JTCC’s quartet of Ayana Akli, Muhammad Dossani, Trinity Grear and Robin Montgomery secured the International Club (IC) Junior Challenge Worldwide Finals title for Team USA in Estolle, Japan on Friday.
JTCC was selected by the USTA to represent the United States in the North American regional finals that were held in Mexico City during November 2017. Akil and Grear were part of that squad who along with Lea Ma and Hayden Postin overcame teams from Mexico, Bahamas and Canada to secure the US’s spot in Japan.
The worldwide finals serves as the unofficial junior club world championships and saw the JTCC team travel to Asia with coach Taka Bertrand to take on other regional champions. In the course of five days the squad played against Japan, India, Italy, South Africa and Uruguay with each encounter comprising of two boys’ singles, two girls’ singles, a boys’ doubles and a girls’ doubles.
Akli and Montgomery led the way throughout the week as they both went 5-0 in singles play. Montgomery was also the youngest player on any of the rosters. This helped the team preserve an unbeaten record although not without some tight contests. The Japanese tie went down to the wire with Dossani and Grear claiming the boys’ doubles 11-9 in a deciding match tiebreak to secure a 4-2 overall victory for Team USA.
The Italian team was favored at the start of the event with all four of their players inside the top 200 in the ITF world junior rankings. However, Grear was again pivotal as he recovered from a set down to win his singles match and help the US once again come out victorious 4-2.
The event also provided a series of outstanding cultural experiences for the group including meeting her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado at the welcome dinner. They also fully engaged with their hosts by dressing in traditional kimono clothing as they learned Japanese calligraphy.
The success in Japan comes on the back of JTCC being recognized as the top development program in the country by the USTA in 2017 and shows that JTCC is not only a leading facility in the United States but also globally in junior tennis.
“It was a huge honor to have our efforts validated by the USTA last year” said JTCC Senior Director of Tennis, Vesa Ponkka. “However, what is really special to see our players travel across the globe to prove that they are the best in the world and we are all so proud of Ayana, Muhammad, Trinity, Robin and coach Taka.”