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Lowcountry Jr. Team Tennis Team Wins Nationals!

October 28, 2009 05:03 PM

After several years of coming very close, the dream of nine Lowcountry junior tennis players was finally realized this week in Mobile, Alabama when the Lowcountry Gators from Summerville, SC won the 2009 USTA National Jr. Team Tennis Championships! The team went undefeated in the 14s Advanced division against the top 16 teams in the United States and Puerto Rico to win the championship and accomplish their team’s goal that was set a couple of years ago.

“This team would not give up their dream,” said head coach Jimmy Elliget. “They had to overcome disappointment the past couple of years by not winning the championships, but never once did anyone on this team believe that this day would not come… and it finally did.” 
Last year the Lowcountry Gators won Sectionals, but then lost two of their girls to the SCISA High School Tennis Playoffs that were held the same weekend as the National JTT Championships.

“I knew if we had everyone there, we were going to win this year!” said teammate Adam Elliget.

The team, which includes Sarah McDonald, Meagan Evans, Kristen Farmer, Ellie Halbauer, Drew Halbauer, Bailey Kirkland, Thomas Spratt, Zac Dye, and Adam Elliget, advanced through their bracket play with a 3-0 record with wins over teams from New England, New Mexico, and Utah. The team went 13-2 in individual matches during bracket play, and none of the three matches came down to the mixed doubles match, (the last match played in the team tennis format). By winning their bracket, the team was assured of a top four finish, but the Gators would accept nothing less than the title.

In the semi-finals, the Gators played a team from New Jersey who beat out the 2008 champions in their bracket play. Once again, the Lowcountry Gators dominated the courts and won, securing their advancement to the finals and leaving one match between them and the National title they wanted so badly. The finals came down to the Gators vs the Neon Ninjas, a very tough team from Florida, but the Gators were up for the challenge and would not be denied the title. The Gators saved their best tennis for last and defeated the Neon Ninjas by an astounding 53 games to 30 (4-1 in matches), securing the 2009 National Jr. Team Tennis title for the 14s Advanced division!

The team finished the tournament with a 20-5 individual match record in its 5-0 team match record. The boys were undefeated for the entire tournament. The Doubles teams of Adam Elliget/Zac Dye and Bailey Kirkland/Thomas Spratt, along with singles player Drew Halbauer, did not lose a single match in the tournament. This is an incredible feat at this level of competition. Meagan Evans lost only one match while playing Singles against the best girl players in the tournament as well.

“With all of the pressure squarely on the players’ shoulders, their play on court was absolutely brilliant!” said Jimmy Elliget. “I could not have asked for anyone on this team to have played better. It was really a joy to watch and I had to do very little coaching or motivating. The players all knew what they wanted and performed beautifully!”

USTA South Carolina Board and Staff want to congratulate this team on its fine effort and determination to win the 2009 Jr. Team Tennis National Championships.

“We are very proud to have such a fine group of young people represent South Carolina and the Southern Section at National and look forward to their continued success in tennis for many years to come!”  Michelle Campanella, Manager of Junior Programs at USTA South Carolina.