New England

New England teams compete at

JTT Nationals 

James Maimonis, Manager, Media & Communications  |  November 21, 2019

SAN ANTONIO, TX- USTA New England Junior Team Tennis teams left their mark on the 2019 JTT Nationals. From winning “Best Banner” and taking home a Sportsmanship Award to nabbing three top-10 finishes, New England players seized the opportunity and made the most of their Nationals experience.


“Junior Team Tennis brings out the best in our players. The teamwork, camaraderie, creativity and sportsmanship on display when competing with and for one another is unparalleled,” said Jon Kostek, USTA New England Sr. Manager of Youth Play.


Four New England teams from the 18 and Under & 14 and Under divisions competed at the McFarlin Tennis Center in San Antonio, TX over two weekends in November (Nov. 8-10, 15-17).


Madrackets, from Madison Racquet Swim Club in Madison, CT, were the lone New England representatives in the 14U division, competing during the first weekend in 14U Intermediate. ADVERTISEMENT Despite reaching their sixth consecutive Nationals, this year’s journey was anything but easy.


The team, sporting an entirely new lineup with the exception of Elliott Booth, finished second at the Connecticut State Championships, failing to advance to Sectionals. When the winning team pulled out of Sectionals ahead of the event, Madrackets took their spot and filled in admirably. They went 5-0 in their flight and edged out Hampshire Hills by three games to claim the title.


At Nationals, the team played its heart out and hung in every match, earning a 10th-place finish.    


“I really did not know what to expect from this group, but every player gave their all and did what the coaches asked them to do,” said Coach Rick Fay. “The players handled themselves really well. Although a little nervous at times, the kids played with pride and fought to the last match.”


Madrackets went 1-2 in flight play and finished three games out of second place. As a result, they competed in the Cowboy Playoff, which determines places 9-12. The team defeated Hawaii in the playoff semifinals and lost to Middle States in the finals.


In addition, at the closing ceremony, the team won the award for best banner. Each team creates a banner ahead of Nationals that is representative of the team and its home region.


“The banner was amazing,” Fay said. “We have tried for that award for the last eight times going to nationals. We are pleased to represent New England and what tennis means to all of us in this area of the country.”


Madrackets featured Alexander Podoltsev, Antoinette Lowy, Elliott Booth, Jay Dusza, Laila Haraj-Sai, Mara Wolff, Margot Sack, Rohan Purohit, Samuel Levchenko and Teodor Bortan.

On the 18U side, New England sent three representatives, as opposed to two in previous years. Both Sectionals winners, Yellow Jackets (Advanced) and Croc Fever from Longfellow Nashua (Intermediate), hailed from New Hampshire. The third team, from Edgewood Pool and Tennis Club in Raynham, MA, advanced out of Sectionals via a national wildcard.


Yellow Jackets, coached by Jurgen Georgs, earned New England’s top finish of the tournament, coming in ninth place and winning the Cowboy Playoff.


Led by Jens Georgs and Carley Citron at boys’ and girls’ singles respectively, the squad finished 1-2 and tied the second-place team in the flight with a 7-8 position record. Georgs won both his singles matches in the playoff, while he and Citron won their mixed match in the semifinal.


“I am super proud that my team got to compete. It wasn't about personal wins and losses but about getting as many games as possible for the team,” Citron said. “Even though some of us may have lost our matches, the team as a whole beat the other team. This makes you feel good even though you may have personally lost a match.”


That team mentality translated to support off the court as well. Citron earned the Girls’ Sportsmanship Award in the Advanced division for her positivity towards her teammates and opponents alike.


“It was a really cool experience and it's very different from being at a normal tournament; now you have friends there to support you,” Citron said “I was so surprised and really honored to win the award since I was nominated by all the other teams. Our whole team was recognized as having really good sportsmanship, and I love to think that we represented New England pretty well.” 


The support didn’t stop there, as fellow New England teams came out in droves to watch each other’s matches.


“We would all go to watch each other,” Citron added. “I even remember being in a really close tiebreaker and the whole Croc Fever team came and supported me and cheered me on. We all support each other no matter what team we play for. This experience has only strengthened our bonds.”


The Yellow Jackets were made up of Carley Citron, Claire Reynolds, Jens Georgs, Joseph Maffa, Kai Georgs and Linda Kong.


In their second consecutive trip to Nationals, Croc Fever (formerly known as OOF), improved significantly on last year’s 16th-place finish. Led by first-year head coach, Nick Wagner, and last year’s player/coach, Zach Suozzo, the team was inspired from the onset. 


“Our coach Nick said it best prior to the first match,” recalled Croc Fever veteran, Liam Grennon. “He said, ‘this is an experience different from any we have ever had the opportunity to partake in. We are playing at the highest level of tennis, but we are playing for each other out there. Cherish this opportunity to look to the courts besides you and see your teammates.’ It really set the tone for the tournament, and I think that’s what we went out and did.”


Croc Fever finished third in their flight, going 1-2 overall with a 7-8 position score. The team won its Cowboy Playoff semifinal match against Caribbean and lost to Northern in the final to claim 10th overall.


“Honestly, our coach and first-year players stepped up more than we could have asked for,” Grennon added. “Last year, I was super nervous about letting the team down, not being the right guy for the position or just losing us the match. This year, it was easy to tell that the first years brought the intensity but still knew where we were and how we got here.”


Grennon, along with teammates Shu Grosso, Taylor Suozzo and Sigmund Winiecki, led Croc Fever with three position wins.


Amy Ryherd, Bohdan Higley, Grace Carpenter and Henry Winiecki rounded out the team.


Also making their second consecutive trip to Nationals was Edgewood, the lone Massachusetts representative. Edgewood placed 10th last year, and this year was without Alex Finkelstein, who went unbeaten at last year’s event, among others.


Edgewood finished fourth in their flight (0-3) but stormed back to win their next two matches to win the Lone Star Playoff and grab 13th place.


“We are so proud of our team and how they competed. Of course it is nice to win every match, but it is also important to play well,” said Edgewood player, Erin McCusker. “Our team didn’t come into the tournament with any expectations in our placement, we came in wanting to play our best in every match.”


Teammate Brooklyn Bindas added, “We were extremely lucky to get in as the wildcard team. Being that wildcard team, we appreciated this experience more than last year. We are just a little summer tennis and swim club in the woods with just four courts, so to be able to attend two years in a row was pretty special.” 


Edgewood was coached by Fil Miguel and featured Brooklyn Bindas, Erin McCusker, Benjamin Simmons, Callie Smith, Luke Nickerson, Nicholas Putney and Trevor Schwarzmann.


Texas notched three out of four overall titles, with Eastern taking the 14U Advanced division.


For complete Nationals results, click here.


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