Check out Ken Robison's story, "An Ace Up His Sleeve" that ran in the January 2, 2004 South Valley edition of the Fresno Bee.
“Ryan has a big game in a little package. He has the ability to focus, he’s in great shape, and he will wear down his opponents,” says Jack Thompson, Head Professional at Visalia Racquet Club.
Ryan’s road to a National tournament began in Visalia, May 17-18 at the Little Mo Sectional Tournament. Ryan, a local player, entered the Visalia Tournament in the 9 and under division. He played well, kept getting the ball back and went all the way to the finals!
His success wasn’t a total surprise because he comes from a tennis family: mom Karole went to the USTA NorCal League Sectionals in 2003, his uncle, Dave coached with the Visalia Community Tennis Association, and his grandfather was George Rummelhart, a well known veteran player in many CCTA tournaments. George also played in USTA Senior Tournaments and Karole described his most memorable moment was having his picture taken with The Pancho Gonzalez after a USTA senior match.
Dan Fox, Visalia City Tennis Director describes Ryan, “He’s just a little taller than the net and is usually playing much bigger opponents. His racquet looks as big as he is tall. Ryan is a “ball machine”, he is very patient, he hits with lots of top spin, and always gets the ball back and in play, -----much to the chagrin of his opponents!”
Ryan’s appearance in the finals of the Visalia Sectionals Little Mo Boys 9’s, qualified him and the top 4 players in each age division to play in the Western Regional Championships being held in the Barnes Tennis Center in San Diego, Sept. 19-21, 2003.
There are 4 regions in the United States North, South, East and West. The West Regional consists of Southwest States, Pacific Northwest States, Northern Cal, Southern Cal, and the Pacific. The semifinalists (4) from each age division from each Regional will go to the Nationals.
The "Little Mo" Nationals is the only event in the country which offers the opportunity for a youngster to become a National Champion in Boys & Girls 8, 9, 10, 11 & under.
Ryan again made it to the finals. His tremendous effort meant qualification for the Nationals; this prestigious tournaments features the top 16 girls and boys from all over the United States go to Nationals in Austin, Texas. That’s quite a road trip for our Little Mo player from Visalia.
The popular "Little Mo" tournament, in its 27th year in Texas, is named in memory of its tennis champion namesake, Maureen Connolly, who was known as "Little Mo". In 1953, she was the first woman to capture the elusive Grand Slam by winning the Australian Championships, French Championships, Wimbledon, and U.S. Championships in the same calendar year. She was only eighteen years old when she accomplished that magnificent feat. From that time on, Maureen was known as the incomparable "Little Mo". This year, we are honoring Maureen for her 50th anniversary of her Grand Slam win (1953-2003). In July 1954, "Little Mo" injured her leg in a horseback riding accident that ended her tennis career.
Ryan brought his skills with him to Austin Texas, because on a warm October day, Ryan beat Josh Goodman, Weston Florida, 6-1, 6-3 first round; Thomas Pura the #1 seed from Bedford Hills, New York 6-1, 6-3 quarterfinals; Alex Scheinman, Los Angles 6-2, 6-3 in the Semis; and lost to Mitchell Polnet Churchville, PA in a very close match 6-6, 6-3 in the finals.
But, his road trip isn’t over! Ryan’s talent has enabled him to be invited to the 9th Annual Smrikva Bowl/Little Mo in Europe, in Croatia. The tournament boasts the top ten and under players in Europe, will also host the 3rd Annual “Little Mo”/ Smrikva Bowl. This event combines the top players in this younger group from the United States and Europe playing against each other. You can find out more on: www.smrikve.com. Two boys and girls from each age group: 8,9,10,11 are invited, and Ryan is one of 4 Americans. Even better the Bowl is played on the 4th of July!
Carol Weyman is the MCB Executive Vice President and Little Mo Tournament Chairman and has written about the history and schedules of this popular format for junior players, search Little Mo on the web to find out more. You can contact Carol at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or call: (214) 352-7978.
The "Little Mo" is a program of the Maureen Connolly Brinker Tennis Foundation that furthers junior tennis development for boys and girls 8, 9, 10, 11 & under. The "Little Mo" began in 1976 for Dallas players and then expanded to include all players from Texas. In 1998, the "Little Mo" expanded to a national level and the "Road to the Little Mo Nationals" was created. The "Little Mo" is a nationwide, year-long circuit of fun, competitive tournaments culminating in a national champion being crowned in each age division. The "Little Mo" tournaments offer an opportunity for the younger player to compete against others who are the same age at the sectional, regional and national level.