USTA’s Junior Team Tennis (JTT) is locally wrapping up the most successful season on record. Due in part to Covid restrictions, tennis nationally has been experiencing growth of 4 million players overall with 1 million in the South alone, which also includes a near 40% first-time player increase.
Golden Isles Tennis Association (GITA) sponsors the local league of children who compete on about 20 different teams ages 10-18: Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced. Approximately 400 local youth from Savannah to Brunswick competed for 2 seasons toward a July State Championship in Macon Georgia. Universal Tennis Rating (UTR) and USTA ranking points are awarded along the way which can influence college scholarships.
Our own 18U intermediate team from Hinesville (Hinesville United), under the direction of 9-year Bradwell Tennis Coach Ken Scharnagl, joined with those from Effingham, Glynn County, Statesboro, Richmond Hill, and Pierce County to compete. According to Local League Coordinator Robert Brown, the GITA region qualified 10 teams for advancement to the John Drew Tennis Center at July’s end.
Although Hinesville United did not advance this year, a team did qualify 2 years ago and placed 3rd overall in their intermediate division. This year’s Summer 2021 team is pictured below.
JTT is a USTA league product for youth from ages 8 to 18. Local USTA pro and former high school coach Robert Brown began operating the league about 20 years ago in South Carolina as a way to keep racquets in the hands of players for more of the year. He since has moved to Georgia to grow the sport here also.
By way of giving lessons to Scharnagl’s son (Adam, class of 2019 Bradwell), Brown introduced Scharnagl to JTT, who has led a team for the past 3 seasons during the Winter and Summer.
JTT is co-ed and includes: Boys and Girls Singles, Boys and Girls Doubles, plus Mixed Doubles, in a pro-set format where total number of games is the winning criteria.
“We are ever looking for new divisions, new coaches and new areas to grow,” comments Brown. Scharnagl plans to form a 14U Beginners team this year (Liberty Legends).
For more information about tennis opportunities like JTT in Liberty County, visit www.usta.com and/or contact Ken Scharnagl at 912-977-1086.