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Bigger JTT State Championships set for Florence

July 13, 2015 04:03 PM

By Jonathon Braden
USTA South Carolina

The biggest tennis party for kids in South Carolina returns to Florence this weekend bigger and better than in past years. But the same prize awaits many of the champions of the 2015 USTA South Carolina Junior Team Tennis State Championships: the opportunity to get closer to a USTA national championship.

The USTA SC JTT State Championships start Friday evening and continue through Sunday afternoon at the Dr. Eddie Floyd Florence Tennis Center. About 250 players, ages 6 to 18, from across the state will participate in the team tennis event, up from last year’s count of 225 players. Off the court, players also will have more activities to enjoy, including table tennis and video games.

18U_Int_W_Landsharks
Wammock's Hilton Head Island team will be among the returning teams this weekend. (USTA SC photo)


“We’re excited to welcome so many players and coaches back to Florence for more great tennis and fun,” said Rashawn Nelson, manager of junior programs for USTA South Carolina, the state office of the U.S. Tennis Association.

JTT teams, which are co-ed, advance to state by playing well in their local leagues throughout the year. Their matches consist of three different play formats: singles, doubles and mixed doubles.

Some South Carolina teams are used to the fun format because they’re making return trips to the championships, including two teams that advanced to the USTA JTT National Championships last year.

Eric Jackson’s Lexington team finished fourth in 18 and under’s top division at last year’s USTA JTT National Championships, which were held in Lexington County. All but two of the boys and girls who played on last year’s team will play this weekend, Jackson said.

“I feel very confident with this group of kids,” he said. “They all get along really well together.”

About half of Eric Wammock’s Hilton Head Island Landsharks team, which finished sixth in the 18 and under intermediate division at nationals last year, is back for more JTT as well.

Other groups will be the first JTT team to go to state from their area in years, including the “Stables Smashers” from Pawleys Island and “Ebenezer Might,” a 10 and under team that competed in the Florence Junior Team Tennis spring season earlier this year. Last year, the Florence area didn’t even have a JTT program.

“We love it,” said Danny Horne, the team’s coach.

Horne’s daughter Kennedy Horne plays on the team. Danny Horne likes the variety of tennis she experiences through JTT, including doubles and mixed doubles. This weekend, he also will appreciate the short 10-minute drive from his house to the championships site, the Florence Tennis Center.

This is the fourth year the championships have been held at the Florence Tennis Center, which boasts 24 hard courts, six clay courts and an outdoor pavilion, the perfect place to catch a match or four.

The USTA SC JTT State Championships, like other tennis events in Florence, also will boost the local economy. The three-day tournament should bring in about $207,000 to Florence, said Darlene Buchanan, the city’s recreation manager.

“You can’t ask for more for a weekend,” she said. “We’re just very excited to have it back in Florence again this year.”

The five championship teams from this weekend can advance to the 2015 USTA Southern Junior Team Tennis Section Championships, which are scheduled for August 21-23 in Lexington County. There, the teams will play for the chance to go to the USTA JTT National Championships, which will be held in Lexington County for the fourth consecutive year in October.

For more information, go to sctennis.com/jttchamps.

USTA South Carolina JTT State Championships Schedule

Friday

5 p.m. – 9 p.m.: Play begins.

Saturday

9 a.m. – noon: Play continues.

Noon – 2 p.m.: Tennis Extravaganza: Players and coaches take a break from tennis and enjoy a water slide, slip and slide and the video game truck.

2 p.m. – 6 p.m.: Play continues.

Sunday

9 a.m. – 6 p.m.: Play continues.

Teams by area

Midlands – 10

Upstate – 8

Charleston – 4

Beaufort County – 4

Rock Hill – 3

Florence – 1

St. George – 1

Myrtle Beach area – 1

 

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