Welcome, Class of 2013!
by Dallas Oliver, 4 September 2006
The first week of September. School is back in session, and the fall brings a whole new crop of sixth-graders. This week's rankings at the Tennis Recruiting Network are the first of the 2006-07 season - and they also mark the arrival of the Class of 2013.
The calendar at TennisRecruiting.net runs from September 1 through August 31. We calculated the final rankings for the outgoing seniors during the final week of August, and we bade farewell to the Class of 2006 last week.
This week, the first week of September, we welcome the new sixth graders from the Class of 2013. Tuesday and Wednesday's rankings are the first lists for the 2013 boys and girls, respectively.
This article takes a brief glance at some of the top youngsters in the Class of 2013. These kids have performed quite well in the 12s division - as well as the 14s and 16s.
Nick Wood (Knoxville, TN)
Tennessee native Nick Wood is one of the top sixth-graders in the Southeast - not to mention the nation. Wood posted Top 3 finishes in nine tournaments in 2005-06, with titles at three Southern tournaments.
© Douglas Wrege, TennisRecruiting.net
Even more impressive was his 15-4 record in national championship play. Wood got to enjoy the relative proximity of those championships, competing in the Southeast at the Spring Nationals
(Delray Beach, FL), Clay Courts
(Greensboro, NC), and Hard Courts
(N. Little Rock, AR).
"Nick is an intense competitor with a great work ethic," said his father, Donie Wood. "He is known for his speed and shot making. He is an aggressive baseliner and enjoys the net."
The 4'7" right-hander trains in Knoxville with Rob Cameron (Knoxville Racquet Club) and Martin Zumpf (Cedar Bluff Racquet Club). They are currently working on his transition game and serve.
Wood leads a normal - if structured - life. He is an avid athlete who has played basketball and baseball, and he enjoys golf.
"Nick is a very disciplined student. He gets straight As, and he understands the importance of education."
Wood is the son of Donie and Shari Wood. He has lived in Knoxville all his life, and he is a sixth grader at Sacred Heart Catholic School.
Connor Farren (Hillsborough, CA)
Another talented boy in the Class of 2013 is California native Connor Farren. Connor has played nearly one hundred matches during the 2005-06 season, with five titles during that stretch.
His two most recent tournaments were the Clay Courts
and Hard Courts
championships - tournaments where he ended up playing Nick Wood. Wood got the best of Farren this season, but there are plenty of opportunities for rematches in future championships.
Farren is a quick player who is always aggressive.
"Connor likes to attack," said his father, Mark Farren. "He loves to come in to net and volley, and he has a strong backhand."
Although Farren has played other sports, he has always been drawn to tennis.
"Connor has had a racquet in his hand since he started to walk at ten months. He would hit plastic balls from his baby ball pit for hours on end."
Farren's busy tennis schedule sometimes pulls him out of school, but he is able to maintain a grounded, grade-school life.
"Somehow, Connor manages to stay at the top of his class even though he consistently misses class. He will stay up late and get up early to finish homework. He has friends at school, but most of his closest friends play tennis as well. Middle School promises to present new scheduling challenges."
This fall, Farren will attend Crocker Middle School in Hillsborough, CA. Born in Redwood City, the California native now lives in Hillsborough with parents Mark and Jeannie. His father, Mark, played #1 singles on his college tennis team before playing on the ATP circuit and on the Irish Davis Cup Team. Mark now coaches a group of elite juniors in Northern California.
Amanda Lin (West Chester, OH)
One girl who has been tearing it up in the Midwest is Amanda Lin. Lin's 61-16 overall record includes strong showings - and three 2006 titles - in Midwest tournaments.
The 4'9" right-hander, who turned eleven earlier this year, posted winning records in all three national championships this year. In last month's Girls' 12s National Championships
, Lin reached the quarterfinals before falling to eventual champion Chanelle Van Nguyen
"Amanda's game at this point is a that of a baseliner - like most of the girls at her age," said her mother, Chin Lin. "However, she is very good at volleys. She and her doubles partner Ree-Ree Li won a silver ball at the Clay Courts and took fourth place at the Hard Courts."
Lin will be a sixth-grader at Adena Elementary School, where she is a straight-A student. Her mother says that she strikes a good balance between tennis and life.
"Amanda loves school - she is a quick and eager learner. She not only enjoys the academic challenge, but she also enjoys the social aspects. She does have a normal life - other than practicing tennis one to two hours a day. She missed only a couple of days of school for tennis last year."
Lin was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan. She is the daughter of RJ and Chin Lin, and the Lins live in suburban Cincinnati. Amanda works with Roland Lutz at the Riverside Athletic Club in Hamilton, OH.
Victoria Duval (Boca Raton, FL)
In her first year in the 12s division, Victoria Duval shined on its biggest stage - the Hard Court Championships in Lexington, Kentucky.
Duval reached the semifinals and finished fourth in the event, knocking off two Blue Chip seventh graders along the way. One of those wins was a straight-set victory over top-seeded Blair Shankle.
"Victoria had a great tournament," said her mother, Nadine Duval about the Championships. "Though towards the end, I felt she ran out of fuel. She took the whole week off as a well-deserved rest after we got home."
Early on, the elder Duval had other plans for her talented and athletic daughter.
"I personnally was wishing for a little ballerina. I got my wish for two years, but I had to surrender at age seven to her passion for tennis."
Duval had that passion fueled by the rest of her family. Older brothers Cedric (17) and Leonel (14) are tennis players who inspired their sister.
Duval is enrolled in the USTA Player Development Program and trains at the Key Biscayne Tennis Center with coach Jai Di Louie five days a week.
Academically, the 4'7" right-hander is a 6th grader with Florida Connections Academy - a virtual public school - which made the honor roll both semesters last year. She is the daughter of Jean Maurice and Nadine Duval.
I hope you have enjoyed our visit with some of the kids who will be the future of American tennis. We look forward to seeing the Class of 2013 on TennisRecruiting.net for years to come!
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