July 1 – July 5 2017
It was a great honor and pleasure for me to represent Northern California along with other 7 section’s top junior players to compete in the 2017 USTA Intersectional Team Championship in BG14. My teammates were Yuu Ishikawa, Allura Zamarripa, Maribella Zamarripa, Brian Chong, Max Fardanesh, John Kim, and Jake Vassel. It was a strong deep team and what made us even stronger is that we are all good friends and we had a great time on and off the courts, playing our matches, cheering for each other and just hanging out and having fun. It was the first year I had gone to this tournament and it was an amazing experience. The bonding in our team was unbelievable! The team coach, Skip Redondo, told us we reminded him of a family because of how close we were. We always spent time together before and after our matches. We were motivating each other to perform at the highest capacity and ultimately to win. We had the privilege to play at the Yarbrough Tennis Center in Auburn, Alabama, beautiful place with many trees and therefore a lot of much needed shade. It was very humid there, which made us hydrate 3 times more than we usually do. Along with humidity, it was often over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Some of us had grueling 2-3 hour matches, and it took a lot of stretching after to recover and bounce back.
I got to play the first position for my team. Being number 1 means taking responsibility. Often times, your team relies on you for that extra point. I had to dig deep and find that courage to step up and play hard. My opponents never gave me an easy way out, and, I had to try even harder and put an extra effort into my game as the tournament was on clay and it is not a familiar (read: comfortable) surface for me. I had some very memorable matches. Topping SoCal’s number 1 player 7-5 7-5 in a 2.5 hour battle was a big and very important win for me because she is a phenomenal player and in the past I haven’t been able to beat her in a tournament. Another tough match was against Texas’ #1 where I fell short 6-4 1-6 4-6. It was a match to remember, great learning experience that I am sure will be very beneficial in the future.
And then team NorCal was in the final. It was a big day for all of us and we were a little nervous but hugely excited and pumped. Opening act – doubles matches, boys, girls and mixed. Our boys, Max and Brian, had an impressive 8:3 win, and Zamarripa twins, Allura and Maribella, were on fire bringing NorCal another strong victory, 8:4. Jake and I played mixed doubles. Tough match. I am sure it was a major nail biter for those who watched. At 7 all we finally broke opponents serve and got ahead 8:7. And then I was serving for the match. No pressure, right?! But we did it, 9:7 in our match and team’s going into singles competition having 3:0 lead, needing to win only two matches to win the whole tournament. I was the first one to finish my singles match with a solid 6:2, 6:1 win. So we only needed one more match to go to us. Just one. But it was not easy, opponents were playing incredibly well, we had couple of quick losses and split sets. The cheering got louder. And then John Kim won his match, 7:6, 6:4. That was it. We won!! What an ultra proud moment it was! In the end, NorCal came out on top by defeating Eastern 6 matches to 3. It was the first time Northern California had ever won intersectionals, and I was happy to be part of making history for my section. I hope that in two years, we can get the same team together and dominate the 16s.