News & Features
First USTA Team Champions Crowned in Mobile
by Colette Lewis
, 21 March 2014
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128 boys and 128 girls arrived for competition last week in Mobile, Alabama, and each left with seven new friends - their teammates - when the USTA's first Spring Team Championships were complete.
The Mobile Azalea Trail Maids high five the competitors
Two 12s, two 14s, two 16s and two 18s division players, selected by ranking for competitive balance, were placed on each of the 32 teams - 16 boys teams and 16 girls teams. A compass draw ensured four singles and four doubles matches for every player, and teams posting three victories advanced to the finals, where a USTA gold ball served as the ultimate prize.
The first two days of the tournament were devoted to practice and getting to know each other and their team's coach. Most of the coaches selected by the USTA have links to its Regional Training Centers or camps, but most had no previous connection with any of the players on their teams.
Prior to the start of the tournament, USTA Lead National Coach Tom Gullikson spoke to the players, as did USTA Director of Junior Competition Lew Brewer. The theme of their talks was sportsmanship, and Brewer called on Jessie Aney, the No. 1 18 player for the Tornados team, to read the Junior Player Promise, which the USTA is introducing as part of the junior tournament experience this year.
Tournament directors Lorraine and Scott Novak provided an array of activities for the players, including Root Beer Float and Smoothie stations, a game room at the Marriott, the tournament hotel, and a well-attended ping-pong tournament. The Mobile Azalea Trail Maids made an appearance at the Copeland-Cox Tennis Center and began a tradition of giving high fives for good luck to all the players. A food court, featuring five or six free lunch options for players, coaches and parents, was extremely popular; only a nearly full day of rain on the tournament's second day marred the proceedings.
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