Sportsmen's Center host USTA's 12-and-under tournament

Boys’ 12 and Under Sectional Champion Marti Sarquella of Acton is shown with finalist Tanner Oberg from Weston at Sportsmen’s Tennis Club in Dorchester last weekend. Photo courtesy USTA New England

From June 19 until June 22, the Sportsmen’s Tennis & Enrichment Center hosted the United States Tennis Association’s (USTA) 12-and-Under New England Junior Sectionals, the most important tournament of the year for young tennis players. The youngsters must qualify through a series of lower-level tournaments in New England throughout the year and compete for the chance to go to the USTA National Junior Championships.

The Junior Sectionals for different age groups are traditionally held in one location. However, due to socially distancing requirements from Covid-19, the tournament was broken up this year into four locations divided by age group. The 12-and-Under competition at Sportsmen’s drew the top 32 boys and girls in New England.

The preliminary rounds of the single-elimination event were held on Saturday and Sunday, with semi-finals on Monday and the finals on Tuesday.
The winner from the girl’s division was Nancy Lee of Belmont, while Marti Sarquella of Acton took home the top prize for the boys.

According to James Maimonis, media & communications manager for USTA New England, the decision to host Sectionals at Sportsmen’s was an easy one.

“They’ve been such an amazing club and member of our organization for so many years. They were gracious enough to host, and they’ve got some great people over there who can run the tournament.”

Concerning the players, Maimonis added, “There’s a lot of really good 12-and-under players, especially some of the girls who are nationally ranked and will be competing, who will be doing really well in a few years in some of the higher divisions.”

Andy Crane, the tournament director at Sportsmen’s and coach of the Boston Latin Academy Boy’s High Co-Op Team, echoed Maimonis, saying the level of play at this year’s 12-and-under sectionals was “nothing less than phenomenal.

“The young players today are better than they ever have been,” said Crane. “They train better, their conditioning is better, the equipment is better, and these 12-year-olds look like semi-pros, some of them. It’s just amazing how talented they are. It was a real treat to put this tournament on.”

Crane also noted that although this is the first time Sportsmen’s has hosted sectionals, the club is hardly new to USTA tournaments or community programming.

“Sportsmen’s is one of the major hosts of USTA tournaments in all of New England,” he said. “We hold USTA tournaments almost every weekend between May and early October. The only reason we don’t hold them the rest of the year is that the club is so busy with its junior programs that there just isn’t space.

“Tournaments like this are a great thing for our community, but it’s important to recognize that this is just a small part of what Sportsmen’s does for the local community. Not just the tennis programs, but the academic programs that exist there for the community, the health programs for local families. The programming there and the facility have come so far in the last ten years. It’s really, really impressive.

“I’m not part of the planning team,” said Crane, “and I don’t get involved in the academic stuff, but I see it because I also coach high school tennis, and I see some kids who grow up there and end up on my team, and I think it’s an amazing asset for the community.”

For a full list of USTA 12-and-under results, visit https://playtennis.usta.com/Competitions/sportsmens-tennis-club/Tourname....

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