The Austin Tennis Academy Junior Team Tennis teams competed in the State tournament this past weekend in San Antonio, with the 18s Dream Team taking the State title for the second straight year, and the 14s Dream Team securing second place.
“The 18s Dream Team came away with an exciting, close victory,” Coach Kendall Brooks said.
The tournament pits 7 teams in a round robin format, where the team with the most games overall earns the title. This format is significantly different from USTA tennis, where athletes compete individually.
“JTT is a great experience because it takes an individual sport and turns it into a team sport,” Andrew Parks said. “I felt that when I was playing I focused on what I was doing in order to win for the team. The team is the most important part because in order to advance the TEAM has to win the most games. The team atmosphere for me was the most fun I have ever had on a tennis court. In USTA we do not always get the opportunity to play mixed doubles, and I was fortunate to get the opportunity to play mixed.”
The 18s Dream Team opened play with a 20-24 loss to a solid San Antonio squad.
“This immediately put our backs against the wall,” Brooks said. “Our goal after that match was to make sure we got all 30 games in each of our next 5 matches to put us in a position to possibly have more games than SA if they slipped up against another team- tough task.”
The team managed to earn all 30 games in 4 of the 5 matches, and 29 in games in the 5th. This put them within 5 games of the San Antonio team, with two rounds to go. The San Antonio team slipped slightly, losing 2 key matches to give ATA the lead by 1 game going into the final round, where they closed it out by winning all 5 matches.
"I was very proud of the way our team bounced back after a rocky start and took control of what we had to do for the rest of the weekend to control our own destiny. They deserved to win- and everyone played their role to contribute to our success and give us a chance to go to Nationals once again,” Brooks said.
Coach Kendall said the highlights of the weekend were Brooke Hughes winning the Sportsmanship award and going 11-0 on the weekend; Liam Leddy and Landon Weiss going 6-0 on the weekend; Andrew Parks doubled up in EVERY match only losing 1 set all weekend, 11-1. Meredith Parks, Mikaela Pope, and Allie Carlisle all got big wins in girls doubles.
Brooke Hughes expressed the goal going forward that was echoed by all members of the team.
“Definitely the goal is to win Nationals this year. We won the title two years ago and last year we came in 2nd so there will is no doubt we will be fighting to take back the title this year and bring it back to ATA!!!”
18 and Under Dream Team who participated: Brooke Hughes, Meredith Parks, Mikaela Pope, Allie Carlisle, Andrew Parks, Liam Leddy, Landon Weiss
When asked how it feels to be a state champion, this is how a couple members of the team responded:
“To be a state champ is a great thing for myself, the Dream Team, and ATA. I am very excited for the team and I am very appreciative to be a part of it. Obviously the next goal is to win the National Championships in Surprise, Arizona, and we absolutely have the team to achieve that.,” Andrew Parks said.
“We had our work cut out for us this year at State for sure. We had some really big shoes to fill with all the Seniors we lost from last year (Jeff, Taylor, Aaron, Hailee) but EVERYBODY stepped up this weekend in someway to pull us through. JTT States and Nationals are hands down the most fun tournament weekends of the year. It is amazing to get to rep for ATA as a team as well as for Texas at Nationals in October. I don't think anyone will be "surprised" to see us back in Surprise, AZ in October. Lets do thisssss!!!!” Brooke Hughes said.
The 14s Dream Team, coached by Brian Notis, lost early in the round robin to a very strong Ft. Worth team that went on to win the event. The team continued to battle throughout the event, eventually earning second place.
“Second place came down the wire in our final match against San Antonio,” Coach Notis said. “Meghan O'Malley and Tyler Wilkie both stepped up and got us the games we needed. The Dream Team can now only hope for a wildcard opportunity to advance to nationals. Either way, ATA will be back ready for next season's JTT season.”
14's Dream Team players: Ali Young, Meghan O'Malley, Molly Fisher, Payton Holden, Tyler Wilkie, Erik Kerrigan, Jake Berber