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Taylor Davidson's Southern Junior Cup Blog

Taylor's Friday Blog

Taylor Davidson

Today was the first day of Southern Junior Cup! My team, Team North Carolina, played against Kentucky and Tennessee. The majority of our team members got about five hours of sleep after being out late at dinner the night before. We all agreed it was best that the coaches didn’t find out. Warm up started at 6:45am at the alternate site, GPS. We started out hitting on the indoor courts but then moved outside to finish our warm up. The sun had not risen yet, so we hit in the dark for about ten minutes. After warm up was the team picture. Every year, it’s the same thing when it comes time to take the picture – the guys decide to be outcasts. "Hey guys, no one smile! No one smile! Dude, if you smile…" So, the girls all look pretty and the boys look mad.

Right before the matches start, they line up the opposing teams from each state and do the player introductions. It’s usually just a competition to see which team can cheer louder when their teammate is called. First our state is announced, then our age group, and then our name. You shake hands with your opponents and the opposing team’s coach, and head to your assigned court. Team NC played against Kentucky first. Friday always begins with doubles. It’s nice to get in a full two rounds of doubles before singles. Today I started out playing mixed doubles at #1. My partner was one of my good friends, so it wasn’t an awkward match. The question, though, was if we could play together without arguing.

Our match actually went very smoothly and we played well together. We won 8-0! Once we came off the court, it was time for cheer duty. North Carolina is normally one of the loudest states at this tournament and today was no exception. Screaming at the top of your lungs for hours at a time can also cause you to lose your voice, which many of my teammates learned. After adding up all the matches we won and lost, Team NC was off to a great start against Kentucky. We won 8 matches and lost 1.

Next we played doubles against Tennessee. The lineup changes for each new state, so this time I played regular doubles. My partner and I got off to a rough start, but with a little help from our coach, we pulled through with an 8-4 win. After another hour or so and a lot more cheering, team NC was beating Tennessee 6-3 after doubles.

After a quick team huddle, we were released for lunch break. We had a total of thirty minutes to go eat lunch and be back at the site for singles. Luckily, we all found a Subway two minutes from the site. We piled into any car that had an open seat. The break went much faster than it should have, and before we knew it we were back at the courts. Our team had another short warm up then. A lot of them were complaining that their food hadn’t been digested yet. There wasn’t much we could do, though, because next thing we knew, they were calling out our names again and assigning us to our courts. It was time for singles and you could feel the tension start to rise.

Boys went on the court first today. All nine boys’ matches are put on, then as each one finishes a girls’ match is put on. Usually it’s done in order by age group but today was a little hectic. All of our first singles matches were against Kentucky. Our boys had some really close matches. They got us a good start, and our girls took care of business. It was unexpectedly hot today, though. Almost all of us got sunburned. After tallying up our wins and losses, team NC beat Kentucky soundly.

Next was singles against Tennessee. Boys went on court first again. This time they got off to a very rough start – all three of our Boys 18s players lost the first set in each of their matches. Our Boys 16s were down as well. The Boys 14s took care of business quickly. Despite being down a set, two of our three Boys 18s guys won their match in a tiebreaker. The girls did well, too. I was one of the last courts on, so I didn’t get to cheer for my teammates as much as usual. There were some serious line call issues against Tennessee, on both the boys and girls side. In Southern Cup, they don’t allow you to question your opponent’s line call or call a referee to your court. The coaches are supposed to help watch the lines and keep the cheating to a minimum. Honestly, I’m not a big fan of this. Without referees, there’s no one to keep the matches fair. The coaches are obviously biased. If there was one thing I’d change about this tournament, that would be it; there would be referees available to be called to court by the players. This tournament is just like any other tournament. Every person out there playing wants to win their match more than anything – some even go to extremes to get the W. The refs are there for the benefit of the players, so I think they should definitely be available at this tournament.

Team North Carolina beat Tennessee 19-8 in overall matches. We had a team huddle after that and talked about the day. Mostly our coaches told us what we did well and what we didn’t do well. As captain of the team, I was asked to make dinner plans. We all agreed to meet at Outback at 7:15pm.

Half of the team ended up being late to dinner because they got lost, but everyone ended up making it there by 7:45. We had to divide the team up at several different tables due to the lack of an 18-person-table at Outback. Once we were all seated and comfortable, we started talking. I would almost guarantee there was no one else in that restaurant that was louder than we were. We finished dinner and moved the party outside. We stood and talked outside the front entrance of Outback for about ten minutes, took a few team pictures, and went back to our hotels.

Today was tough, but nothing compared to what tomorrow will be. We are in the gold bracket, playing SC and GA. We’re definitely going to have to bring our A game. Talent wise, we’re the best team here. It all just depends on the day and tomorrow’s it. This is my fifth and last year playing Southern Cup for Team North Carolina – our sights are set for 1st, and we are not going down without a fight.

 


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