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Southern 18s Girls Win National Team Crown

August 14, 2019 11:06 AM

By James Beck/Special to USTA Southern

It was difficult to top what a seven-member Southern group of girls accomplished in the USTA Girls’ 18 National Team Championships in Claremont, CA. The Southern girls won their second straight national team title in impressive fashion, highlighting a nearly two-week visit to California for many junior girls in the competition.

It was a fun time in Claremont, and the seven girls responded with some great tennis, especially in doubles. They lost only one of their 12 doubles matches that came from a format of six singles and three doubles in each of the team's four intersectional pairings.

Three of the team championship girls came from Charleston, SC. Charleston juniors Anna Ross, Lara Schneider and just turned 16-year-old Allie Gretkowski combined to achieve an 11-0 individual record in doubles during the Claremont competition often called the Junior Fed Cup or intersectionals.

But these three couldn't have won the 18-and-under national team championship without the overall success of teammates Brooke Killingsworth of Rogers, AR, Carson Tanguilig of Alpharetta, GA, Jenna Thompson of Charlotte and Elise Mills of Prosperity, SC.

While Gretkowski and Ross both posted 4-0 records in doubles, 3-0 playing together, Killingsworth was the overall team leader with an 8-0 record, split between singles and doubles, and Mills put together a 4-0 singles/doubles record. Schneider and Tanguilig posted 3-0 records playing doubles together. Thompson was 3-1 in doubles.


"Of course, having two of the RPTA (Randy Pate Tennis Academy) girls on the team (with her)  was awesome," said Gretkowski, who also made the Girls’ 16 singles quarterfinals in San Diego, about the national team championship in Claremont.

"We had great team spirit and we all supported each other. No matter if we were five courts away we could always hear each other cheering. I think going into it we knew we had a good chance to win it based on the level of our team."

Tanguilig was equally impressed by the team support in Claremont.

"It feels awesome to be a part of the winning team this year. We grew closer as a team as the week went on which I think was a big thing for us as well as our team spirit. I don't think I heard a louder team than us," Tanguilig said.

"We didn't put much pressure on ourselves I don't think because we knew we had the ability to win and we were enjoying ourselves too much to feel pressure."

Schneider also enjoyed the team support. "We've all known and played against each other for years and years, and it was nice for once to be on the same team," Schneider said.

"We are all really great doubles players so getting that doubles point every day definitely helped us go into our singles."


Schneider especially liked having two other players from the Randy Pate Academy of Mount Pleasant, SC., with her in Claremont.

"It was really fun to have Allie (Gretkowski) and Anna (Ross) by my side on the team. Training together really helped us decide the doubles teams accordingly because we all know each other's games very well," said Schneider, who has committed to play college tennis for Ohio State.

"Overall it was such a fun atmosphere with the girls and especially our awesome coach, Angela Haynes. We definitely couldn't have done it without her." Haynes is a former WTA Tour player from California.

Ross has other things on her mind this week. "I head off to Vanderbilt Wednesday. I just recently turned 18 on August 1," she said.

But "winning 18s' intersectionals feels surreal. I absolutely loved getting the chance to compete for my section. Our team bonded instantly and we had a really strong support system behind us. Our coach, Angie, was the most uplifting and supportive person at the tournament, and we were lucky enough to have her as a coach and mentor," Ross said.

It also was nice that Ross and Gretkowski got to team up to win three doubles matches in Claremont. They had finished third playing together in the USTA Girls' 18 Clay Court Championships at LTP Tennis in Mount Pleasant. But Ross played in 18s in San Diego, while Gretkowski played in 16s.

 "I really enjoyed having Lara and Allie on the team. We train together to reach our goals, and achieving a common goal and winning the Fed Cup with them was really special," Ross said.

Killingsworth also was thrilled by the competition in which she went 4-0 in singles and 4-0 in doubles. "Winning Fed Cup for the South was a wonderful experience," Killingsworth said.

"Getting to know the girls in my section and playing alongside them was one of the most fun times of my junior career. I'm so excited to see what each of the girls do over the next few years."

As for Killingsworth, she has committed to join the Wake Forest tennis program in the fall of 2020.

James Beck is the longtime tennis columnist for the Charleston (SC) Post and Courier newspaper. He can be reached at jamesbecktennis@gmail.com.