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Middle States squad shows Nationals is for all ages

November 5, 2016 08:56 PM

By Ricky Martinez, special to USTA.com

TUCSON, ARIZ. – The Middle States section team competing this weekend in the USTA League 18 & Over 7.0 and 9.0 National Championships in Tucson has one unique quality: its average age is 23.

The team, which plays out of the Conrad Weiser Tennis Association facilities in Robesonia, Pa., has won three straight Eastern Pennsylvania district championships and won the Middle States championships in 2014 and 2016. The roster is made up of individuals ranging from 18 to 28 years old and includes both former and current college players. For this squad of millennials, it’s their first trip to Nationals.

“This is the third year that we have had our team,” commented co-captain Ryan Knarr, who is the oldest on the roster at age 28. “The biggest thing is to have a well-rounded team.”

Co-captain Alyssa Gleason said she was also diligent in “making sure everyone can commit. We are very proactive in making sure everyone is on the same schedule, has the proper funding and books their flights and hotels.”

A huge aspect of the team for the pair of captains is helping a younger generation see that they can play tennis beyond college or high school.

“It is awesome that players can have a team environment outside of college,” said Gleason. “Right now, college and high school are the options for team sports in tennis. We all played in USTA tournaments growing up, but USTA Leagues allow us to be a part of team, travel, compete and build each other up. I think the players love it too and that’s why they come back year after year.”

The duo also play a key role outside of their club in bringing a younger generation to USTA League by serving on the Adult Competition Committee for USTA Middle States.

“We want everyone to see that you can continue to have the team aspect that you had in college or high school, and continue to do it at a 9.0 or 10.0 level,” said Knarr, who is also a member of the USTA Middle States board of directors. "It gives players a little taste of what it is like to compete at this level. The biggest thing is to show them is that USTA Leagues are great no matter what age you are.”

It’s a sentiment that Gleason agrees with.

“There is so much opportunity to play after college,” added Gleason. “You can be a part of a team and play your whole life.”