8/16/14-8/18/14 Arizona Junior Challenger

August 16, 2014

 
August 16-18, 2014
 
Arizona Junior Challenger
 

 
50 S. Alvernon Way
 
“The greatest challenge births the greatest growth.”  
 
The Jim Reffkin Tennis Center offers a challenge to our youth- come to our courts August 16-18 for a long weekend of rallying, serving, follow-throughs, sweat, grit, and determination. Reffkin is pleased to announce its Arizona Junior Challenger tournament. This USTA sanctioned tournament is for the kids who see how small they are in a big world and long to carve a piece of it for themselves.
 
We have singles and doubles for kids 8-18. The singles play best 2 out of 3 and the doubles play an 8 game pro set. If you are in need of a partner, please register one week before the August 8th deadline and request a partner.
 
Register online at http://tennislink.usta.com/Tournaments/TournamentHome/Tournament.aspx?T=146347
 
$30 covers singles and doubles.
 
Will you answer our challenge? We have 181 players that've answered so far. Are you among them? 


Reflection, by Jesse Boone


Challenges happen to all of us in our lives- sometimes we have to push ourselves beyond what we expected to deal with. Sometimes it hurts us to keep moving, but when we look back days, months, and even years later we know these challenges pushed us to become better than we thought we were, and the challenge was worth pushing us to a new level. There is thus no better fitting name for the Jim Reffkin Tennis Center’s mid-August tournament than the Arizona Junior Challenger. On this hot Tucson day, kids came from all across Arizona to push themselves beyond all expectations to raise their game to a new level.
 
It’s amazing to see the concentration these kids have; all across the Reffkin Tennis Center there are racquets ringing, sneakers screeching, and athletes grunting, but despite all the noise, these kids play as though they and their opponent are the only ones in the world. The world is buzzing, but when they step on the court, nothing else matters.
 
The first game I saw there was the Boys 14 finals set between George Jiang and Cezar Rata. George and Cezar are young, but they’re living proof tennis isn’t about the years… it’s about the mileage, and both of them have logged a lot of miles on the courts. They move with incredible presence and skill on the court. Cezar in particular likes to slice the tennis ball- one of the game’s highlights was when George hit the ball right at him, but Cezar sliced it so perfectly it surprised George and helped Cezar win the point. Cezar also likes to dribble his tennis ball for a few bounces before every serve, possibly to help him connect with the ball and gather his energy. George is fast on his feet- his returns are very speedy and Cezar rarely had time to recompose before George sent the ball flying back to him. George’s speed served him well; when his roadrunner dust settled, he had won the Finals 6-4 and 7-6(3).
 
The Girls 16 Final took place next door. Anya Lamoreaux took on Zoey Nelson in a strong showing. Both girls have a raw power in their strikes, and I’m surprised the rallies last as long as they do with what frequently look like nonreturnable hits that get met with these great saves. Their parents watch from the shade, but they look almost as intense as the players. Anya’s parents wince almost the same time she does, as though they’re experiencing every sensation of the game with her. Anya likes to twirl her racquet in her hand in between points, either as a good luck charm or to keep her arm loose. Zoey keeps a white towel nearby and wipes her brow after almost every point- she doesn’t want anything to distract her from her composure. Anya is less calm and still- she carries a frequent bounce in her step to keep herself loose and quick. Anya finally won 6-1 6-4.
 
With so much tennis flying around, it was hard to document everything. Some games were done before I could settle down with my laptop and take notes. Families and friends mingle all around the benches and courts, and two tables were set up for crazy ping pong games. People wander in and out of the Reffkin front office to refill their cups and hang in the air conditioning, but most people are glued to watching the court action. Reffkin visitors got to watch Mauricio Grijalva defeat Hussein Elalami 6-7(4) 6-3, 6-4. I caught the very end of this, and it was very exciting. Hussein and Mauricio worked very lightly on their feet and had some memorable spikes. Jesus Martinez defeated Luke Urlaub 6-1, 1-0, ret. ill. Paris Corley bested Kirtana Bhat 6-2, 6-1 to win the Girls 18 Finals. Girls 14 saw Ava Neyestani beat Natasha Puehse 6-3, 6-3. Girls 10- Green featured Belani Soto knock off Alexandra Hannen 6-4, 2-6, 1-0 (9). Girls 10-orange showcased Yareli Yanez, Boys 10-Orange saw George Badulesco defeat Saul Acunaibarr, and Boys 10-Green highlighted Ivan Perisic. Emily Flowers defeated Matilyn Wang 6-4, 6-3 in the Girls 12 Final. There was a lot of excitement on the court and both girls stood out. Emily kept a high energy throughout the match and Matilyn hits with a strong technique that’s rare to find in a twelve-year old. They gave everything they had and challenged themselves to go further. Well done, you two- that’s a work ethic that’ll carry you very far in life.
 
Yet if there’s one game that truly had a main event feel, it was the clash between Nathan Niemiec and Michael Lee in the Boys 18 Finals. This one game had a strong attraction, drawing 27 people to watch its exciting conclusion. I couldn’t find either boy’s parents in the midst of the crowd, but I had the chance to talk with several fans who’ve watched these two play many matches before. Mr. William Csaszar and his grandson watched intently as Nathan and Michael put on a tennis clinic, responding to one another’s power with vicious serves, diving saves, brutal determination, and long rallies. “They’re so close {in ability}” Mr. Csaszar said, “it’s really hard to tell how it’ll end.” Another fan chimed in, “I’m feeling a tiebreaker here.” The crowd clapped after each lengthy rally- you’d think you were watching a world championship. This was a fierce battle between Nathan’s calm, sharp precision and Michael’s manic, frenzied power. “They have school and they have tennis,” said Mr. Csaszar, “they gravitate to here; this is what they have.” It’s so easy to see then why these boys swing with their heart behind their racquet. If it came down to who wants it more, they’d never leave the court. Yet all classics come to an end- Michael walked away with a 6-3, 7-5 victory to be remembered. There was a mixed reaction from the crowd, who supported both boys strongly but would’ve loved to see a tiebreaker just to watch these two grade-A players fight again. I briefly spoke to Nathan after the match; I looked him straight in the eye and said he gave one heck of a fight. He thanked me generously, but it was his eyes that stood out to me- it was the look of a man that had pushed himself off the map and had uncovered something new about himself. He proved his salt and left it all on the court. Nathan had everything a true tennis player should have walking off the court- humility and sweat.

  What a day here at the Jim Reffkin Tennis Center; these athletes are shaping themselves in our challenge here to take on life’s challenges. Their work ethic, determination, and heart make them all winners to us. Boys and girls walk on here to play the sport we love, but they all walk off as men and women who’ve pushed themselves through grit and passion. That is something we should treasure, and something I want to salue all these outstanding young people for. 

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