It was an exciting Junior Team Tennis season in Oklahoma City. With all of the news and shut-downs related to Covid19, there seemed to be no chance that JTT would even happen. When the opportunity came, all of our kids and coaches were so grateful!
The competition was tough, there were so many great teams, but when the final games were tallied the BCC Tennis Academy 12U Barracudas and the 14U Bobcats were crowned “City Champs!” Even though city-wide competition was allowed, the possibility of having a State Championship tournament seemed off the table. We got word just a couple of weeks ago that The Case Tennis Center at LaFortune Park will be hosting the Junior Team Tennis State Championship on Sunday, August 16, at 1 pm. Our kids are super excited to have the opportunity to compete against the best JTT teams in the state. Go Barracudas! Come on Bobcats!
Following a 10-week break during the coronavirus outbreak that hit the United States in March, the BCC Tennis Academy returned to the courts May 25th with an all-time high 28 participants active in its weekly programming offerings.
BCCTA students ranging from 6-to-16 years old are on the courts an average of 3.5 days a week this summer and will be courtside for a cumulative 400 individual training sessions during the month of June – with sessions ranging from intermediate and tournament prep to high performance drills and private and semi-private instruction. Starting in late June, BCCTA will field three teams in Oklahoma City’s USTA Junior Team Tennis Summer Season, including a first-ever 18-and-under squad to go along with the academy’s 12’s and 14-and-under teams. Nine BCCTA students have participated in USTA Oklahoma tournaments during the first three weeks of the circuit’s June re- opening.
Founded in 2011 as an after-church activity, BCCTA added an annual summer camp to its portfolio shortly thereafter and by 2014 blossomed into a year-round academy. The faith-based Oklahoma City program is fully funded via private donations and takes great pride in its diverse roster of students and strong retention rate BCCTA has enjoyed since incorporating year-round programming six years ago:
- 54% of students who train on a weekly basis throughout the calendar year are minorities.
- 59% are on “Free and/or Reduced Meal Programs” at their respective schools.
- The average tenure of a BCCTA student is 3.1 years with an overall retention rate of 85%.
BCCTA opened three outdoor hard courts on the Britton Christian Church campus this past fall and also trains indoors in the church’s gymnasium, which has been transformed into a USTA sanctioned 60-foot court. More than 90 percent of the academy’s annual budget is spent directly on its student-athletes, with less than 10 percent earmarked for administrative costs.
While the BCCTA Barracudas were in Tulsa claiming the crown as the 2019 Missouri Valley JTT Champs, Tokara Henderson was preparing for her debut on the Missouri Valley Zonal All-Star team competing against top players from around the nation.
Tournament play began Thursday, July 25 in Omaha, Nebraska, and will continue through Sunday to determine the 2019 Zone Team Champion. The five-state Missouri Valley Zonal all-stars faced a tough Texas team today and beat down the Longhorn squad 14-4.
Tomorrow, Tokara and her teammates will take on an all-star team from the Intermountain section of the USTA. The Intermountain team is made up of players from Utah, Montana, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, and Wyoming.
Before the tournament is over the Missouri Valley squad will take on another Texas team as well as all-stars from the USTA Northern section which includes players from Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and the Northwestern part of Wisconsin.
To be named to the Zonal All-Star team means that Tokara is one of the top 6 girls in the Missouri Valley section which is made up of players from Oklahoma, Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa, and Kansas. The coaches and players of the Britton Christian Church Tennis Academy are so proud of Tokara. Even though she is only 11 years old, no one works harder, puts in more time on the court, and encourages our other players like Tokara. Go get ’em Tokara!
I wish you could have all been there. The pressure was on the Barracudas this morning as they carried a narrow two game lead into the final round of play at the 2019 Missouri Valley JTT Championship in Tulsa. Coach Brad Lund had crunched the numbers and determined the team needed to score 30 points against the tough St. Louis Sunset Slammers to win.
The two singles matches got things started. John Paul Dillon and Javier Vazquez came out and played like two Jedi knights on the court. Forehands, backhands, serves, volleys…every shot was masterful! By the time our two captains finished their matches the Barracudas had secured 16 of the 30 points we thought we needed to bring home the championship.
Next up, the doubles team of John Paul Dillon and Macy Hays took court one ready to play. And they were ready to play! Macy and John Paul made quick work of the team from St. Louis and secured eight more points for the Barracudas.
Needing what was thought to be six points, our second doubles team of Taytum Jones and Kellen Hays took court two. Taytum and Kellen opened strong, took a quick early lead, and then the tide turned, as often it does in tennis. Before they knew it the St. Louis squad had won the first set 4-2 and things were looking grim. The big question lurking in everyone’s mind was: “How will a couple of ten year old boys respond to losing the lead and then the set in the biggest match of their lives?” Most young doubles teams would fold up like a cheap suit, but Taytum and Kellen dug deep. They came out for the second set flying around the court like the Bryan Brothers. They hustled, fought for every point, encouraged each other like crazy, and rallied to win the second set 4-0! You read that right…4-0!
Because each team had won one set each they went to a 10 point Super Tiebreaker. Kellen and Taytum jumped out to a strong 7-1 lead only to see the fightin’ boys from St. Louis rally back to 7-5. Taytum and Kellen were unfazed as they closed out the match 10-7 and the crowd roared so loudly you could hear it all across the state of Oklahoma.
It was the most incredible day closing out the most incredible season in BCC Tennis Academy JTT history as the 12U Barracudas brought home our very first Missouri Valley JTT Championship. The Barracudas are incredible group of kids. John Paul Dillon, Javier Vasquez, Taytum Jones, Macy and Kellen Hays, Kadence Williams, Alma Mendoza, and Gray Dillon have now won two State Championships and our very first Missouri Valley Championship. We are so blessed to have leaders like these kids for our younger players to look up to as they set their sights on winning championships of their own.
The excitement and energy were electric as all of the teams, 12-18 yrs of age, from the five state Missouri Valley Section of the USTA gathered for the Opening Ceremonies of the 2019 Missouri Valley Junior Team Tennis Championships at The Case Tennis Center at LaFortune Park in Tulsa. The BCC Tennis Academy 12U Barracudas were stepping onto a big stage as they made their first ever appearance at the tournament.
The BCCTA Barracudas played their hearts out all day long on opening day. In the early morning first match of the day, both teams came out believing they could be the winner. Each of the four matches were so close, momentum swung back and forth throughout the morning, but when the scores were tallied the Barracudas had won 28-23.
After lunch the Barracudas took the court for their second match of the day against hometown favorite, LaFortune Tennis. The Barracudas had beaten LaFortune last week in the State Championship in Oklahoma City, but when the kids from LaFortune stepped foot on the court you could tell they were confident on their home court. Once again, the matches were close with many games going to deuce and sets being decided by tie-breakers, but when the match was over the Barracudas had won 29-20!
The Barracudas will play for the Championship tomorrow morning at 10:30 am. The St. Louis team they will face will most definitely come out swinging as they would love nothing more than upset the Barracudas. At the same time, our kids are hungry, they have worked hard to put themselves in this position, and they would like nothing more than to bring a Missouri Valley Championship back home to Britton Christian Church.
We teach our kids, “You can either focus on the heat or you can focus on your opponent.” It was so hot out on the court today, but not one of our kids even mentioned the heat. They were totally focused on the goal before them as they began the day looking to be crowned the 2019 12U JTT State Champion.
The BCCTA Barracudas played two matches on Monday taking on the top two Tulsa teams: The LaFortune Tennis Center and Indian Springs Country Club. The kids played outstanding tennis all day long putting themselves in great position going into the final day, and the final match against Oak Tree Country Club. When the numbers were tallied at the end of the match the BCCTA Barracudas had earned the title of 12U Junior Team Tennis State Champion! In addition to winning the State Championship, Taytum Jones, was named the male recipient of the “Sportsmanship Award” for the competition. Congratulations Taytum!
We are so proud of this group of kids. It was mentioned yesterday that the 10U Cheetahs have a lot of new players this year. That is because the 10U Cheetahs from last year, who won the JTT State Championship last summer in Tulsa, moved up into the 12U Division, even though four of our players could still be playing for the 10U Cheetahs. At the beginning of the season, the 2018 Cheetahs decided they wanted to stay together as a team, challenge themselves, and move up a division. They had no idea if they could compete with the other players and teams in the 12U Division, but they wanted to try it out. Their hard work and commitment have paid off! Congratulations to John Paul and Gray Dillon, Javier Vasquez, Kellen and Macy Hays, Taytum Jones, Kadence Williams, and Alma Mendoza. Congratulations once again to our amazing coaches who have inspired and challenged our kids the past two days: Jessica Reineke, Brad Lund, and Rob Braver.
The 12U Barracudas, by winning the Oklahoma State Championship, will now move on to the Missouri Valley Championship next Tuesday and Wednesday in Tulsa, at The LaFortune Park Tennis Center. The Missouri Valley Section is made of Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Heart of America (Kansas City region), and St. Louis. The BCCTA Barracudas will compete against the very best teams from each of these regions. Good luck to our kids and coaches!! Love God. Make Friends. Play Tennis!
It was a tough day at the Junior Team Tennis State Championships at the Oklahoma City Tennis Center as temps climbed above 100 degrees on the court. Three teams; LaFortune Tennis Center, out of Tulsa, Quail Creek Country Club, and the BCCTA Cheetahs played a round robin format and all had outstanding teams.
The BCCTA Cheetahs played LaFortune in the first match of the day and the Cheetahs won at #1 and #2 Singles and at #1 and #2 Doubles.
After Quail Creek and LaFortune played their match there were only two games separating Quail Creek and the BCCTA Cheetahs. The atmosphere was electric as both teams came out full of confidence that their team was going to be the 2019 10U JTT State Champion. At the end of the match the Cheetahs won on all four courts once again and claimed the title! In addition to winning the team title, Braver Reineke, was chosen out of all of the boy competitors as the recipient for the “Sportsmanship Award.” Congratulations Braver!
This is the second consecutive JTT State Championship for the BCCTA Cheetahs, but what is so impressive is that only two players, Kadence Williams and Gray Dillon, played on last years Cheetahs team. With an all new line-up our kids came out and battled all season long. With the pressure of playing in such a big tournament our kids rose to the occasion and played their best tennis today. Congratulations to Kadence Williams, Grey Dillon, Braver Reineke, Hayden Shriner, Audrey Bohnstedt, Andrea and Ivan Mendoza, and Yuri Mendoza. Congratulations also to our incredible coaches: Jessica Reineke, Brad Lund, and Rob Braver who were with both the Cheetahs and the 12U Barracudas throughout the day.
We want to thank all of the parents and friends from Britton Christian Church who came out to cheer on the kids today. Your support and encouragement mean so much to our players and coaches.
After a successful regular season, followed by both teams winning the City Championship, the BCCTA 10U Cheetahs and the BCCTA 12U Barracudas will compete for the Oklahoma Junior Team Tennis State Championship next week, July 15-16, at the Oklahoma City Tennis Center. The top two finishers from Tulsa and the top two finishers from Oklahoma City will play each other for the championship. The team with the total number of games won at the end of the competition will be crowned “Champion!”
USTA Oklahoma has just released the schedule of play. We want to make it available to all of you in hopes you will come out and cheer on our teams. All matches will be played at the Oklahoma City Tennis Center.
BCCTA Cheetahs 10U Orange Ball Schedule
Match #1 Monday, June 15 11:30 am BCCTA Cheetahs vs. LaFortune Park
Match #2 Monday, June 15 2:30 pm BCCTA Cheetahs vs. Quail Creek Country Club
BCCTA Barracudas 12U Green Ball Schedule
Match #1 Monday, June 15 9:30 am BCCTA vs. LaFortune Park
Match #2 Monday, June 15 1:30 pm BCCTA vs. Indian Springs Country Club
Match #3 Tuesday, June 16 10:45 am BCCTA vs. Oak Tree Country Club
Awards ceremony will follow the conclusion of each age group’s final match.
The winner of the 12U Green Ball Championship will advance to the Missouri Valley Junior Team Tennis Championship to be held Tuesday, July 23 and Wednesday, July 24th. You can learn more about the Junior Team Tennis Championship by visiting the website for Mo Valley JTT.
Recently the National Office of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) called to say they would like to do a story on the BCC Tennis Academy. They’ve just posted the story on their website. You can read it by following the link: Christian Church Serves Love Through Tennis Academy
We want to thank Emily Martin for taking the time to write such a wonderful story about what’s happening at the BCC Tennis Academy.
The BCCTA 10U Cheetahs and 12U Barracudas will be competing in the Junior Team Tennis State Championships on July 15-16 at the Oklahoma City Tennis Center. We would love to have you come out and support our kids.