February 21st, 2017

Tennis Briefs: Junior Team Tennis at USTA National Campus; Connor Smith Profile

General News Junior Team Tennis Youth Tennis News Pro Tennis

Orlando’s USTA National Campus to Host Junior Team Tennis Sign-Up Event in March

The new USTA National Campus in Orlando will host a Junior Team Tennis Team-Up event, free to players of all ages and parents who would like more information on area Junior Team Tennis leagues.

The Team-Up will be held on Saturday, March 11, 2017 from 2-4 p.m. and will include tennis and a chance to meet other players and organizers from facilities across the region at a family-friendly event.

“All ages and ability levels are welcome,” says USTA Florida Junior Team Tennis Coordinator Liz Coates. “We’ll help you find a team close to you. Parents and coaches will get valuable information about the season, and can connect directly with league administrators to ask questions.”

All players who sign up for a local JTT league at the event will receive a free gift. Parents must complete the online waiver at the link below to participate at the USTA National Campus.

USTA Junior Team Tennis brings kids together in teams to play singles, doubles and mixed doubles against other teams. It promotes social skills and important values by fostering a spirit of cooperation and unity, as well as individual self-growth. JTT provides a fun environment for kids in which they learn that succeeding is really more about how they play the game — win or lose. Nearly 100,000 kids from coast to coast play Junior Team Tennis annually.

For more info or to sign-up go to www.ustaflorida.com/event/usta-florida-orlano-junior-team-tennis-team-event/.


Jr. Tennis Profile: Tampa’s Connor Smith Back from Net Injury, Now Netting Results

by Colette Lewis, USTA Florida junior tennis contributor

The end of the 2016 season came to an abrupt and unpleasant end for Connor Smith. The 26-year-old from Tampa was competing in a Futures tournament in El Salvador last November when he suffered an unusual injury.

“I ran into a net post, hit something and went shoulder first into the net post,” Smith recalled. “I was lucky, I didn’t have to have surgery, but I fractured something, tore something, and was out for a while.”

Smith was not expected to plunge back into the grind of the Futures circuit until later this month, with his initial plan to play only doubles at last week’s $15,000 USTA Pro Circuit event at the USTA National Campus in Orlando.

“I was just going to play doubles, but then I decided at the last minute that I’ll go sign in for [qualifying],” said Smith, who would have gotten into the main draw had he entered. “I literally got in the car and said, yeah, I’ll do it. David [ITF supervisor Littlefield] gave me a wild card, or I wouldn’t have gotten in, because there were so many people here.”

Smith admitted that curiosity about the huge new USTA facility played a role in his decision to make his 2017 debut there.

“I kind of wanted to check out this place,” Smith said of the 100-court facility that opened in January. “It’s crazy. It’s super impressive. It kind of fits in for Orlando, because there’s amusement parks everywhere and it’s like the tennis amusement park.”

After four wins in qualifying, Smith was unable to get past the first round in the main draw, falling to former Columbia University star Winston Lin in a third-set tiebreaker. But he and Rhyne Williams did take home the doubles title, their second Futures title together, beating unseeded Dominik Koepfer of Germany and Boris Arias of Bolivia 3-6, 6-3, 10-8 in the final.

Williams and Smith, both of whom train at Saddlebrook in Wesley Chapel, now have a total of 23 professional doubles titles between them.

Williams is a former star at the University of Tennessee, and Smith, son of renowned developmental coach Steve Smith, played at Florida State before transferring to Ohio State and graduating with a degree in Sport and Leisure Studies in 2013.