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2012 Texas Summer Grand Slam
The Texas Summer Grand Slam, or Texas Sectionals, is the most important tournament in Texas junior tennis. The tournament offers entrants the opportunity to earn twice the points awarded in major zones, and features a feed in consolation draw, which means every player continues until he or she loses twice.
Beyond the measurable differences in available points and length, Texas Sectionals is set apart from the other Texas tournaments for various, maybe slightly less tangible characteristics.
From the electric energy that resonates through the Texas A&M courts, to the unmatched thrill of competing on center court of a packed facility, or the stubborn summer sun of College Station in June, Texas Sectionals packs a punch that is unparalleled by any other junior event throughout the year.
ATA has sent a team to Texas Sectionals each year since the Academy’s creation, and the players and coaches have many traditions and memories that have been fostered along the way.
Here are some of the favorite traditions and memories from a few of the ATA coaches –
COO and ATA parent Deb Cahill:
“Getting the Sectionals t-shirts was kind of like Christmas morning for my kids!
Proud moment - arriving at A&M main site en masse Friday in matching t-shirts.
Sitting in the stands by stadium court 1 with soooooo many ATA fans, surrounded by ATA players on most of the courts!”
Coach Estevam Strecker :
“1) By far my favorite day at ATA is the first team meeting on Friday night in College Station. I know Christmas and End of the year party are important, but I love the first night in C.S. The reason being is that every tournament throughout the year, we are separated. 12-14 go to one place and 16-18 go to another place. Sectionals, everyone is in the same place. All players, coaches, and some parents...we are ALL in the same room. You can feel the energy and the tension, which as a coach is very exciting. I like to look around and imagine who will be the ones who will have a successful Sectionals and usually it is the ones who work the hardest over the 12 months that separate Sectionals to Sectionals.
2) ATA t-shirts vs. other places T-shirts. I am not sure who started making special t-shirts for sectionals, I kind of hope ATA was the first one, but I do not know. Anyways, I think it is incredible to walk into the facility with our players and everyone is wearing the same color. We never look like a TEAM as much as we do on the first couple of days in C.S. Again, there is a synergistic energy among players and coaches, I love it.
3) I really like the Pre-Sectionals camp because it is a nice change of rhythm to everyone. Most kids are out of school, so there is nothing to distract from what we are preparing for. For us coaches, it marks the beginning of the summer, which means our work hours are more "normal" and gives us a change of pace meaning we get there early and drill for two hours. Then we play matches for the second half. I can't help but imagine I am coaching professional tennis players leading up a Grand Slam tournament.
As for memories, I have one that really sticks out. Last year we were playing the second day and I was at TAMU and I am sitting on top watching matches at the Stadium. On one side we had 4 ATA players and one the other side another 4, so out of 12 courts, 8 had ATA players. All wearing the same color. I cannot explain, but it just felt so good and I was so proud of being an ATA coach. It was the culmination of an entire year of work, all there for everyone to see. And here is the kicker, our kids were cheering on each other. Fantastic atmosphere.”
Coach Kendall Brooks :
“The Friday caravan to College Station, lunch at Freebirds, to the team practice and then doubles Friday with everyone at one site is always my favorite.
The team meeting on Friday night is a good one too. The energy is buzzing, all coaches talk, everyone getting fired up.
I also like the way we all wear the same color t-shirt every day. Really makes a statement on the court.
I'll never forget last year when we were all there for practice on Friday, but Liam was playing the finals of Champ masters and we were all in a group watching the play by play on Twitter in his third set breaker and celebrating- everyone truly wanted him to qualify and we looked crazy cheering at our phones! Definitely felt like a team.”
Coach Jack Newman :
“The tournament is unique in that it is the only tournament of the year where all ages, boys and girls, play in the same city during the same time. This allows ATA's younger players to see our older kids in action, always motivating and fun.”
Coach Brandon Davis :
We started the colored shirt tradition, not any other program in Texas. We started it my junior year when the tournament was still in Wichita Falls. Talk about making a statement, everybody saw it and everybody knew where an ATA player was playing (this was the first year ATA existed) oh, and we won 6 titles that year.”
Team ATA will travel together to College Station, with the 14s, 16s and 18s departing on Friday and the 12s joining later in the weekend. Good luck to everyone competing this weekend and throughout the coming week!