Last week I had the opportunity to spend a day up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, at a very unique junior tennis event: the DecoTurf High School Tennis Team Championships. Created by Brandon Feusner and run by Brandon and his wife, Nikki, since 2007, this event has grown to over 60 teams representing 14 states around the US. It moved from Kentucky to Tennessee two years ago, and with the incredible volunteer support it receives from the local tennis community, Brandon doesn’t see it leaving Chattanooga any time soon!
I hope you’ll listen to the audio interviews below to get a true feel for how great this tournament is! Brandon is very focused on making sure the players and the coaches have an extraordinary experience, providing everything from a Players Party at the Tennessee Aquarium to a full-color tournament booklet, from complimentary snacks throughout each day to sponsor booths and giveaways, from educational sessions to off-court activities. I would love to see this tournament become a template for future events around the country!
Brandon Feusner Interview
Nikki Feusner Interview
It was very interesting to hear from the players regarding what they value about this tournament and tennis in general as well as their goals after high school:
Like the players themselves, the coaches also see the great value in this tournament. Here is Cherry Creek Girls Coach, Christin Jacob:
The parents I spoke with were more than happy to make the trip to Chattanooga for this event. Here is dad Peter Nowak from Pensacola, Florida talking about his daughter’s experience:
With so many junior players suffering from burnout and leaving the game by the age of 13, it’s time to think differently about junior competition. Offering more team-based events, like the DecoTurf High School Tennis Team Championships, would be a step in the right direction. I know Brandon would be happy to speak with anyone interested in creating such a tournament (his contact information can be found here). Both local and sectional USTA offices have recognized the value in Brandon’s work, awarding his tournament two separate awards this past year as Nikki discussed in her interview above.
Thank you to Brandon, Nikki, and their incredible volunteers for stepping way outside the box to provide this unique and much-needed tournament to our kids!