By Steve Fogleman
(August 3, 2013) Alison Riske is no longer a junior player. But she liked what she saw so much at the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Maryland, that she moved here from Hilton Head to join her coach, Yves Boulais, who had also relocated to Maryland.
It’s one of the finest tennis training facilities in America, and it’s just starting to get some real attention. As JTCC graduate Denis Kudla has moved up the rankings, so has the word on the street about the JTCC.
Riske joined Justin Boulais, her coach’s son, who also trains at the facility. The Center has one of the only red clay courts in the Mid-Atlantic, and plenty of Har-Tru and U.S. Open style hard courts.
The results of her decision to move to Maryland five months ago paid off handsomely. She hit a career high of 96 last week after bottoming out around #200 as late as March.
One of the JTCC’s feature players, Arlington, Virginia’s Denis Kudla had a very nice summer tour and reached a career-high of 90 in July.
Kudla trained at the Center since childhood. Though Kudla lost his first round match at Citi Open, he spent lots of time around the grounds, running into old friends and chatting with DC area juniors, who admire him greatly.
The involvement of JTCC alum in the tournament was extensive and the best part of the Citi Open for many Washington-area locals. In addition to Riske and Kudla in main draw singles play last week, 14-year-old Usue Arconada, a prodigy of JTCC Coach Frank Salazar, was the toast of the tournament’s opening weekend when she won her first professional match. Arconada beat the #2 Argentinian in qualifying. As you can see from the video below, she’s got natural poise on-camera as well as on-court.
It was also a huge treat to see JTCC alum Beatrice Capra, a Maryland native who now plays for Duke University. A qualifying wild card recipient, she didn’t make the main draw but still played tenaciously in front of a packed house of local supporters on Grandstand 2.
In addition to the numerous players at the Citi Open, JTCC will host the second annual International Tennis Federation (ITF) Grade 1 Junior International Hard Court Championships from August 17-24. This is the first time ever that JTCC will host a Grade 1 tournament and is one of only three ITF Grade 1 tournaments in the United States with other tournaments held in Palm Springs and Miami.
The Grade 1 tournament will feature the top ITF 64-ranked boys and girls to compete in singles and doubles, bringing some of the best young tennis talent in the world to the area, including Arconada and Francis Tiafoe.