Southern Wins Mills Redgrave 2005 Challenge

October 25, 2005 02:06 PM

The USTA Southern Section started out slow but, in the end, dominated Team Florida at the Mills Redgrave 2005 Challenge, winning the Mills-Redgrave Cup by a combined team score of 55-26. The Southern team, comprised of 18 players representing six Southern states, was at the top of its game, even winning 13 of 18 singles matches on Sunday after clinching overall victory on Saturday.

First contested in 1994, the Mills-Redgrave Challenge is a fun, yet highly competitive, team competition between the Southern and Florida sections. It is played in honor of Dr. Alfred Mills, a longtime promoter of junior tennis in the Florida Section, and DeWitt Redgrave III, former executive director of the Southern Section.

The teams are comprised of the top three ranked boys and girls in the 14 and under, 16 and under and 18 and under divisions. They play against their counterparts from the USTA Florida section within the same age group. Every match won counts as a point, therefore cheering for teammates becomes quite important.

Team Southern has won the competition ten of the last twelve years.

This year's tournament was held at the Racquet Club of the South and began with boys' Singles on Friday morning. By lunch time, everyone had played in an event and Southern was leading by slight margin, 10-8.

During lunch, the teams were treated to a question and answer session with 19 year old Scoville Jenkins of Atlanta, GA. Jenkins who recently turned pro is currently competing on the USTA Pro Circuit and most recently made it to the second round of the US Open where he was defeated by Rafael Nadal. The Q & A session was followed by the doubles events.

The following juniors competed in this year's event:

Girls 14sBoys 14s
Melanie Oudin, GABo Seal, TN
Kathryn Talbert, NCRyan Noble, NC
Ebie Wilson, ALTennys Sandgren, TN
Girls 16sBoys 16s
Joanna Mather, GAHouston Barrick, TN
Sarah Guzick, SCRyan Smith, GA
Lauren Meier, GAEric Quigley, KY
Girls 18sBoys 18s
Catherine Newman, NCDavey Sandgren, TN
Reka Zsilinska, NCKyle Baker, GA
Laurianne Henry, SCWill Guzick, SC
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Unlike in years past Southern's victory over Florida was sealed on Saturday.
"This competition historically has come down to the last day (Sunday) and the last few matches," explained Sandy Hastings, Director of Community Development & Grants for the USTA Southern Section.
"What I found to be the most exciting was watching the kids come out on Sunday, knowing they had already won, and winning 13 of 18 singles matches."
The players all agreed that being part of a team and cheering each other on are what makes this event so much fun to compete in.

“Cheering on your teammates is the best part,” said Lauren Meier (Woodstock, GA). “I love the team atmosphere.”

“You get to root for new and old friends,” added Joanna Mather (Duluth, GA).

The competition is tough for these juniors. They are competing against elite players in their age group and are out to defend the honor of their section. The juniors enjoy the support of their teammates and the opportunity to joke with their friends. The older kids cheer for the younger kids and vice versa.

“It is more fun to play in the team tournament than in the individual tournaments,” said Bo Seal (Chattanooga, TN).

“It is a great time and you get to see people you have not seen in a while,” said Ryan Noble (Fayetteville, NC).

Whether these juniors are able to make a return trip to the Mills Redgrave Challenge, as Eric Quigley (Louisville, KY) did, or hope to make many more like Melanie Oudin (Marietta, GA), the one thing they all have in common is the wonderful team camraderie and getting to share a room with friends (instead of their parents!).

“I really enjoy competing in team events such as the Mills-Redgrave,” said Oudin. “This is definitely an event that I would want to participate in again if invited.”