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Ozark Tennis Academy Travels the South

14 players from Ozark Tennis Academy journeyed all over the South to compete in the Southern Sectional Championships.  Each division saw 128 players from 9 different states enter in what is one of the largest tournaments in the country.

Competing for OTA were:

Boys/Girls 10 and unders – Ella Coleman, Noah Butler, Colin Clay, Carter Swope, and Andrew Schweitzer

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B/G 12s – Brooke Killingsworth

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B/G 14s – Emma Baker

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B/G 16s – Ryan Hargrove, Andrew Miller, Jack Neal, Catherine Nettle, and Kruti Shah

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B/G 18s – Alexis Beaver and Kyle Henry

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The group finished with 19 combined wins, with Ella Coleman snagging 3 on her own.  Noah Butler, Carter Swope, and Alexis Beaver all won 2 rounds of singles as well.

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Even more impressively, the group wasn’t even at full-strength!  Dylan DeLuca (Boys 16s) and Avery Hughes (Girls 12s) both qualified but were unable to attend, while Patrick Keith (Boys 16s), Hayden Swope (Boys 12s), and Reagan Tunnell (Girls 10s) were high alternates who would have made the cut if they had been able to enter.

As you can see by the pictures, it wasn’t ALL about just cutthroat tennis!  We all had a great time, and hopefully it will prove to be an experience that continues to push the entire program to greater heights.

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OTA Qualifies 13 for Southerns!

For the 7th straight year, OTA has qualified over more than 10 players for the Southern Championships, with 13 making the Arkansas endorsement list!  In addition, 3 more players are first alternates, and there is a possibility of at least another 6 getting in to Southerns.  And check out some of these pictures… we had FUN, too!

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Here is our qualification list:

Ella Coleman – Girls 10 – 5th place

Reagan Tunnell – Girls 10 (3rd Alternate)

Carter Swope – Boys 10

Noah Butler – Boys 10 (1st Alternate)

Colin Clay – Boys 10 (3rd Alternate)

Brooke Killingsworth – Girls 12 – 3rd place

Avery Hughes – Girls 12 – 5th place

Hayden Swope – Boys 12 (1st Alternate)

Emma Baker – Girls 14 – 5th place

Catherine Nettle – Girls 16 – 3rd place

Kruti Shah – Girls 16 – 6th place (1st Alternate)

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Dylan Deluca – Boys 16 – 2nd place

Ryan Hargrove – Boys 16 – 4th place

Andrew Miller – Boys 16 – 5th place

Jack Neal – Boys 16 – 6th place

Patrick Keith – Boys 16 (2nd Alternate)

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Lexi Beaver – Girls 18

Kyle Henry – Boys 18

Luke Lundstrum – Boys 18

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Some weekend highlights:

Overall, it was a great weekend, and once again OTA showed that not only are we a quality program, but one with fantastic sportsmanship and integrity.  Our OTA coaches were so impressed with how our players fought, and the way they handled both winning and losing.  Placing 10 in the top 6 at the Qualifier is an incredibly solid showing, but it was the overall group performance that truly makes us proud!

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  • Straight numbers – OTA took 45 players and qualified 13.  Over a quarter of the group??  That’s awesome.

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  • Big division – We graduated an extremely tough class of boys this year, a class that routinely saw OTA having half of the qualifiers (or more) in their age division, and was always competing for the title at the toughest tournaments.  Losing them, it was a common belief that OTA would see some of our dominance-through-depth fade.  Enter our Boys 16s.  We took 4 of the top 6 spots, and did it with some new names and faces.  Dylan is a constant, having been in the finals 3 of the last 5 years.  Ryan is a rising force; a bigger, tougher version of the boy who showed up last summer.  Andrew and Jack have kicked in the door to the big boys club, and taken a seat at the main table.  These two truly exemplify what OTA is all about.  They were nowhere in the conversation in the Boys 12s, barely there in the 14s, and now are a full-on threat in the 16s.  This type of progress is what we love to see, and we are extremely proud of them, and our entire Boys 16s division!!

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  • Rockin’ girls – For the first time ever, OTA qualified a girl in EVERY age division!  Way to represent, girls!!!

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  • Double trouble – We had 4 players place in both singles and doubles.  Brooke and Avery placed second in the Girls 12 division, and Dylan and Ryan kept OTA’s perfect streak alive (at least one division champion in all 8 years of our existence) by winning the Boys 16 division.  Way to go!

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  • A good sport – Catherine Nettle not only made a huge statement with her performance, but she did it in the ultimate OTA-style.  She crashed through to the top 3, and in the process was awarded the Girls Sportsmanship Award for the tournament.  Nice job, Extra Credit!

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  • (Cross)Fitness pays off – We’ve had a strong crew doing CrossFit since last November (or longer).  Dylan, Catherine, Ryan, Andrew, Jack, Kruti, and PK are the only members of that group that played the Qualifier.  Check out how that crew did: Everyone but PK placed and qualified for Southerns… and he is 2nd alternate!!  Coincidence?  Um, no.  Thanks to Coach Lee and Coach Wendi for helping OTA reach our goals!

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Thank you again to all of our parents for your contributions last weekend, you guys were fantastic… as always!!  We are excited to build on this result, and look forward to doing it this summer.  Go OTA!!!!

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Red River Shootout

Grace, Yaz, Mary eating

15 OTA players made the trip to Shreveport last weekend, and it turned out to be an absolutely fantastic weekend!  The weather was phenomenal, which made for good tennis and enjoyable spectating… which is OF COURSE the most important thing!!

A quick look at some of our result highlights:

  • Emma Baker won the Girls 14s without dropping a set the whole tournament.   Lexi Beaver beat the #1 seed in the first round in a 3rd set breaker, then won her semifinal in another breaker, en route to finishing 2nd.  And Hayden Swope followed up last week’s finals appearance with a 3rd place finish.  3 out of 15 in the top 3 is a pretty solid showing, so great job!

 

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  • In addition to those in the Top 3, Brooke Killingsworth, Catherine Nettle, and Kyle Henry all won out in the back draw, making it to the conso finals (which due to time restrictions are not played in these events).

So that’s how we did.  And, as usual, that’s only part of the story!  Here are some of my favorite moments from the weekend:

  • Listening to Coach Beau (aka, The Varmint) and (mostly) Hunter Nall trade hunting/redneck stories for 6 ½ hours.  Seriously, it was awesome.
  • At the end of Friday’s matches, Hunter gutted out an 11-9 tiebreaker in the 2nd set to close out his victory.  About 2 seconds after his match finished, Jack Neal split sets and went into a breaker of his own.  At the first side change, Andrew Miller sighed and said, “I think it’s easier playing than watching.”  For those that don’t know, this isn’t common.  Tennis is an individual, often cutthroat sport, where every player is looking out for him/herself.  For a 15-year-old kid to be so into his OTA teammates’ matches speaks first to Andrew’s quality of character, but hopefully also to the culture of our program.

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12 girls in Shreveport

  • This week’s Quote of the Week is, “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall,” from Confucius.  Patrick Swope sent it to me, because he thought it was appropriate for the weekend.  I totally agreed.  I generally think that the most difficult match to play is usually the 3rd and 4th place match, because you are getting over the disappointment of being so close to the finals, but you still have to gather yourself to go play an extremely tough opponent.  Hayden Swope did just that, dropping his semifinal in a fashion that left him feeling as though he never brought his “A” game, and then bouncing back to take down a very solid opponent for 3rd.   Well done, Haydo!

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  • But, if there is a situation that might be even more difficult, it’s when you are one of the top seeds and lose early.  The embarrassment is what makes this kind of loss so difficult.  Having to walk around the facility for the rest of the weekend, thinking everyone is looking at you like the overrated loser who couldn’t hold their ranking.  Then you have to check in the next day and play consos, where it is easy to fall prey to the fallacy that you have nothing to gain, and only something to lose in every match that’s left.  Just ask Kyle.  Seeded #2 in the Boys 18s, he lost a frustrating 3-setter in the first round.  How did he handle it?  Won out in the consos, dropping only 4 games in 2 matches.  Or you could ask Brooke.  She also lost first round.  Except she was the #1 seed.  She showed up the next morning and absolutely punished the consolation draw.  In fact, her image grew because of how she handled that situation, as coaches, tournament officials, and other parents all took notice.  I told someone today that I’ve never been happier with a tournament where so many of our top seeds lost.  They didn’t understand.  But I know that those players have won, and will win again.  To watch Kyle and Brooke handle themselves like true champions is as rewarding as it gets.

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  • But my favorite moment of the whole tournament happened before the first match was even played.  We had warmed up, and I wanted to get Jake Keefauver some more hitting in before he left for his site.  Before I could ask anyone, Kyle piped up, “I’ll hit with you, come on.”  Jake is 12, and just won his first STA Level 3 match this weekend.  Kyle is 17, and one of the top players in the state of Arkansas.  Again, this is first and foremost a(nother) reflection on Kyle’s character, but is also an aspect of OTA that we absolutely love.  The Varmint (Coach Beau) said to me in the hotel on Saturday how impressed he is with our kids and parents.  How he’s never been around a group like that.  It’s sometimes hard for those new to the program, or outside of it, to understand all of our talk about “OTA family.”  But it’s real.  And we are grateful to all of you for making it that way!

So there you have it, the 2013 Red River Shootout round up.  Thanks to all that went, it was a great weekend!!

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