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Southern Smashers Defeat Texas for WTT Junior Nationals Title

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (August 5, 2010) – The Southern Smashers won the WTT Junior Nationals for the fourth time in the past six years, defeating Texas TNT 37-35 in Overtime at the George E. Barnes Tennis Center in San Diego, Calif.
The WTT Junior Nationals, which is hosted by WTT co-founder Billie Jean King, is an invitational national junior event featuring 16 coed teams from throughout the U.S. The teams use the World TeamTennis format during their three days of non-elimination draw competition. The 2010 event marks the 15th anniversary of the tournament.
The Smashers, representing the USTA Southern Section, jumped out to an early 12-6 lead after the first two sets of doubles. Clare Mendell of Canton, Ga., and Ashley Kitchen of Hilton Head Island, S.C., outlasted Farris Cunningham of Houston and Casey Sutton of Austin, Texas, 6-4 in girls doubles. Roberto Hennis of Raleigh, N.C., and Chase Baker of Suwannee, Ga., built on the lead with a 6-2 victory in boys doubles.
In girls singles Mendell overpowered Emily Olivier of Spring, Texas, 6-2, while teammates Abigail Owens of Duluth, Ga., topped Cunningham 6-3.
Texas TNT started to turn the tide in boys singles as Robin Chou of Austin, Texas, edged Hennis 6-5, while Eliot Blatt of Austin, Texas, beat Parker Chang of Winston Salem, N.C., 6-4.
Trailing by 10 games heading into mixed doubles, Texas rallied with Greg Haugen of Austin, Texas, and Olivier defeating Chang and Kitchen 6-1. Blatt and Sutton won the designated mixed doubles match over Owens and Baker 6-2. Baker and Owens won the first game in overtime to win the title for the Southern Smashers. USTA Southern teams also won the event in 2005, 2007, and 2008.
"Our team had really good chemistry," said Smashers coach Susannah Cook of Chattanooga, Tenn. "We came together as a team, especially when it really counted in those last few games. I’m really proud of this group."
Two California teams faced off in the battle for third place with defending champion San Diego Riptide (Youth Tennis San Diego) defeating the OC Lightning 45-33.
Smooth Strokes received the Maureen Connolly Brinker Team Spirit Award which is voted on by coaches, players and tournament officials for a team’s outstanding sportsmanship and camaraderie. Smooth Strokes received a $1,000 check along with the award. Team members of Smooth Strokes are Kyle Burton, Madison, Tenn.; Jordan Harrell, Lithonia, Ga.; Anthony LaRue, Louisville, Ky.; Brandi Nelson, Jonesboro, Ga.; Ja'Haun Freeman-Clark, Atlanta, Ga.; and Rankin Anderson, Stone Mountain, Ga. Alyce Meadors is the coach of Smooth Strokes.
CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL: Southern Smashers def. Texas TNT 37-35 OT
Chase Baker, Suwannee, Ga.
Parker Chang, Winston Salem, N.C.
Roberto Hennis, Raleigh, N.C.
Abigail Owens, Duluth, Ga.
Clare Mendell, Canton, Ga.
Ashley Kitchen, Hilton Head Island, S.C.
COACH: Susannah Cook
2nd place: TEXAS TNT (USTA Texas)
Robin Chou, Austin, Texas
Greg Haugen, Austin, Texas
Eliot Blatt, Austin, Texas
Farris Cunningham, Houston, Texas
Casey Sutton, Austin, Texas
Emily Olivier, Spring, Texas
COACH: Bobby Reeves



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