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Forest Hills junior team wins championship

The Junior Tennis Team from the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills won the 2010 National Championship on October 31.
The team competed in Surprise, Arizona in the three-day USTA Junior Team Tennis Advanced National Championship, an annual outing held for the top members of the organization.
In their march to victory in the 15 team tournament, the Forest Hills team, which represents the USTA Eastern Section, took down opponents from all over the country. The group defeated the San Diego Super Chargers, 33-29, in the semifinals before beating the ATA Dream Team from Austin, Texas in the finals, 33-24. The Eastern Section finished first in the regional tournament in Syracuse last winter to qualify for the championships.
The Forest Hills team brought five returning players to the championship this year after taking 5th place in the 2009 tournament in Mobile, Alabama. This year’s roster, led by Coach Gus Alcayaga, includes six teenagers – Ariana Rodriguez, Olivia Boccardi, Richard Del Nunzio, Stefan Ilic, Vihar Shah, and Gabrielle Sullivan.
Because the USTA tournament is structured and scored differently than most, with the winner being decided by the number of games won rather than matches, each player’s participation and dedication was crucial to the team’s success.
“Tennis is a unique sport where most of the accomplishments are individual,” said assistant instructor Thomas Gilliland. “Being able to play together as part of a team and represent each other really created a different atmosphere.”
In addition to winning the title, Boccardi and Shah also took home Sportsmanship Awards, an honor that Gilliland said represents one of the West Side Tennis Club’s most fundamental principles.
“We always try to make sure that their conduct is valuable and that they’re playing the game the right way,” he said, “and it really showed through when we got there.” Sullivan was a recipient of the Sportsmanship award at the regional tournament.
Gilliland said that the team is in good position to return to the USTA National Championship again next year and is hopeful of earning a repeat title. They have a number of returning players along with significant talent waiting in the wings. But for now, the team can sit back and soak up their victory.
“The team spirit was great,” said Gilliland. “It was a good ride home.”

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