claremont, CA. This is my favorite memory because I grew up competing and practicing alongside each girl on the team and it was amazing to come together as a team and reach the semifinals of one of the USTA's most prestigious junior tournaments. We have all pushed each other to become better players since we were 12 years old, and it was an amazing experience to be a team and do so well together.”
Caroline will be paying her college tennis at Notre Dame this fall.
“Notre Dame has the perfect balance between academics and tennis for me, and I really feel that I fit in with the team and the coaches. All of the players on the team are incredibly hard working and have great aspirations in tennis, and I feel that I can improve the most there while competing in the ACC. Athletics have always played a great role in my life, and I am so excited to become a part of Notre Dame's athletic program and community.”
Girls’ No. 13- Cayla Koch, Bucknell University
Cayla has been playing USTA New England tournaments since she was nine, and through them, she has gained invaluable experiences.
“USTA New England has been a big part of my life since starting to play tournaments. They provided me a forum where I could challenge myself in tournament play and improve as a player. USTANE helped shape my personality of being independent and confident. Ultimately it provided me an opportunity to attend a great college and continue my tennis.”
Cayla will be attending Bucknell in the fall.
“Bucknell's academic excellence and the opportunity of continuing my tennis while being challenged at a D1 program was important to me. My connection with the head coach and future teammates who are great made the decision easy.”
Some of Cayla’s best memories in USTA New England are from playing on Zonals teams. She says the combination of great competition, being part of a special team, making friends, the travel, laughs and off the court activities, are what really made those experiences stand out.
Cayla was a semifinalist at New England Sectionals in the 16s division in 2015 as well as an L5 tournament champion the same year.
Girls’ No. 15- Lexi DeNucci, Villanova University
Lexi has been a top high school tennis player for years while also maintaining her impressive USTA New England ranking. She earned Player of the Year honors in 2015 and 2016 from the Hartford Courant, thanks largely in part to her two trips to the CT State Championship (won in 2016), and was also a finalist at 2015 New England Sectionals.
Lexi also won Zonals with her team in 2012, which she says are some of her best memories.
“USTA has been apart of my life since I was 8 years old and has taught me how to compete while still having fun and making friends along the way. My favorite events were the Zonal team championships, which have allowed the players of New England to compete with each other instead of against each other for one week each year.”
Lexi will be playing at Villanova this fall, thanks largely in part to the great coach and welcoming members of the team.
Girls’ No. 18- Reagan Posorske, Boston College
Girls’ No. 25- Kateri Martin, Loyola University Maryland
Kateri has also done a tremendous job balancing high school tennis with USTA New England tournaments, and she’s had plenty of success on both fronts. She is a two-time CT State Open Champion for high school tennis and earned the opportunity to compete for New England at the 18s USTA National Team Tournament during the summer of 2016. The team took home the Sportsmanship Award.
“The team tournaments always seem to be the most rewarding. I got to spend the week with the girls that I had been playing with since the 12s. It's just such a different experience cheering on a teammate during the final match before clinching the win than it is at other tournaments.”
Some of Kateri’s best experiences form junior tennis have been the people she’s met and friends she’s made along the way.
“USTA New England has been a huge part of my life as a junior tennis player. There always seemed to be tournaments to compete in and other juniors to train with. New England definitely stands out from the other sections as closer group of players. I've been lucky enough to meet some of my best friends through this sport and competing against them, though at times difficult, has only helped me realize that a person's character is just as important on the court as off.”
Kateri will be playing tennis at Loyola Maryland this fall.
“Loyola had been a school I was interested in since I started thinking about playing collegiate tennis. Once I got on campus, everything seemed to make sense. I met Coach McClure, who was so experienced and ran a great program rooted from work ethic. He took me on a tour of the athletic facilities, introduced me to the team, and I knew that was where I wanted to continue my tennis and studies.”
Girls’ No. 28- Peri Sheinin, Brown University
Girls’ No. 33- Izzy Essi, Bowdoin College
Izzy has been competing in USTA New England since she was eight and has had many notable accomplishments. She has represented New England on Zonals teams in the 16s, 14s and 12s divisions, took home a Sportsmanship Award and won the New England Sectional doubles title in the 12s.
“I played my first USTA tournament at Nashua Swim and Tennis, and as I continue to play at the age of eighteen, USTA New England and the sport have kept me focused to achieve my goals in life.”
Izzy will be attending Bowdoin in the fall, where she will be entering a top-notch academic program and joining a DIII team that reached the national semifinals in 2016.
Thanks to all of our great juniors for responding to the brief questionnaire to contribute to this article.
*All standings are based on the January, 19, 2017 New England Standing List (Combined)