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Rocky Road Even With Top Players

Story and photos by Ron Cioffi/USTA Southern

Success can be a staple of some Junior Team Tennis teams. Many repeatedly advance to the Section Championships, especially at the younger levels.

Not necessarily at the high end. That was noted by Tennessee 18 Advanced High coach David Poole. He took two 18s Advanced teams to fourth-place finishes in the USTA JTT national tournaments in 2015 and 2016.

Can his 2019 team match its predecessors?

“That might not happen. I have a much younger team now than those teams,” Poole responded before their final match. However, he was proved wrong as Tennessee beat Mississippi for the Southern title. They earned a spot in nationals and will play Nov. 14-17 in San Antonio, TX.

“It’s been a great experience to bring these kids together. It’s a last-minute team, who wished that had (played Junior Team Tennis) before. They found out how much fun it is.
“They have been surprised at the high-level of competition, both here and at the state tournament,” said Poole who is the Director of Tennis at The Virginian. The team is from the Tri-City area of Johnson City, Bristol and Kingsport.

Tough opponents is nothing new to Poole’s players. “They have played junior tournaments for years and range from the Top 50 to Top 150 in the (Southern) section. Three of the boys are the top player in each of our three cities. Plus, we added a top player from Knoxville.”

“I figure these kids will want to continue to play JTT. I look forward to having success in the years to come,” he added on Saturday.

On Sunday, with a champion’s sign in his grasp, Poole realized the future is now.