Brianna Shvets and Robert Siniakowicz have been named to the third annual USTA Junior Leadership Team, which recognizes America’s finest junior tennis players who exhibit leadership, sportsmanship and character on and off the court.
Shvets, of Pennington, N.J., and Siniakowicz, of West Windsor, N.J., are among more than 30 players nationwide named to the USTA Junior Leadership Team. Each player was nominated by his or her USTA section for their excellence in tennis and in the community.
“These players are our future leaders, and the values they’ve shown to embody both on the court and in the community are evidence that our future will be in good hands,” said Lew Brewer, the USTA’s Director of Junior Competition. “They are the perfect role models that represent our nationwide Net Generation efforts, and they truly deserve to be recognized with the USTA Junior Leadership Team.”
Shvets, 17, has been ranked in the Top 20 of the USTA national standings in both the girls’ 18- and 16-and-under age groups and has been No. 1 in the Middle States section from the 14-and-unders on. She placed third in the USTA National Indoor Championships last fall and will be playing college tennis at Princeton University beginning in the fall. She’s a member of the National Honor Society and volunteers at Advantage Tennis in West Windsor, N.J.
Siniakowicz, 17, has been ranked in the Top 40 of the USTA Boys’ 18s national standings and No. 1 in the Middle States section. He’s won the Middle States sectional title, finished runner-up at the USTA National Indoor Championships in doubles last fall and was the New Jersey state singles champion out of West Windsor-Plainsboro South, where he was the team captain. The 2017 Trenton Times Player of the Year, he’ll begin his collegiate tennis career at Brown University in the fall.
“Tennis has taught me valuable lessons that will resonate with me throughout my life,” Siniakowicz said. “It has taught me to be a fierce competitor and to work hard for my goals. It has taught me to always seek self-improvement in every aspect of my life. The pressure I have dealt with on the tennis court helps me become a stronger person and deal with stressors adequately.
“Sportsmanship matters because in the end what happens on the court is only a game, but what you take with you off the court stays for life. Losing is never easy, but after all, as a tennis player, you can only control what is on your side of the court, and that means that you should be proud if you have given your best effort. I am the most frustrated when I feel like I have not given my best, but I try hard not to compromise my character over the result of a match.”
Each year, more than 120,000 players compete in USTA junior tournaments. Players compete in levels of competition through earned advancement in the 10s, 12s, 14s, 16s and 18s age divisions. USTA junior tournaments help kids take their game as far as they want – high school, college or pros – or just have fun competing.
In her own words:
Brianna Shvets: “I am confident when I say tennis is one of the best sports to play to learn one’s mental strength, composure, and ultimately their character. Since tennis is primarily an individual sport, I have been able to understand my strengths and weakness which has helped me mature as a person. Looking back at my career, I find it difficult to believe that a single moment defined me as leader or role model. I believe it’s the combination of all my experiences and matches that have shaped me. With that said, I believe there is one thing that is always the same when I step on court, and that is my persistence. Every time I step on court I make sure to go as hard as I can, because I know I will not be satisfied if I don’t.
Tennis is a sport that requires constant attentiveness and I feel like that is what I’ve taken from this sport. I am a very disciplined person, and my hard work has got me into my dream college, Princeton. I have devoted my life to this sport and I am so happy I did because I know I would be a completely different person if I didn’t play. I think it is amazing how I can take one step on court and learn so much. I apply my tennis skills to my everyday life and it helps me be successful. For example, I am very sharp and efficient with my school work. I enjoy challenging problems and never give up. These skills not only make me a better tennis player, but a better learner, as well.
I am able to appreciate the lessons tennis has taught me now, however my passion for the game started many years ago. Even when I was a baby I was drawn to the game. My older sister played tennis, and I would always enjoy coming along. During her practices I would watch the fuzzy yellow balls go back and forth, and I was mesmerized. When it was time for her to take a water break, I would sneak onto the court and roll around and take all the tennis balls I could. Then, my sister and her coach would come back on court and tell me that they needed the balls back. I would look them sternly in the face and say, “No, it’s my ball!” and refuse to move until I got to play with the tennis balls. I have always had a strong connection with this sport, and it has helped me in so many different ways in life.
Simply put, I love tennis and I want the tennis community to grow. Whether that’s playing with fellow USTA competitors or playing with some friends from school, I enjoy sharing my experiences through this sport!”