Boy's Junior National Tennis Championship
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The Boy’s Junior National Tennis Championship takes place on the Kalamazoo College campus in Kalamazoo, Michigan. This event is now one of the most important events for 400 male 16 and 18 year olds who have come from all over the United States.
The United States Tennis Association, or the USTA, is the national governing body in the United States for the sport of tennis. The USTA was originally known as the United States National Lawn Tennis Association in 1881. Later they changed the name to U.S. Lawn Tennis Association, and then finally in 1975 they changed the name to what it is now, the United States Tennis Association.
The USTA has 17 different sections in all and they are in different parts of the country. The 17 different USTA sections include New England, Eastern, Middle States, Mid-Atlantic, Southern, Florida, Caribbean, Midwest, Northern, Missouri Valley, Texas, Southwest, Intermountain, Pacific Northwest, Northern California, Southern California, Hawaii Pacific. Each of these sections have different regulations and procedures, but they all share the same mission statement. Their mission statement reads, "The USTA is a progressive and diverse not-for-profit organization whose volunteers, professional staff, and financial resources support a single mission: to promote and develop the growth of tennis."
Each of the sections was started at a different time and they each have their interesting histories. For instance, the USTA Midwest Section or Western Lawn Tennis Association, has a great history that started in 1910. The USTA Midwest was started at the Chicago Beach Club in Chicago, Illinois. It originally controlled all of the tennis clubs west of the Alleghenies Mountains. The USTA Midwest had great influence over the whole USTA at the national meetings. When the USTA Midwest thought that it would be a good idea to have a national clay court championship in 1910, they brought it up to the whole USTA and it passed without dissent. In 1920, the USTA Midwest reconstructed its boundaries and bylaws. The new boundaries included Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin. In the 1920s tennis became very popular in America and they started to train junior players.
Nationals at the Zoo or "Nats at the Zoo"
At the first "Nationals at the Zoo", there were only ninety entries for the two age divisions, 18 and under and 16 and under. This event is now one of the most important events for 400 juniors who have come from all over the United States. The event takes place over a ten-day period from which there are winners in singles and doubles tennis. The winners from the 18 and under tournament automatically receive a bid into the main draw of U.S. Open Tournament.
During the past sixty-five years, many great names in men’s tennis have participated at "Nationals at the Zoo". Past Participants include Rod Laver, Barry MacKay, Stan Smith, Arthur Ashe, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Aaron Krickstein, Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, Pete Sampras, James Blake, Andy Roddick, Bob and Mike Bryan, Ronnie Schneider, Jackson Frons, and many more. All of these big name tennis pros played in the tournament, but only Laver (1956) and Smith (1964) won the boys 18 and under National Championships for singles. The USTA Boys Junior National Championships represents tennis at its finest, whether in the first round or the finals. Attending the tournament is a great way to view future stars.
The nationals have not always been at Kalamazoo College. Originally the tournament was held at West Side Tennis Club in Forrest Hills, New York from 1916–1920 and then again in 1927. Next it moved to Longwood Cricket Club in Boston, Massachusetts from 1921–1923. From 1924–1926 it was at South Side Tennis Club in Chicago, Illinois. Then it was at Culver Military Academy in Culver, Indiana and it was there from 1928–1942. Due to WWII, it was necessary to move the tournament from a military base. Dr. Allen Stowe influenced the USTA to relocate the tournament to Kalamazoo College. Stowe wanted to bring the tournament to Kalamazoo because of the great city and he was a coach at Kalamazoo College. Kalamazoo College is an ideal setting for holding the Nationals. On campus, there is a beautiful architecture and landscaping, as well as great facilities. Home of the National Championships since 1943, Kalamazoo's Stowe Tennis Stadium has eleven well maintained hard courts outside. If there is bad weather, Kalamazoo College has Markin Racquet Center on its campus, which has four indoor courts. Stowe Tennis Stadium has enough seating to hold more than three thousand people. Since Kalamazoo College is within close proximity to Western Michigan University, Western lets them use their 20-court Raymond Sorensen complex for the tournament.
There are many events that are similar to the Junior National Tennis Championship. Girls Championships have a similar event that takes place every year in Berkeley, California for 16- and 18-year-olds. Along with having these great events in the US, there are also events all around the world. In Europe, there are tournaments for boys and girls. These events come in different age groups such as 12, 14, 16 and 18-and-under.