Tennis is known for its on court rivalries. Graf vs. Seles. Lendl vs. McEnroe. Venus vs. Serena. Bucks County Tennis Association vs. Princeton Tennis Program?
The last rivalry may not sound too familiar to fans, but it is a growing USTA Jr. Team Tennis (JTT) program bringing young athletes from different states to compete against other teams and have a good time.
The Delaware River Rivalry Jr. Team Tennis League was developed by Bucks County Tennis Association (BCTA), and consisted of four teams in its inaugural debut – two from BCTA and two from Mercer County’s Princeton Tennis Program (PTP).
All it took was a short drive across the Delaware River to have players competing in two co-ed age divisions, 18 & Under and 14 & Under.
“It’s not a rivalry in its true sense, but with the rich history of the area, Delaware River Rivalry League had a nice ring to it,” laughed Laura Canfield, the Executive Director of BCTA.
Canfield came up with the idea after thinking about how many people cross over the Delaware to play tennis. Langhorne, Pa., where BCTA is based, is only about 30 minutes from the Princeton Tennis Program in Mercer County, N.J.
“People live in New Jersey and play in Pennsylvania, and vice versa,” Canfield said. “I thought, wouldn’t it be fun to do a cross-river rivalry for a Jr. Team Tennis league? It would give the kids in both programs a little something extra to strive for and represent their state and county.”
Canfield, who is also on the board of directors at PTP, reached out to Gwen Guidice, PTP’s Executive Director about the idea, and the new JTT league was born. The four teams played every other weekend on Sunday afternoons from September through October this past fall. Each player was guaranteed three matches, and singles matches were double headers.
“Playing against kids from another state was an interesting twist, but they enjoyed it,” said Canfield. “Grandparents would even travel to come watch.”
In the 18 & Under division, Bucks County edged out a victory to claim the league championship, but in the 14 & Under division, Mercer County (PTP) took home the crown. Both teams advanced to JTT District Championships to fight for a spot at the Middle States Section Championships.
Canfield says BCTA and PTP plan to sponsor the league again this fall and add more teams.
“I didn’t come up with the idea until late July of last year, so the league was small,” she said. “We had to be creative with the matches. But this time we want to add more teams and get more kids playing. Our plan is to definitely do it again.”
Fore more information on USTA Jr. Team Tennis in Middle States, visit the website.