OTA players have recently traveled to Chattanooga, Memphis, and Little Rock…
(Coach Matias talking to Brooke in Chattanooga)
(Darby and Brooke in Memphis)
(Karl, Stella, and Coach Matias at Spring Swing)
(Mamen watching Hayden in Little Rock)
(Santi Halle & Zac Curtis with Coaches Matias & Beau at Spring Swing)
2017 has been a good year for OTA already…
Hayden Shoemake won the Jay Freeman Most Improved Player Award…Which recognizes effort, dedication, and personal improvement in tennis.
Hayden has steadily improved throughout 2016, starting the year ranked in the 120’s in the South, and finished the year in the top 60.
It was a great end to 2016:
Hayden Shoemake was the 7A west singles runner up, and placed 4th at State!
Emma Baker placed 4th at the 7A west Conference tournament and won her first round at State!
Taylor Cheung-Damonte was the 7A west Conference doubles Championship, the 7A State doubles Champion, and the Arkansas Overall Doubles Champion!
Brooke Killingsworth was the 7A West Singles Champion, the 7A Singles Champion, and the Arkansas overall Singles Champion! She was also named the Wendy’s Arkansas Player of the Year, Along with being named Tennis Player of the Year by the Arkansas Athletics Association.
(Brooke pictured Left)
Brooke was named the Arkansas Democrat Gazette Singles Player of the Year. Taylor was also named the Arkansas the Arkansas Democrat Gazette Doubles Player of the Year!
Congrats guys on an AWESOME year!!!
It’s almost a month old, so what a perfect time to welcome in 2016!! But first, good-bye to 2015:
It was a great year, from Jack Vaughan winning the OTA tournament…
To welcoming Coach Matias (pictured giving Coach Kristina some words of coaching wisdom) to the OTA family…
To Haeleigh making the Qualifier finals…
To a phenomenal summer…
To the moving on of our two senior leaders, Mallory and Haeleigh…
To a sad, but not unexpected, good-bye to Coach Jake…
To a triumph at state for Taylor, who won the 7A doubles title…
To the beginning of off-season training, and a whole new CrossFit crew…
It was so good, Darby couldn’t bear to hear it was over…
Yes, it was an excellent year — and 2016 is already looking good! There is an excitement amongst our coaches, as we see a motivation and effort coming from our players that can only lead to good things, on and off the court. And this is not only from our older groups, but our younger ones as well. From Anklebiters to Orange Crush to Black, it’s been a fantastic winter so far!
As we move into the year, much of the excitement stems from our coaching news. As most of you know, we added two former OTA players to the staff, Matt Tabler and Caleb “C Mac” McReynolds, and they are already doing a phenomenal job. Matt has the little guys wrapped around his finger (maybe they mistake him for a teddy bear because of the beard?), and C Mac has already put a stamp on our fitness program. We are so happy to have both of them!
Coach Jared has also had a busy last year, with a rough start to 2015 transitioning to a year that saw him acquire 2 fitness certifications, serve a 3rd year on the Southern Section Coaches Commission, work as a Team USA sectional coach, coach two major team events (as a Southerns coach for 14’s Zonals and as the Arkansas coach for 12’s Southern Cup), and be one of only 2 Arkansas pros invited to attend the Southern Tournament Director’s workshop. 2016 has already been productive as well, as he was accepted into the USTA High Performance Coaching Program, where he spent a week training at the USTA National Training Center in Boca Raton. All of the information he gathers is then funneled down to the rest of the OTA coaching staff, so that we can continue to grow as a program.
So there it is — the end of 2015, and the already-begun welcoming of 2016! Thank you to all of you for being part of our OTA family, we are looking forward to an amazing new year!!!!
It has been a spectacular start to the summer, and our coaches have been impressed with the effort being put in by the players. There are more players than ever taking advantage of the time off from school, and putting in 5 days a week of training. This is how the Summer has gone so far:
Arkansas Jr Qualifier
We had 20 players and 5 coaches travel to Little Rock, and it was an excellent weekend for the program! We qualified several for Southerns, and were high on many of the alternate lists, too. The top finishers were:
Haeleigh Long – 2nd place Girls 18 singles
Mallory Tabler – 3rd place Girls 18 singles, Girls 18 Doubles Champion
Gwyneth Gifford – 3rd place Girls 12 singles, Girls 12 Doubles Champion
Caroline Long – 2nd Place Girls 12 Doubles
Overall, it was a great learning experience for many of our players, and gave a glimpse of many future successful Qualifiers to come. It was especially exciting to have so many of our Under 10’s participate… and they ALL qualified for Southerns!! (Ok, ok, so EVERYONE who played in the 10’s qualified — but don’t tell that to Micah.) Thanks to all of our players and parents who attended, the OTA family was strong and supportive as ever!
Both Haeleigh and Mallory went to Mobile, Alabama, for the Southern Girls 18 Closed. In the face of some pretty stiff competition, Mallory ended up snagging the only victory of the weekend, but just making it to the that event is quite an achievement. Congratulations to both, it represents a lot of hard work and sacrifice on their part, and it is a wonderful way to end their junior career before heading off to college!
Colgate Jr Open
We had a very large part of the group play in the Colgate, and we did well overall. Below are the top finishers, congratulations to all!
Hayden Shoemake – 2nd place Boys 14 Singles
Sarah Schneringer – 2nd place Girls 18 singles
Gwyneth Gifford – Girls 14 singles Champion
Sanket Srivastava – Boys 16 Novice Champion
Seth Grady – 2nd place Boys 16 Novice
Graham Hardin – Boys 10 Novice Champion
It’s been a summer of hard work,
with hard workers,
who are working hard AND having fun!
Keep up the good work… Go OTA!!!!
It had come to this… two players in the championship match, each trying to write their own OTA legacy, to win the largest OTA Championship tournament ever. In one corner – Mallory Tabler, seeking to become the first girl to win the title since Abbey Sharpe did it three years in a row. She was also vying for the family legacy, as it was older brother Martin who ended Abbey’s reign in the finals 6 years ago. In the other – Jack Vaughan. THE Jack Vaughan, who has surely and steadily been climbing the OTA (and state) ranks. He’s quiet, unassuming, and far tougher than most people realize. Two competitors, both of whom represent themselves and OTA in the best possible way, who are “Respect all, fear none” embodied.
Jack Vaughan adds his name to the list of OTA Champions, withstanding a late rally by Mallory, who – like the champion we all know her to be – refused to go quietly, and made Jack play his best at the end to secure the title.
At nearly 80 players and 11 divisions, there was fierce competition all over the facility for three days. Three very DRY days, thankfully! Here is the list of Division winners:
Djoker (Tournament Champion) – Jack Vaughan def Mallory Tabler
Halep – Gwyn Gifford def Sarah Schneringer
Murray – Sankalp Pandey def Taylor Brandt
Serena – David Cordero (above) def Jack Isola
Raonic – Ogden Wells (below left) def Amrutha Parvathaneni
Sharapova – Zac Curtis (above, with entourage) def Apoorva Krovvidi
Rafa – Katelyn Long (below) def Ashlyn Pursel
Azarenka – Jovan Knight def Kristen Wells
Dimitrov – Abyan Das def Mariska Desselle
Keys – Cameron Isola won the tiebreaker after a round robin tie with Brylee Patterson
Nishikori – John Lacy went undefeated in the 7 player round robin
So congratulations to Jack Vaughan once again, and to all of our division champs! And thank you to all of the parents… the values and sportsmanship that OTA represents is only possible when modeled by all of you. It was a fantastic weekend, and we’re looking forward to a fantastic summer… Go OTA!!!!
Wait… golf can teach us something???
Last weekend, The Masters golf tournament took place, and Jordan Spieth took home “the coveted green jacket” that goes to the tournament champion. (Rafa wouldn’t have much fun biting THAT particular trophy!) I watched none of it, and wish I could have watched less. That’s how much I enjoy golf.
But I did take some time to read about the new champ, and I was struck by the similarities in his approach to his game as in the top champions (Rafa, Djoker, Serena… I’m forgetting SOMEONE, I think) of ours. The section below should be required reading for all players and their parents — I hope it resonates with you as much as it did me.
– Coach Jared
For the entire story — I’ve given only the cliff notes and highlighted parts that struck me — go here: http://sports.yahoo.com/news/jordan-spieth-s-biggest-prize-for-winning-the-masters-%E2%80%93-telling-his-sister-he-won-021655897.html
It’s not that Spieth doesn’t care about running roughshod over the course and the competition. He texted caddie Michael Greller on Sunday morning and said he wanted to get to 20-under par. Considering, at that moment, no one had ever gotten to 19-under par, that was quite the aggressive plan.
But behind that ambition is something else, perhaps best explained through another conversation Spieth had Sunday morning. His dad, Shawn, didn’t say anything to his son before last year’s final round, but this time he did.
“This is the greatest game, the Masters,” Shawn Spieth said. “But it’s still a game.”
That’s the perspective that Jordan Spieth seems to take with him everywhere. His younger brother Steven is not a golfer but a basketball player for Brown. Most of his closest friends don’t play golf. Even Jordan himself grew up playing several sports. There’s a bigger world out there, and Jordan understands it. Even caddie Michael Greller said Saturday that “at the end of the day, golf is just entertainment.”
And when Jordan got up to accept the green jacket, the moment every golfer cherishes as a distant ideal, he began by thanking the club members, the volunteers, and the food and beverage staff.
He then called winning The Masters “the ultimate goal in my life” before correcting himself: “my golf life.”
So although Spieth reveres golf history, relying on Ben Crenshaw and caddie Carl Jackson to prepare him for this week’s tournament, he is not a golf geek. He grew up doing much more than beating balls into nets endlessly like some fast-track kids. That, too, helped him this week. He sees the bigger picture even inside the tiniest frame.