Most juniors are lucky to make it once to the USTA Jr. Team Tennis (JTT) National Championships. But this year, Eastern juniors from three teams – the JAMF Dropshots, the New York Junior Tennis League (NYJTL), and Basking Ridge -- will be returning to Nationals for a second shot at making history.
"It’s kind of cool again to come together and be as a team," said NYJTL player Marylen Santos. "And I’m really psyched that we got to Nationals."
Santos, along with three other members of the NYJTL team, will be traveling from college in October to compete again at JTT Nationals, after reaching 3rd place there in the 14 & Under Advanced division four years ago. The NYJTL players were among more than 200 kids from across the section who competed in the USTA Eastern JTT Championships June 16-17, 2012 at Central Park and Union College in Schenectady, NY.
In the 14 & Under Intermediate division, some members of the Basking Ridge team earned their second trip to the big dance, after finishing second at Nationals in 2010. One of those returning players, Claire Chen, said it was their bond as a team both on and off the court that led them to the title this year.
"We all know each other really well and we’re all good friends," said Chen. "We help each other when we need it."
After the first day of competition, the players, parents, and coaches gathered at the Albany Marriott for a party, where the kids enjoyed good food, dancing and a team banner contest. The winning banner – which featured a tiger biting a tennis ball – was designed by Aces Wild, the Western Region’s 14 & Under Intermediate team.
The party also featured a trophy presentation for the section’s 14 and 18 & Under Advanced teams. The Richmond Racquets of the Metro Region earned the 14 & Under Advanced title, even after facing some tough competition on Saturday.
"The last team we played, the northern Soups, was really good. Everyone was bigger than us," said Racquets 12-year-old player Sam Vagner. "And then I don’t know. We just kind of pulled it out."
The weekend concluded on Sunday afternoon with the Intermediate teams winning the Championships, and the presentation of the sportsmanship awards. J.P. Bremar of the JAMF Dropshots didn’t know what he did to win the award, but summed up what he believes is good sportsmanship.
"You make sure you shake your opponent’s hand, you have a good attitude on the court, and you’re not calling shots that are in, out," said Bremer. "If you can’t see it, it’s in."
12 & Under Intermediate
Champions: Top Shots (New Jersey)
Finalists: JAMF Strike Force (Southern)
Sportsmanship award: Alexandra Dinowitz and Jake Dubrow (Point Set - Long Island)
14 & Under Intermediate
Champions: Basking Ridge (New Jersey)
Finalists: JAMF Slicers (Southern)
Sportsmanship award: Connie Hou (Aces Wild - Western)
14 & Under Advanced
Champions: Richmond Racquets (Metro)
Finalists: Soups (Northern)
Sportsmanship award: Alexander Gemme (Rye Racquets - Southern)
18 & Under Intermediate
Champions: JAMF Dropshots (Southern)
Finalists: Warren Wombats (New Jersey)
Sportsmanship award: J.P. Bremar (JAMF Dropshots - Southern)
18 & Under Advanced
Champions: New York Junior Tennis League (Metro)
Finalists: Jr. NY Buzz (Northern)
Sportsmanship award: Carrianna Rose Voellm (Ballistics - Northern)
1st Place: Aces Wild (Western)
2nd Place: Maywood (New Jersey)
3rd Place: Hicksville Smash (Long Island)