Universal Tennis Junior Nationals Wrap-Up
Although I was unable to attend in person, I did keep a close eye on this past weekend’s Universal Tennis Junior Nationals held at the Rome Tennis Center in Rome, Georgia. It was the second iteration of the Universal Tennis Junior Pathway Championships with both boys and girls competing in the Under 15 and Under 17 divisions.
What sets these events apart from other junior tournaments? Firstly, it’s the exposure to college coaches via free livestreaming (and recordings) of every match played throughout the event. As U17 Boys Champion, Shaurya Bharadwaj, told us, “This was my first UTR tournament and it was such a big one. So this gives me a lot of confidence coming up with the national clay courts and Kalamazoo that I can compete at the highest level and hopefully do really well along with all the college coaches watching. So I was happy that I was able to play well in front of them and hopefully get my name out there.” U15 Girls Champion, Elizabeth Fauchet, echoed Shaurya’s sentiments about the value of playing this event, “Well, my hope is to get really far into a couple of the national tournaments, such as National Clay and National Hards. I really hope just to get to play a lot this summer and get to train.”
While there were college coaches on hand to watch these players compete in person, not every school could send a representative, so having the ability to watch the matches from the comfort of their own computer is a huge bonus for those coaches looking to recruit players for their rosters. Over 70 college coaches watched the matches online from a variety of divisions and conferences.
And it’s not only college coaches who have access to these matches. The players can also share them with friends and family as well as their junior coaches back home who may not have been able to make the trip to Rome. “I haven’t played a lot of tournaments when there’re cameras on all the courts. And I shared the link with my friends and tell them when and where I was playing and they’ve been watching me and supporting me along with my family back home. So it’s been a really good experience,” said Shaurya Bharadwaj. Now, the players and their home coaches can evaluate performance using actual match footage then formulate a training plan based on what and how the players performed. It’s a win-win for all parties.
Secondly, it’s the chance to play for a wildcard into a future UTR Pro Tennis Tour event. In the Under 17 divisions, the winners, finalists, and semifinalists will each receive wildcards with 3 going to the winner, 2 to the finalist, and one to each semifinalist. In the Under 15 divisions, the winners and finalists will each receive one wildcard. For players aspiring to play high-level college tennis and/or try their hand on the professional circuit, having an opportunity to pit their current style of play against those already playing professionally is incredibly valuable. They will be able to see how well their game holds up and where they still need to put in some additional work technically, tactically, fitness-wise, and mentally. What a gift for these young athletes!
Seventeen-year-old Germany Davis who won the Girls Under 17 event has some specific goals for this summer and feels this tournament is a great starting point: “My goals this summer are to keep grinding, get my UTR up, get in touch with more college coaches, get myself out there, get experience starting the pros a little bit and just seeing what I want to do.” She notes what she will take away from the weekend: “I got a lot of exposure, college coaches getting to watch me. I got to see a lot of different game styles and get used to the heat. It’s summertime so my summer tour is just getting started, so it’s great to start off this way.”
As an added bonus this year, the Nationals were held during a men’s and women’s $25K Pro Tennis Tour event at the same Rome Tennis Center. The juniors had the opportunity to see the pros in action, to watch their pre-match routines, their practices, and their warmup rituals. Getting to see these aspects of pro tennis up close should give the junior players a very good idea of what the future may hold if they continue to work hard and love the game. As the U15 Boys Champion, Lorenzo Brunkow, shared, “It’s a good inspiration to watch the pros and see the better players. Winning this tournament gives me confidence going into training this summer and hopefully getting my UTR up a little bit this summer.”
The Prospect Camp begins today and runs through Wednesday. The players will be put onto co-ed teams of 8 girls and 8 boys based on their UTR and will be coached by current college coaches throughout the camp. They will do drills, participate in coaching panels, and play both singles and doubles as a team. Scoring will mirror Division I tennis: Singles Matches will be 2 out of 3 sets, with a 10-point tiebreaker in lieu of a full third set and no-ad scoring. Doubles Matches will be a single set to 6 games and no-ad scoring. It is another fantastic opportunity for the players who aspire to extend their competitive tennis into college to get a taste of how the college coaches run practices and what they expect from their team members.
And now, the results of the Universal Tennis Junior Nationals:
Under 15 Boys
Winner: Lorenzo Brunkow (10.23)
Finalist: Evan Ly (9.02)
Under 17 Boys
Winner: Shaurya Bharadwaj (10.93)
Finalist: Nico Jamison (11.58)
Under 15 Girls
Winner: Elizabeth Fauchet (9.06)
Finalist: Sabritt Dozier (7.95)
Under 17 Girls
Winner: Germany Davis (9.19)
Finalist: Elisabeth Dunac (9.35)
Photo Gallery (credit: Doug Walker)