Junior Team Tennis tournament coming to Hampden County

By Rick Sobey

Staff Intern

The path to the future U.S. Open, French Open, Australian Open and Wimbledon champions could possibly be going straight through the tennis courts at Springfield's Forest Park and Longmeadow High School.

During this summer, the foundation for the next Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Pete Sampras or Andre Agassi might be built on these local tennis courts as the United States Tennis Association (USTA) of New England has decided to move the Junior Team Tennis Sectional Championships to these two locations in Western Massachusetts.

The event has been in Hartford, Conn., for the past few years, but USTA New England believed that switching the venue to Western Massachusetts would be a positive change.

"We're very thankful to be holding the Jr. Team Tennis Sectional in Western Mass.," Deirdre Tindall, USTA New England's Community Tennis Director, said. "It's an area that has a storied history of strong tennis players, teams and fans.

"Forest Park and Longmeadow High School are top-notch facilities and we're proud to welcome tennis players and their parents from all over New England to both," she continued.

In addition, USTA New England thought that the location of Springfield and Longmeadow would be closer to participants than last year in Hartford. The organization said that it would be easier for them to attend the event.

"Western Mass. is much more centrally located than Hartford when it comes to the New England region," Jon Kostek, USTA New England's contact for Jr. Team Tennis in Western Mass., said. "We also wanted a change of scenery, and we felt that this area could handle the large and popular event."

USTA New England expects the Western Mass. venues to draw in excess of 300 players, as well as several coaches and parents to the area on Aug. 19 and 20.

Jr. Team Tennis is a multi-week program of team practice and match play for boys and girls from the ages six to 18. Teams are made up of athletes of similar age and skill, and they will compete against teams from the same geographic region in one of the four league divisions.

There is a 10 and under division, 12 and under division, 14 and under division, and 18 and under division. The team who is able to conquer their specific age division at the summer tournament will then have the opportunity to participate in the National Championships in Mobile, Ala.

Kostek believes that this upcoming tournament will be an excellent and memorable experience for the players.

"It's a great opportunity for the kids," Kostek said. "The matches are fun and competitive, and the atmosphere of the tournament is great."

For more information on the USTA Jr. Team Tennis Sectional Championships in Western Mass., log on to www.ustanewengland.com.

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