When Columbus CORTA's 10-and-under Intermediate team went to the state tournament for Junior World Team Tennis championships, team captain Traci Courville knew that they had a good team.
"We were undefeated during the regular season and then went to Macon and did not lose a match so we felt we were in good shape for the Southern championships," said Courville of her team's efforts.
That team was down to seven players as two female members, Riley Grier and Lillian Gristina, were unable to compete as one was out of the country and the other player's family moved.
"We knew going into state and the Southern championships that we were going to have to play some of our girls twice in matches," said Courville. "And those girls really played great in both tournaments."
"We have two sisters, Sofia and Maria Eckstein, on the team. Sofia is the youngest at seven and she played great. With the Eckstein sisters and Marianna Branch playing and having some times to play twice (called doubling up in Team tennis), we still were able to win," said Courville.
The Southern championships in Auburn saw severe weather play a role as rain postponed and delayed many matches. Still Columbus captured their flight by going undefeated and then stopped North Carolina's state champions, 35-17 in the title match to win the Southern. The new 10- and-under division does not compete in national championships.
Teams play five matches, boys' and girls' singles and doubles and one mixed doubles match.
The rules allow for either one boy or one girl player to play twice but one match must be the mixed doubles match.
"It was fate I think because we needed 29 team points in the final match against the second North Carolina team in our flight and just as we got that 29th point, they stopped play due to the rain." She reported.
Besides the female players, members of the team were Jake Courville, Sackett Carr, Jonas Stenslie, and Jack Schondelmayer. Cile Branch, mother of Marianna, was the co-captain and the team coach was Columbus Country Club's Diego Moeivar, assistant pro to Jim Fitzpatrick.
"The whole team jumped on Diego when we won it as he has been our coach the whole year. All the other teams had players 10 years old and can have them as old as 11. Our team had only two 10-year-olds on the roster," Courville added.