By MORGAN SINGER | Junior Reporter
The Palisades Tennis Center’s Gold Juniors squad headed to Indian Wells for the USTA Junior Team Tennis Sectionals earlier this month, winning the 12U Intermediate Division title.
Before the matches, kids were dressed in matching shirts with parents bustling around taking quick, discreet pictures of their children, and coaches pulling their team together for one last group huddle.
At that time Coach Doug Winter spoke with me about feelings he had about the tournament.
“I can’t say I was nervous about anything. I was looking forward to seeing how the kids reacted to being on a bigger stage. So far the kids have performed very well. The only tough part is making out the lineup because it’s a unique format. You have to play two singles and two doubles and it’s gender neutral,” Winter said.
Coach Courtney Gulihur seemed positive about the team’s outcome. She admitted that “what every coach is worried about is going out on the first round. I actually wasn’t really worried about anything. I knew we had a great team.”
However, some of the girls on the team admitted they were really tense. Halsey Hulse (number one doubles) explained that she was “most nervous that everyone would win and I would lose like 0-8 and I would make the team lose,” but in the end Halsey laughed it off saying that she knew “the team would be really good.”
Claudia Goore (number two doubles) also decided that they were going to have a positive outcome. She was most excited about “winning and actually going to regionals,” but then she explained that she was also a little on edge. She thought that the teams might “be much better than the teams we played this season.”
Noe Winter (number one doubles) feared that “all the teams would be really good and we would lose all our matches and have to go back. I was trying to be very relaxed and tried to win.”
Drew Singer (number two singles) was most nervous about “having really hard players beating every single one of our players in every match that we played.” Drew then looked back on his performance saying that, “I played well and aggressive in every match. We all played as hard as we could.”
Noah Zaret (number one singles) brushed off his nerves by telling me that he was only concerned about “not winning the point after a really long rally.”
Dashell Flynn (number two doubles) said that he “tried not to be concerned about anything during the game, but I was mostly concerned about weather conditions and it postponing our game to next weekend”.
There was one other team member—Atticus Parker—who was “an amazing player and brought the team very, very far,” according to Drew Singer. Jenn Levi, the team manager (who worked really hard all season for the team) explained that “due to Atticus’ advanced USTA ranking points, he was unable to compete in the current flight.” Atticus helped the team get to the finals. Everyone wished he could have been there.
On the final game of the tournament, the team was rained out twice and there were whispers that the game would be postponed. But after 15 minutes, those doubts were washed away and the rain was not a problem after those two waiting periods.
The weekend was an amazing opportunity for the kids to practice their tennis skills and to get the gold—actually it was a green and gold trophy with a spinning tennis ball on top. Nice job, Pali Gold!