Confidence is always an integral part of success in sports - it fuels the competitive drive of any team, and it is the ignition for adrenaline within each individual player.
However, as teams from around the United States prepare for the 18 and Under Junior Team Tennis National Championships in Surprise, Arizona, the experience of making it this far seems to be just as important to these teams.
"We have great teamwork and all of us have become much closer over the last few months from playing together," says Adam Blocher of Tennessee-Ott, winners of the 18U Intermediate Southern region. Blocher is one of three high school seniors on the team that has received a scholarship to play tennis in college. The other two are Jennifer Ott and Austin MacKay, who will both play for the Division II Carson-Newman Eagles in the Southern Athletic Conference next year.
The mutual feeling that seems to be shared by all of the teams heading into this year’s championships is that they are each capable of bringing home the title, but are really just happy to have made it this far.
"We have had consistency among our girl’s team all year and our boy’s team continues to be very strong," stated Jamil Qazi of the Pacific Northwest’s 18U Intermediate winners, WRAC Attack. "When we play, we’re always having fun," added teammate Hunter Sears.
No team may be more thrilled and excited to be in Surprise than the Smith Barney Strikers from Winter Park, Florida, winners of the Florida 18U Advanced section. The team overcame an array of adversity throughout the season, but through persistence and dedication won their section en route to representing Florida with one of the youngest teams in the tournament.
"We’ve been through quite a bit of adversity this year and we’re grateful just to be here," said team Co-Captain Pam Saffron. "We’ve been able to develop such a close relationship with each other outside of just tennis," added each of the players in a group statement.
There may not be a clear-cut winner as the 2010 Jr. Team Tennis National Championships kick off, but one thing is for sure – these players are in for an experience they will never forget.