While the “big guns” were pounding it out in the Tuxedo Gold racquet, 17 “future stars” descended upon Washington for the 2010 Junior National Singles. Despite piles of snow, the kids were not even interested in venturing out as their focus was totally on tennis.
Ranging in age from 8-18, with some barely able to reach into the trough for balls and others towering over the adults, the juniors played through the weekend. Using a complex scoring system, each junior played numerous matches. With each additional match, the improvement was visible, showing the benefits of match time and coaching tips.
By Sunday, the field was narrowed down to five finals. Play started early with Paul Monaghan taking on Alex Rodzianko for the 18 & under division. Despite losing the first set 6/0, Monaghan came back and won 6/5 in the third! The 15 & under girl’s and boy’s were both decided in three sets, with Dana Kopald besting Caroline Lippincott and Jacob Mason defeating James Chamberlain. In the 12 & under, Justin Bartenbach defeated Gamble Freydberg in straight sets.
Thus, the stage was set to determine the Junior National Singles champion. Dylan Ward, a finalist for the past two years played Alex Rodzianko. Ward, a top ranked squash player, relied on his footwork and boasts, while Rodzianko, a more classical court tennis player, focused on placement and some sizzling straight forces for the dedans. It was a fantastic match, which Ward eventually won 6/4, 6/2, to claim his first national title.
All of the finals were some of the finest junior tennis in recent years, indicating that the focus on junior tennis is paying off. While junior weekends can be exhausting for both the professionals and organizers, the reward is seeing the improvement of the players in a just a few short days. The kids are eager to learn and listen to what they are being told. Playing each other in a junior-only setting pushes them to set their own personal playing goals.
In addition to on court activities, there was plenty to do off the court, allowing the kids to bond as a team. Wii Tennis, ping-pong, squash and racquetball all managed to work their way into the weekend. On Saturday night, the group, adults and kids, headed to the bowling alley. Rest assured that no one will be choosing bowling over tennis, as the bowling alley manager noted that the group, as a whole, broke the record for the most amount of gutter balls!
In summary, the weekend was a great success. With every junior weekend, the goals should be to improve the level of play and build camaraderie between the juniors. Those goals were accomplished! Each player left with a sense of belonging to a group and an action plan for the coming year. I am confident that each player will meet and/or exceed their personal goals!