If you’re looking for some good news, tennis is slowly reopening across the state as USTA league and tournament play resumed with more leagues and tournaments on the horizon. USTA Adult League local league play started in June, and although all state, sectional, and national championships are canceled in 2020, local play is still going on. Mixed Doubles and Tri-Level Doubles are set to start this month and September, respectively, so if you’d like to field a team or join an existing one, visit www.msleaguetennis.com for more information on how to get involved.
USTA Jr. Team Tennis is also ongoing. d Fall Leagues team registration starts at the end of August. Ready to Rally programs for 12 and Under beginners or first time players are also being offered. More information about dates, times, and locations can be found at www.mstennis.com/content/beginner-programs
On the tournament side, things are heating up as the Mississippi Junior Closed State Championship (formerly known as the Qualifier) was held in July followed by the Southern Closed Championships. News. Results from those events, which are two of the most prestigious junior tournaments on the calendar, will be listed in next month’s column.
Two Mississippians win ITA Arthur Ashe Leadership & Sportsmanship Awards
Danielle Viljoen of Jackson, and James McWilliams of Brandon have been named the women’s and men’s winners of the ITA National Arthur Ashe Leadership & Sportsmanship Awards for the Junior College Division in 2020. This prestigious award goes out to one male and female player nationwide each year who demonstrate exceptional sportsmanship, academics, leadership, and overall excellence on and off the court. Both winners this year come from Brooks Buffington’s Jones County Junior College program, and each player hails from the Tri-County area.
Viljoen led by example during her time at Jones, posting a 27-4 career record in singles and 24-4 in doubles while also serving on the Leadership Team of the Student Government Association. Viljoen was an ITA Scholar-Athlete as well as being inducted into the Jones College Hall of Fame.
McWilliams had a career record of 20-12 on the court, and was selected as the “Bobcat Award” winner during his freshman and sophomore years at Jones, which is given to the player at the school that best personifies the qualities of a model student athlete. In addition to his on court achievements, McWilliams was an ITA Scholar Athlete, a Phi Theta Kappa member, and the president of the Baptist Student Union.
Mississippi Tennis Association announces College Scholarship Award Winners
The Mississippi Tennis Association is proud to announce the recipients of the 2020 educational scholarships are Hannah Ashley of Greenville and John Martin Fox of Brandon. Now in its 20th year, the program annually awards scholarships to a deserving young man and woman based on their accomplishments in the classroom, on the tennis court, and in the community.
Hannah is a graduating senior of Washington School in Greenville. She has achieved a 4.32 GPA for her high school educational career. She has been very busy serving as a cheerleader, track team member and of course, a member of the tennis team eighth-12th grade. She served as a student council officer, Rho Kappa president her senior year, Key Club, SADD, Mu Alpha Theta, Fellowship of Christian Students and many others accomplishments. Her dream is to work with children and will pursue this in her collegiate educational career. She has served as a tutor to elementary students and considered this a great honor to be approached by the parents of children she would babysit. Hannah has approached tennis with a willingness to learn, also realizing during her career that this is a very mental game. Coming from a junior varsity start and meeting the challenges of being an athlete, it took some time to move forward through challenge matches, eventually making it to the varsity squad. Diving into some consistent practice routines, she understood what it was going to take to improve her skills. With the season being cancelled due to the pandemic, she went out with one of her hardest fought victories and one of her longest matches of her career. She plans to take the lessons from her tennis career with her as she attends Delta State University this fall.
John Martin Fox had a 4.0 GPA throughout his high school career while being a National Merit Finalist (class of 2020), Phi Theta Kappa through Hinds Community College, Gold Medal Latin Exam three times running, a three year National Junior Classical League member, Mu Eta Sigma National Math Honor Society and adding to his tennis time, a Bach Festival piano competition superior ranking from 2012-2015. He also earned his Eagle Scout award while at the same time ranked number one in the Mississippi state tennis rankings. Being introduced to tennis at an early age by his mother, he continued to take lessons and joined the team competition of high school tennis as early as 6th grade. He dove into USTA sanctioned tournaments as a teen with some strong results throughout his career. He has qualified for Southern Closed, achieving a third place finish at the Mississippi Endorsement tournament in 2019. He played USTA junior tennis for several years and held the rank of one in the Mississippi 16s division and second in the 18s division, while compiling a record of 99 match wins and 46 losses.
He credits tennis as being his favorite activity throughout his high school career, even getting involved in teaching younger kids during the summer. He has taken away the discipline, hard work, and mental toughness learned through tennis; but most important are the friendships made throughout his tennis career. He will attend Mississippi State University as a Presidential Scholar and a member of the honors college where he will major in accounting and history.