Competing at the 2010 JTT National Championships is a true honor and accomplishment for any team that attends. This year’s event, however, holds an even deeper meaning for the Southern Hills team from USTA Missouri Valley.
It has always been said that "experience comes with age" - but age, after all, is just a number.
"We have one of the youngest teams at the tournament this year with an average age of 11," said Coach Jill Powers. "This is our first time competing at Nationals and these kids have truly earned their spot here."
One of the tournaments youngest players, Graham Nelson (10), has been playing tennis for six years and has no doubt learned something from his older teammates. "It feels good to be the youngest player on the team," Nelson stated. "Everyone on the team helps me out and cheers me on." When asked about his favorite pro player Graham couldn’t decide, but he was certainly quick to show off his autographed John McEnroe hat.
"The kids have developed a great team camaraderie and work ethic," commented coach and Southern Hills Country Club Tennis Pro Jeremy Jack. "As soon as the kids found out that they would be competing at Nationals they put in extra workouts and practices. It really brought them closer together and proved to me how dedicated they are."
Bennett Hughes, one of the team’s oldest players, suffered a broken arm after flipping over his bike on the first day of summer. "I was in a cast and couldn’t play tennis for two months," Bennett said. "He wanted to make sure he was eligible for advancement so as soon as his arm healed he got back on the court and played in the last three games of the season," Jeremy commented. "That’s just one example of the dedication and heart this team has."
It may only be the second day of the tournament but this team has already made memories to last a lifetime.
"It’s really great to all be here together and experience this as a team," commented teammates Sarah Cameron and Alex Powers.
Teammates Elizabeth Nelson and Jeryn Jack are truly enjoying their first experience at Nationals.
"We have met a lot of other teams and they have all been so nice," Elizabeth noted.
"It’s fun to play with your friends because whenever you’re having trouble your teammates can help you out and pump you up," said Jeryn.
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