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Championship Week
Stingrays, Rams Claim USTA National Spring Team Championships

The USTA National Spring Team Championships at the Mobile Tennis Center had been plagued by rain in the first two years of its existence, but last week, with an adjustment to the schedule, every match in the 32-team tournament was played to completion, with the Stingrays capturing the girls title and the Rams collecting the boys title.

The Stingrays captured the Girls' Championship
© ZooTennis.com
With the possibility of rain late in the tournament, one of the two days designated for practice was used to play the first round instead. The evening of the first practice day, a banquet for parents, players and coaches was held at the downtown Renaissance Hotel to serve as a getting-acquainted event. Over 350 people attended this event, a first for the tournament, enjoying the food, music, big screen team introductions and draw ceremony.

Each team, consisting of two 12s, two 14s, two 16s and two 18s division players, was selected by ranking for competitive balance and assigned a coach, many of whom were participating for a third straight year.

After three rain-free days of competition at the 60-court Mobile municipal complex, the compass draw produced the four finalists, with the Stingrays facing the Sharks in the girls championship match and the Rams meeting the Panthers in the boys championship match.

The Stingrays had advanced without needing the doubles Super Tiebreaker that decided any match tied at 6, while the Sharks had survived one such nail-biter in the quarterfinals against the Angels.

Six matches - both 12s and 14s singles and the 16s and 18s doubles - start off each match, with the 16s and 18s singles and 12s and 14s doubles taking the courts as the first six finish.

In the final, played on a windy, overcast day, the Stingrays were up 4-2 when the first round of matches were completed, getting wins from Santianna Chrysopoulo and Kayleigh Yun-Thayer in the 12s, Sasha Wood in 14s and the 16s doubles, while the Sharks took the 18s doubles and got a win from Kiana Graham in 14s.

Irish recruit Cameron Corse clinched for the Stingrays
© ZooTennis.com
The Sharks closed the gap with a win by Peyton Pesavento in the 18s, but the 12s and 14s doubles went to the Stingrays to give them a tie-clinching six points.

The Sharks needed to win the final three singles matches on court, and they got one, with Ana Elhom defeating Shelly Yaloz 1-6, 6-3, 6-1 at the 16s No. 2 position, while the Sharks' Emilee Duong earned a split in her match with Jasmin Tripathy at the 16s No. 1 position. Cameron Corse, the Stingrays 18s No. 1, put an end to the hopes of the Sharks however, winning the final five games of her match with Priya Niezgoda in exceptionally challenging conditions. The 17-year-old from Baltimore somehow managed to hit a perfect lob on match point, despite winds gusting over 30 mph, to earn a 7-5, 3-6, 6-4 victory.

Down 4-1 in the third set of her match, Corse asked her teammates for the score, and when they told her they needed just one more point, she refocused.

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Page updated on Monday, March 15, 2021
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