Nation’s Top High School Tennis Teams Compete for National Championship

The DecoTurf High School Tennis Team Championships is a national invitational high school tennis tournament hosted annually in Chattanooga, TN. The event, which originated in 2008 in Louisville, KY, has hosted thousands of student-athletes from more than 170 different high schools over the last nine years including 100 Team State Champions, 96 Individual State Champions, 59 High School All-Americans and over 150 players that have signed to play NCAA Division I tennis. I will be attending for the second year and will have the opportunity to interview players, parents, coaches, and others involved with this incredible event. Stay tuned for an update early next week!

The 2017 DecoTurf High School Tennis Team Championships returns to Chattanooga, TN for its 10th Anniversary beginning this Friday. The national high school invitational tournament will feature its largest field in tournament history hosting 64 teams from 13 states. The event will host more than 1,000 matches at various facilities throughout Chattanooga on March 24-25th. The 2017 tournament field includes some of the nation’s top high school tennis programs with 16 defending team state champions and 12 defending state finalists participating in the event. The field also features three former high school tennis All-Americans and more than 30 seniors that have already committed to play collegiate tennis.

The Girls A Division features six defending state champions and a pair of former tournament champions. The field is led by top seed Walton, the 2015 Girls A Division Champions, which is coming off a Georgia Class 6A State Championship. The Raiders are led by 5-star recruit and James Madison University signee Liz Norman and sisters Emily and Grace Gaskins.. Defending Girls A Division Champion Baylor, the second seed in the event, is seeking their fifth tournament championship. The Red Raiders, defending Tennessee Division II Class AA State Champions, return five of their top six players from last season’s team including 2016 Tournament MVP Drew Hawkins, a Belmont signee. The third seed in the event is defending Tennessee Division II Class A State Champion Webb School of Knoxville. The Spartans are led by a trio of 3-star recruits in Lauren Yoon, Carina Dagotto and Audrey Yoon. The fourth seed is Jackson Academy, defending Mississippi Independent School Class 4A State Champions, led by TCU signee Meredith Roberts and 4-star junior Faatimah Bashir. Top players will include 5-star rated freshman Elizabet Verizova (North Gwinnett), 4-star recruit and Indiana signee Michelle McKamey (McCracken County) and Alabama signee and 2016 Hannah Belsinger Spirit of Tennis Award recipient Mallory Gilmer (Etowah).

The Girls B Division features the top three finishers from last year’s Girls B Division. The top seed will be defending Girls B Division Champion, Milton. The Eagles are led by 3-star freshman Juliana Mascagni. The second seed is Tennessee High which is led by 5-star junior Chloe Hamlin. The third seed is Starr’s Mill, 2016 Girls B Division Consolation Winner, led by junior Elena Wernecke. The fourth seed is Riverwood which is led by 4-star junior transfer Elizabeth Goines.

The Boys A Division features a loaded field with eight defending state champions and three former tournament champions. The top overall seed is Spartanburg, defending Boys A Division Champion and South Carolina Class 4A State Champions. The Vikings feature a loaded roster that includes Clemson commit and 2016 Tournament MVP Chambers Easterling and 4-star recruits Spencer Brown and Bryce Keim. The second overall seed is defending Georgia Class 6A State Champion Northview. Senior Jeremy Yuan, a Chicago signee, and high-rated sophomore Gavin Segraves lead the way for the Titans. The third seed is 2016 Boys A Division runner-up Saint Xavier. The defending Kentucky State Champions are led by the duo of Furman signee Drew Singerman and junior Alex Wesbrooks. The fourth seed is Southlake Carroll. The Dragons, led by junior 5-star recruit Arman Dave, finished the fall season ranked 4th in Class 6A in the Lone Star State. Top players will include 5-star junior Nicholas Watson (Catholic), Vanderbilt signee George Harwell (Montgomery Bell), 4-star junior Antonio Mora (Ransom Everglades), 5-star freshman Presley Thieneman (Trinity) and 2016 Hannah Belsinger Spirit of Tennis Award recipient Zachary Elliott (Hinsdale Central).

The Boys B Division is led by Georgia powerhouse Etowah. The Eagles are led by freshman blue-chip recruit Josh Raab and Appalachian State signee Cole Heller. The second seed is Milton led by the duo of juniors Justin Neibert and Benjamin Falk. The third seed is Georgia Class 4A state finalist Carrollton. The Trojans are led by 3-star senior Carver Arant. The fourth seed is Brookwood. The Broncos are led by senior Brooks Berry and sophomore Reuben Dayal. Top Players include 4-star junior Jefferson Hobbs (Niceville), 4-star senior Ryan Olps (North Gwinnett) and 4-star sophomore Cole Brainard (Dunwoody).

The Boys C Division is led by top seed and defending Boys C Division Champions George Washington. The Patriots are led by sophomore Anthony McIntosh. The second seed is DuPont Manual led by senior Erich Endres. Top players include 4-star junior Brooks Green (McGill-Toolen), sophomore Hussain Alzubaidi (Siegel) and 4-star 8th grader Walker Stearns (Saint George’s).

For more information visit the DecoTurf High School Tennis Team Championships website at www.hstennischampionships.com.

4 Comments on “Nation’s Top High School Tennis Teams Compete for National Championship”

  1. I just listened to the podcast, and the tournament director does need to either limit teams to 48 or less or expand sites. One of the boys A semifinals did not get off the court until after 1am and then players from those 2 teams had to play rested teams at 8am in the finals or 3/4 playoffs. Parents informed offiicials of USTA Southern’s 12 hour rest rule requiring a minimum of 12 hours between getting off the court and starting next match, but the Decoturf officials blew them off. It The players did not even get 8 hours to return to the hotel, shower, sleep, and eat breakfast before having to play the following am. The tournament needs to eliminate the C division if it cant manage to schedule the main draw of A level matches at reasonable hours. Not only were the boys disappointed to lose the final 3-4 which might have had a different outcome if they had been able to get 8 hours of sleep, but also that decision put their health and safety at risk in violation of USTA rules.There may have been other teams that also got off court after midnight, and all team’s safety whether division A,B, or C should be priority 1, EVen though this is a high school tournament, it is sanctioned by USTA southern, earns USTA southern points, and should follow USTA southern rules.

    1. Just wanted provide a quick follow up to this regarding the event schedule. The elimination of a division as you suggested would have done nothing to eliminate the problem that you discussed. The issue at hand is that teams from the state of Georgia may not play during school hours and may not play on Sunday. So therefore they cannot start play until 3:30pm Friday in most cases and must play two matches on Friday night was a rest break. That means with an average of 2:45-3:00 per match that the absolute earliest that a team could get finished on Friday would be 10:30pm and that is if everything goes exactly according to schedule and we start no matches after 7:30pm.

      We are working to explore options to alleviate this issue in the future but it may be that the only option is to prevent Georgia schools from participating in the event. Even when this event was a 32 team tournament we had this same exact problem with Georgia schools and formerly with Kentucky schools which had a similar rule. This is one of those few things were with this being a high school event we have to follow the rules of the state high school associations more so than the USTA rules. The officials and tournament director did not blow off the concerns of the parents, players and coaches at the event, we listened intently and evaluated every possible situation to see if there were any changes we could make to the schedule but it was not possible without drastically changing the schedule of every team in the event on Saturday and potentially causing the event to extend later into the evening on Saturday in which rain and storms were highly likely. As we anticipated we narrowly missed having to move all the final matches indoors as we finished the finals at each site as storms clouds rolled in.

      ALL coaches knew prior to the event that we were unable to follow the 12-hours rule due to these restrictions put in place by certain states. This event is very different than other USTA events and the rules/regulations associated with them. Another possible change in the future is to make this event a non-sanctioned event.

      I appreciate your concern with the welfare of the players as that is our #1 concern when it comes to the event, however we have to abide by the rules/regulations which we are under from participating states and with schools from Georgia in the field they have barely 30 hours to complete four dual matches at nearly 3 hours each.

  2. Thanks for the explanation. I had heard about the situation from parents there. My son had enjoyed playing Decoturf a couple years ago without those issues. I apologize as I didnt realize all the conflicts between USTA and state association rules. The GA state association must have different rules during playoffs as when metro teams have to play south GA teams, one team has to travel or both travel to an intermediate neutral site, and matches are played during the school day, maybe because all schools dont have lights or maybe because the sites could be 4 hours away from each other. I had not idea about the Sunday rule. I am glad Decoturf exists so tournament players get high level team play and the non tournament HS players from the South can earn tournaments points, and players from any section can get UTR credit for matches. The tournament certainly is popular with GA team in spite of GHSAA making it difficult. Again apologies and good luck with expansion to other sections. I think Florida and California have similar HS tournaments, but there are a lot of teams between the two coasts without that opportunity.

  3. Okemos High School Boys Varsity Tennis team (in Okemos, Michigan) is going to win States this year, and is going to return as a legacy team for the next few years… Watch for them!!

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