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New England

New England Tennis Center Sends

JTT Team To Nationals 

James Maimonis, Communications and Engagement Coordinator  |  October 27, 2018
<h2>New England Tennis Center Sends </h2>
<h1>JTT Team To Nationals </h1>
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LANCASTER, MA- In its first year as an established Junior Team Tennis (JTT) program, the 14U Intermediate team from the New England Tennis Center (NETC) is heading to Nationals. The team, which plays out of Orchard Hills Athletic Club in Lancaster, MA, WestFit in Westford, MA and outdoors at Quail Ridge Country Club in Acton, MA, began as a fun way to get club players involved in a team environment and turned into what hopes to be the trip of a lifetime. 

 

“The whole thing was exciting. When we first started the team, I joked about playing some tennis and going to Orlando for Nationals with no intention of actually winning our own league, and we were able to win it,” said coach and New England Tennis Center pro Ryan Holmes. “The excitement has gone on. They’re confident now, they kind of strut, and they know they’re going to a National event.” 

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The NETC team is comprised of seven tournament players who all attend different schools but have grown up training and playing tennis together. They also attend a summer tennis camp together at Amherst College. 

 

“This team is special is special because this was the only opportunity they would have to play together and do well before most of them age out of the 14s. This is their last chance to come together and play as a team, and it worked out very well,” Holmes said.

 

The trip to the JTT National Championships at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, FL from November 1-3 will be the first Nationals experience for each player. Although fairly confident, Holmes has no expectations for his team’s performance in Orlando.  

 

“The only expectation I have is that we get to be in Orlando and avoid New England weather. We know there are some teams we can absolutely beat, and we know there are some extremely challenging teams as well. We want to go out and have fun with it. Nationals is like icing on the cake. We don’t expect to necessarily win, but we won’t be surprised if we did,” Holmes said  

 

Thanks to the immediate success of the 14U team, Holmes said the interest to play JTT at the club has skyrocketed. The opportunities for another 14U team next year will be there, and the possibility of this group jumping up to the 18U division is also strong. 

 

“This is big for the club. We have a lot of players, but having a team like this, going out and winning Sectionals, is huge. We’ve had people call us that met us at Sectionals and asked about opportunities for their kids to come join the club as well as so many other parents,” Holmes said. “As we continue with JTT, we hope to have a 12U team, 10U, 14s and 18s. The amount of people that saw the success this team had and hope to replicate it has been way more than we expected.”

New England Tennis Center’s Road To Nationals

 

 

NETC surely had to earn their way out of New England. The team went 3-1 overall at Sectionals and held off the second-place finisher, undefeated Norwalk Elite, of Norwalk, CT, by a single game. NETC fell to Norwalk Elite in their lone head-to-head matchup, 31-26, but built up just a strong enough lead to fend off their unrelenting Connecticut opponents. Wins for NETC included scores of 39-13 over Essex Edge, 40-7 against Hampshire Hills and 37-11 vs. North Hampton.

 

“The competition was extremely tough and we played well enough when we needed to. We played well in important situations to take the title,” Holmes said. “Being our first year even having a JTT program at the club, it says a ton about how committed and excited these kids were to play. We know it meant a lot to them and they were nervous, so it was very special and we were fortunate to come out with one more game than the other team.”

 

Meet the team from the New England Tennis Center

 

Ben Grace, 14, Concord, MA

 

Favorite Tennis Player- John Isner

 

Years playing tennis- 8

 

Years playing JTT- 1. It’s really fun. I don’t see these guys in school, only here.

 

Best part about playing JTT- Just being able to compete with these guys because USTA tournament are more for yourself, so competing together is really fun. 

 

How would you describe your style of play? Aggressive baseline. I stay back but like to come in the net a lot. There’s nothing that I won’t do, so I like to change it up. 

 

What is something most people don’t know about you? I love to bake. Cookies are my go to. 

 

What makes this team to special or unique? We’re all very close so it’s always fun. We don’t get mad when someone makes a mistake, we try and be encouraging. 

 

What are you most looking forward to at Nationals? It’s in Florida so it’s fun to get away. Plus, I get to meet kids from other states to play that you haven’t before. 

 

Kristen Su, 14, Westford, MA 

 

Favorite Tennis Player- Alexander Zverev

 

Years playing tennis- 7

 

Years playing JTT- 1

 

Best part about JTT- Team bonding. I’ve never really played with a team before. It’s always been every player fends for themselves, whether singles or doubles. Just having people with you, cheering you on, it a great part of JTT.  

 

How would you describe your style of play? I think I’m more of a baseliner. I need to work on my net play a bit more. 

 

What is something most people don’t know about you? I like to read and write short stories, and I’d love to go into journalism some day. 

 

What are you most looking forward to at Nationals? I’m looking to have a good time. I know there will be a lot of good teams out there, so I’m hoping to sharpen my skills, see what my opponents are like 

 

Stone Shen, 14, Acton, MA

 

Favorite Tennis Player- Novak Djokovic

 

Years playing tennis- 4 

 

Years playing JTT- 1

 

Best part about JTT- Playing the matches. Tennis, you’re usually alone on the court, and with the team cheering you on, that really encourages you to do better. 

 

How would you describe your style of play? I like to grind out the point, and I’m pretty good at the net. I try to serve and volley sometimes as well. 

 

What is something most people don’t know about you? My parents named me because they looked outside and named me the first thing they saw. 

 

What makes this team to special or unique? We all knew each other from tennis when we were little. So even though this is our first year all together, we’ve been playing and training together our whole careers. 

 

What are you most looking forward to at Nationals? I’m trying to improve. See where I’m doing well and where I can do better. Also, I want to see how people form other regions play. Being here in New England, I’m not really getting diversity in my opponents. 

 

Emma Hakala, 14, Bolton, MA

 

Favorite Tennis Player- Roger Federer 

 

Years playing tennis-8

 

Years playing JTT- 1

 

Best part about JTT- I like that we support each other as a team and come together, and if one of us loses, its okay because we have each other to back us up. That’s not something you experience when you play by yourself. It’s nice to be on this side of it. 

 

How would you describe your style of play? I feel I hit more with power instead of working the ball with my hands. I’m also not the most aggressive person. I like to go for the percentages.  

 

What is something most people don’t know about you? I’m a certified scuba diver. I usually dive in the Cayman Islands. 

 

What makes this team to special or unique? I’ve known these people for a good part of my life. It’s fun to see what we can do together instead of by ourselves. 

 

What are you most looking forward to at Nationals? I’m really excited to see how other people around the country hit and play. I’m used to the same faces and how people here play, and I think you need to see other styles as well. 

 

Grace Versaggi, 14, Carlisle, MA

 

Favorite Tennis Player- Rafael Nadal

 

Years playing tennis- 6

 

Years playing JTT- 1

 

Best part about JTT- Best part is just being a team and tennis not being an individual sport anymore. I like that everything we do affects our team and everything the team does affects us.  

 

How would you describe your style of play? My forehand is one of my better shots, but I think it depends on the match and who I’m playing against. I think I can adjust pretty easily. 

 

What is something most people don’t know about you? I like playing field hockey.

 

What makes this team to special or unique? I think how much we’ve accomplished so far. I never thought we’d be able to go to Florida after all this. I though tin the back of my mind that it could happen one day, but I think that’s our biggest accomplishment winning at Sectionals by one game. 

 

What are you most looking forward to at Nationals? I’m hoping to gain more experience playing other types of players because I’ve only played here in New England an I typically play the same players. I’m looking forward to learning form all the different styles of play out there. 

 

Kennedy Alexis, 14, Westminster, MA

 

Favorite Tennis Player- Novak Djokovic because he moves so great on the court. 

 

Years playing tennis-7

 

Years playing JTT- 1

 

Best part about JTT- All the sportsmanship and how our team loves to compete. I haven’t really been on a team before and this was super fun. 

 

How would you describe your style of play? I’m mostly aggressive, but when I’m pushed into a different position, I apply other strategies. 

 

What is something most people don’t know about you? I love drawing and making crafts with people and also helping out younger children. Whether at school or anywhere else, I like helping other people. 

 

What makes this team to special or unique? Our sportsmanship and how we’re so unified as a team. We love competing and doing everything together. Besides tennis we like hanging out on our own, and that’s super fun. 

 

What are you most looking forward to at Nationals? I really want to learn some new techniques form the people I’m playing against and see how other people play. 

 

Connor Liona, 13, Westford, MA

 

Favorite Tennis Player- Rafael Nadal

 

Years playing tennis- 7

 

Years playing JTT- 1

 

Best part about JTT- I like how tennis in an individual sport but you can still be on a team with other people. 

 

How would you describe your style of play? I’m a pretty aggressive player. I like to serve big and stay back on the baseline a lit. 

 

What is something most people don’t know about you? I can wiggle both ears simultaneously. 

 

What makes this team to special or unique? I think it’s that there isn’t really a weak link on our team. We all are really strong players and there’s no weak link we have to cover for. 

 

What are you most looking forward to at Nationals? I’ve never played someone from out of New England so it’s be nice to play other people from different regions. I’ve heard that the campus down there is really nice, so I’m excited to go to Florida. 

 

 

 

 

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