LTP tennis

LTP girls (left to right) Lara Schneider, Allie Gretkowski and Anna Ross celebrate winning national 18s team championship. Photo/Provided

Doubles anyone?

The Randy Pate Tennis Academy sparkles with its group of singles stars, but the doubles success coming out of LTP Tennis can't be overlooked.

The academy can even claim a Junior Grand Slam doubles title with the one Emma Navarro and Chloe Beck won at the Junior French Open. But the successful doubles list goes on and on.

And now three of the academy's brightest junior girls standouts make up almost half of a Southern Sectional team that won the USTA girls 18 national team championship because of the girls' excellence in doubles.

Allie Gretkowski, Anna Ross and Lara Schneider all went unbeaten in doubles in the recent national team competition in Claremont, Calif. Their combined individual 11-0 doubles record helped ensure that the Southern team would repeat as national champion.

"Being a part of the Southern team was such a great experience for all of us," Schneider said. "We've all known and played against each other for years and years and it was nice for once to be on the same team.

"It was really fun to have Allie and Anna by my side on the team."

Schneider is a 17-year-old who already has committed to play college tennis for Ohio State, while Ross is headed off to Vanderbilt in a few weeks. Gretkowski just turned 16 on July 31.

Gretkowski and Ross posted 4-0 records in doubles, 3-0 playing together. Their partners included Jenna Thompson of Charlotte and Brooke Killingsworth of Rogers, Ark. Schneider went 3-0 playing with Carson Tanguilig of Atlanta. The Southern team included Prosperity's Elise Mills, who put together a 4-0 singles and doubles record. Killingsworth was the team leader in wins with an 8-0 record in singles and doubles.

More local success

Gretkowski's string of success at the national level continued in the national girls 16 hard courts last week in San Diego. After going 11-1 in singles and finishing third in doubles with Ross in the girls 18 national clay courts earlier this summer and then sparkling in the girls 18 team competition, Gretkowski returned to girls 16 competition in the national hard courts and made the quarterfinals in singles and semifinals in doubles (with Tanguilig).

Emma Charney, the Pate Academy 16-year-old who played so well in the girls 18 national clay courts, also advanced to the girls 16 doubles semifinals in San Diego with partner Carrie Beckman of Louisville, Ky.

And, of course, LTP's Max Smith won the national boys 16 clay courts doubles crown with Ben Shelton of Gainesville, Fla., earlier this summer.

No one can forget Emma Navarro's amazing year in Junior Grand Slams. The daughter of LTP/Volvo Car Open owner Ben Navarro isn't going off to college at Duke until 2020 to join doubles partner Chloe Beck, so there should be plenty more junior success the rest of the year for Navarro.

Navarro and Beck had somewhat of a disappointment in doubles in the girls 18 national hard courts in San Diego with a loss in the round of 16, but they now plan to play together again at the upcoming Junior U.S. Open. The next month will be a busy time for Beck as she is scheduled to enroll at Duke in a few weeks to begin her college tennis career.

The Beck/Navarro team, indeed, has had an amazing 12 months in the last four Junior Grand Slams, going semifinal, final, champions and quarterfinals in that order in New York, Australia, Paris and London.

Net gen at The Open

Emma Navarro and Chloe Beck aren't the only ones headed for the U.S. Open festivities.

A group of 24 Net Generation kids from Charleston is scheduled to perform a demonstration in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Aug. 28 prior to the start of the U.S. Open's day session.

The Charleston kids will be part of a group of more than 1,200 from all over the country who will perform demonstrations during the first 10 days of the tournament, according to USTA publicity associate Daniel Pyser.

"The demonstrations last around 15 minutes immediately prior to the start of play and one kid from each group is selected to do the coin toss for the match," Pyser said.

April Gift, the coordinator for the Lowcountry's Junior Team Tennis program, directs the group.

"The program has around 250-270 players each season playing league play. My program was selected out of 100 applications when I was on court working the VCO (Volvo Car Open) on the Net Generation Court," Gift said.

The group of kids "about 8-14 years old" has been practicing twice a month, and will practice from 1-2:30 p.m. on Aug. 17 and 18 at LTP Daniel Island, along with dress rehearsal on Aug. 25.

"We have been practicing over at VCO stadium and courts to prepare for a larger venue, security and on court practice of handshakes, cheer and entrance," Gift said. "Not one of these 24 players has been to the U.S. Open, so to have this experience on top of going to the Open is incredible."

Reach James Beck at jamesbecktennis@gmail.com

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