Pelham Racquet Club juniors win three titles

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Continuing what appears to be a history of success, USPTA Pro Rusty Wilkes led three Pelham Racquet Club junior teams to state titles at the Junior Team Tennis State Championships for Alabama held at Lagoon Park in Montgomery.

The event was held Aug. 5-6.

This year the Pelham Racquet Club Heat 12 and under team defeated Gardendale, Mobile and Inverness to repeat as state champions for 2006. They won last year, but there was no sectional to advance to. Wilkes said he was excited that this year&8217;s team could advance. He also said, &8220;With this team being our youngest, I think they will be the most excited and have a great experience.&8221;

The 14 and under Pelham Racquet Club Scorchers went 5-0 defeating Decatur, Gardendale, Inverness, James Lewis-Ensley and Trussville to advance to Mobile for the Southern Sectionals.

And to complete the sweep, the 18 and under Pelham Racquet Club Topspin Tornadoes won for the third straight year. They defeated Gardendale, JSU and Trussville twice each in a double round robin. &8220;With the experience this team has had at sectionals the last couple of years, they have high hopes of doing very well in Mobile,&8221; Wilkes said.

Wilkes began taking teams to the state competition in 2003. Over the past three years his Pelham Racquet Club juniors have won four state titles and had three runners-up finishes.

Wilkes began his junior program in Pelham in 2001. In the summer of 2002 he started his first-year of summer camps and began forming teams for

USTA Junior Team Tennis.

By 2003 his camps were ranked third in the United States out of 1,200 locations.

Wilkes believes in more than winning tennis, however. He said he promotes good sportsmanship, a positive attitude on the court and 100 percent effort. He said, &8220;If the players do those things, I&8217;m completely content with the results. I don&8217;t care if they are first or last as long as they give their best.&8221;

He said his juniors have learned to set goals, work hard in practice, be positive and to give all they have.

&8220;As a coach, I don&8217;t try to be any player&8217;s parent. I simply make an effort to reinforce good values that will help these kids grow to be mature adults.&8221;

Wilkes said of the Pelham Racquet Club, &8220;I am truly blessed to work at this great facility in Pelham and be able to make a positive difference every day in the lives of these wonderful children.&8221;

The 12 and under champs include Paul Lichlyter, Balark Chethan, captain Ganesh Venkateshan, Taylor Honeycutt, Alex Gamble, Mary Lichlyter, Laura Harwell, Mackenze Newton and Erin Hunter.

The 14 and under champs include Adam Lee, Jim Scott, Andy Bridgewater, Peyton Davis, captains Tim and Lee Scott, Lauren Davis, Callen Young, Sidney Garner, and Samantha Travis.

The 18 and under champs include captain Clay Parrish,

Abhi Haritha, Mandy Liu, Isaac Lichlyter, Kaci Wright, Jeremy Parrish, Caitie Owsley, Edward

Baldwin, Emily Gerding and John Ciza