Diversity & Inclusion News

NorCal Travel Team Shines at the 2008 ATA Championships in Miami

September 2, 2008 11:44 AM

by Bob Manalo, Team Coach

On July 29, 2008 USTA Northern California sent ten junior tennis players to Key Biscayne, Florida to compete in the 2008 American Tennis Association (ATA) National Championships.  Four boys and six girls participated. They would try to match the strong results posted by the 2007 team that competed in New York City.  Led by coaches Barbara Lewis and Bob Manalo the team met the challenge and posted successful results in several categories.  The event was held at Crandon Park Tennis Center, the site of the Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Florida. 

In the Boys’ 12 and under, Garrick Drozan of Fremont won the singles and with partner Laurence Atkins Jr. of Oakland also won the doubles title.  Garrick was clearly the best of the 12s as he dominated play in all of his matches. Laurence and Garrick combined to be an awesome doubles team as they went through the field without dropping a set.  The future looks bright for these two budding tennis stars.  Be on the lookout for their names as they age up in junior competitive play.

Another player to watch is 16-year-old Issiah Cantrell of Oakland.  The junior to be from College Prepatory School in Oakland is well on the road to the upper levels of play in the Boys 18s.  After a ragged start in his opening match, Isaiah put together a string of matches against some of the top players in the country. He ended the event placing fourth.  He lost out on a chance at third place in a match with Jonathan Sessom of Missouri City, Texas, 6-3, 6-4. This close match could have easily gone Isaiah’s way.  Sessom will be entering his freshman year at Norfolk State on tennis scholarship.  Several college coaches were impressed by the play of the younger Cantrell.  They could only envision the huge upside in his game. They all commented on his need to gain more experience and confidence. And with dedication and hard but efficient work, he will be a force to reckon with on the national scene in the near future. Along with his stellar play Isaiah was recognized with an Outstanding Sportsmanship award.

Our girls enjoyed equally significant success.  Led by 12-year-old Myeishia Simmons and 14-year-old Diana Camacho, titles were garnered in singles and doubles. The powerful and athletic Myeishia Simmons placed second in the Girls’ 14s singles division and teamed with Camacho to win Girls’ 14 doubles crown.  The fluid and powerful strokes of young Simmons is just waiting to be honed into a thoughtful imaginative tennis player.  All she needs is to gain more playing experience and evolve into a more sophisticated and complete tennis player. When this happens, watch out

The team of Simmons and Camacho proved to be an excellent combination of raw power and consistent play.  Their victory in the final over the Samantha Martinez and Hozana Medina of Texas was a thrilling nail-bitter epic battle, 6-3, 6-7 (5) 1-0 (11-9 in the deciding match tiebreak). All the players endured the hot humid southern Florida weather. Acclimation was important for our players as they are not use to such playing conditions. The extra day for practice and acclimation proved to be worthwhile; the results speak for themselves.

They all enjoyed the time spent in Miami.  The days were filled with tennis play, waiting for matches to be called and making new friends.  The camaraderie with other junior players from the country was a welcome site.  A typical day was on the courts by 7:30 am and back to the hotel around 6 or 7 p.m. The long days were cushioned by evening sojourns to South Beach, Lincoln Street and several times at Bay Side Promenade.

Overall USTA Northern California should be proud of the performance by this junior travel team. They all asked me to thank USTA Northern California Diversity Committee and Board members for giving them this opportunity. And the experience gained by all was priceless.


The USTA Northern California Traveling Team tries to stay Cool at the 2008 ATA National Championships in Miami, Florida. Check out DeDe's blog below.

Take the E-Trip to the ATA Championships: Check out our NorCal Travel Team Member’s Blog

by Marc Friedland

Meet Diana Camacho, an up-and-coming USTA Northern California Travel Team member who will be competing in and blogging from the 2008 American Tennis Association (ATA) National Championships in Miami between July 31 and August 4.

Throughout the NorCal Travel Team’s trip and the tournament, Diana, 14, will file a daily report on some of our team members’ matches, as well as the team’s fun-and-sun extracurricular activities in Florida. You can visit this site to stay up-to-date on our 12 through 17-year-old players’ matches, and to get an insider’s view of the fun and realities of national team travel.

In addition to great tennis, the ATA tournament showcases a shared, chief value and objective of the USTA and ATA: to increase multicultural participation in tennis. 

2008 ATA National Championships
Founded in 1916 by a group of African American businessmen, college professors and physicians, the ATA’s mission today is to promote the sport of tennis among men and women of all races through sportsmanship, unity and goodwill. The USTA Northern California, through the extensive work of its Diversity Committee since 1990, has also been successfully promoting and developing interest and participation in tennis across multiple ethnicities and cultures. The Travel Team is one example of that work. Diana is one of the Travel Team’s 10 members being sponsored by the USTA Diversity Committee.

Diana, who goes by the nickname of DeDe, is a Napa, California ninth grader who loves writing, engaging with a variety of people, and, of course, tennis—all of which makes her a perfect choice for this blog. A native of Colombia who moved to the United States at the age of nine (which you would never guess from her perfect English), Diana started hitting tennis balls with her #1 club-ranked father at the age of three. She joined the USTA in 2003, and has quickly risen in the ranks and gained the attention of coaches within and outside the USTA. She was ranked #63 in the Northern California age 12 division, won an age 14 tournament earlier this spring, and was awarded with a USTA scholarship.

Diana is currently coached by J. Dixon, a leading coach in the Napa area. She  will also play for Napa High School’s varsity team this fall, under a coach who has been anxiously waiting for Diana since she’s been in the 6th grade.

This is Diana’s first year with the USTA Northern California Travel Team. Created by the USTA Northern California Diversity Committee and now in its third year, the Travel Team program selects and sponsors players based on a variety of factors. In addition to tennis skills and talent, the Committee also considers academic commitment, leadership abilities and more.

Diana attributes her tennis success to hard work—she hits the gym most mornings and puts in 10 to 15 hours of practice per week—and to her Christianity and “church family” at First Baptist Church in Napa. But, with aspirations to go pro, she really credits the USTA’s support. 

“I really want to go somewhere with tennis, and now I have a chance as an ATA Travel Team member,” she says. “Being on the team, I feel like people are looking over me and supporting me. The USTA has been awesome. If not for them, I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in now.”

We’re sure the USTA Northern California is equally appreciative to have Diana on the Travel Team, and to have her representing the team’s efforts via her blog. Be sure to log in.

DeDe's Blog

Sunday, August 3: Our last day of competition

Today was a nice hot day. We were pretty tired. We woke up around 6 something and we saw that it was raining outside so we got to go back to sleep for like one hour. Then we went to play tennis. The matches were all delayed two hours. I played and I lost my singles match. So far I have won three and lost two. This was all very exciting.

Today the ATA hosted a picnic at the beach which is walking distance from where we play. So after you were done playing you would be able to go to the beach and eat. It was a nice way of mixing things once in a while. So everyone got lunch and then came the doubles matches. Minnie and Reyshawn lost their match but they tried really hard and played very well.

After playing we came to the hotel. We went to eat at Bayside at a restaurant named Mambo. We came back and went to bed. We leave tomorrow. We are all actually sad to leave. Some people can’t wait to see their parents. I think we have all learned something here. We have a long ride tomorrow and will keep you guys updated. Bye!

Saturday, August 2: A mellower day

Today was a mellower day. People didn’t have as many matches as the day before. Two boys on our team got a default from their opponents. I played first, before than anyone else. I am very happy to say that I WON. I lost yesterday but today I won in the consolation. The score was 3-6, 6-1, 6-4. I still have a match tomorrow morning at 8 a.m., bright and early. After playing today everyone stayed for a pizza party. It was nice. They had music and were giving out awards. We left after a bit because most of us were tired and wanted to go swimming at the hotel.

We went to lunch with my uncle (Javier) and my aunt (Laura). On the behalf of the United States Tennis Association we’d like to thank them for being such nice people and paying for our lunch today.

We had a long day. Some people went to beach and had dinner. Others stayed at the hotel because they didn’t want to eat. Everyone is ready to go to bed and get ready for tomorrow. We’ve started playing doubles. Well the girls have at least. I play tomorrow with Myesha. See ya all soon!

Friday, August 1: Busy day of competition

During the days I have learned that no matter what, you always have to work as a team. We have been like really busy. We play tennis every morning at 8 a.m. That means we have to wake up at around 6. Yes, 6 a.m.!

We have been doing very well. Not everyone is winning but you know we have had our wins and losses. There is a time for everything, especially to play tennis. Our usual schedule is that we wake up, get a bite to eat, hop in the car, get to the tennis courts, and warm up those who are playing the earliest.

After we come back to the hotel around like 5 or 6 p.m., we usually get in the pool and then we make plans for dinner. We did South Beach that night. It was pretty fun to see a different life style. I mean you see stores at the beach and great places to eat. It’s a really fun area. We usually get to the hotel around 10 p.m. at the latest. We all had good matches and can’t wait for the day to come.

Thursday, July 31: We win some, we lose some.

Minnie wakes me up. I cannot believe how tired I am right now. It’s crazy.

I got up, looked for my uniform and then our team went off to the COOL courts on the island. We got there and I warmed up with Issiah because he had to play first. The weather was nice until the sun was up all the way.

Issaih started playing and lost the first set but came back in the the second and then kicked butt in the third, winning 1-6, 6-4, 6-2. Mariah won her first match, doing very well by winning 7-5, 6-1. Other people played but I was also playing at the same time. I won. I played a girl that seemed like a beginner. The score was 6-0, 6-0.

Some people didn’t do as well as they wanted to. Some people lost but they were good sports about it. Even though they lost today, they’ll pull through and be ready for tomorrow.

Doubles starts tomorrow and we also have a dance for all the teens in the tournament. Everyone’s very excited.

Right now Minnie is playing. I hope she wins. Til next time!

Oh I do have to end that the teamwork and love between everyone is awesome. We have all been cheering each other. We feel like a family.

Wednesday, July 30: Our first practice

We went to practice for the first time and let me tell you it was HOT! We practiced for two straight hot hours. It was so hot we pretty much took our shirts off, well half-way, that is. Afterwards we went to Subway to eat. It was yummy.

We went back to the hotel and we all went swimming, except Nick and Garrick who decided to take a nap. My aunt and my cousin came to swim with us. It was fun.

Then everyone got ready and we went to South Beach which was an awesome experience. We went to eat at this pizza place where there are things that back home you don’t usually put on a pizza. We went shopping after eating. There were really cute clothes there.

Since we had to get up in the morning we had to go to bed early. When we got back to the hotel we found out at what time we would be playing. We were running up and down the elevator. Everyone had a long day so everyone finally listened to our coach, Bob and went to bed. Let’s see how the matches go tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 29: Arriving in Miami - It's so HOT!

When we got off the long flight we thought we were going straight to the hotel but we were wrong. We drove on a bus to the place where you rent a car. We were all supposed to be wearing our USTA NorCal sweaters but it was so hot; we were all sweaty. The good thing about all this is that most stores have air conditioning. It’s like you’re in hot Miami one second, and the next second you were like in the snow cold which felt so good.

So we FINALLY get the cars and use the GPS but it takes us in the wrong direction. We finally get to the hotel which is one of the most beautiful hotels I have ever seen. We were in this HUGE lobby talking about the rest of our day. We were all hungry so we went to go get something to eat. We split up.

We met back at the hotel at 4 p.m. When we came back to the hotel we decided to jump in the pool. Nick and Mariah had a bet that either one of them was going to get in first. Nick won the bet. I didn’t go in the pool and neither did Garrick or Issiah. I had the awesome time with my aunt Laura and my cousins, Sophia and Isabella.

After everyone was done and getting ready, we went out to eat at Bubba Gumps. We thank the USTA for paying for the food that we had tonight. We came back to the hotel and we just talked in each other’s rooms, playing cards and other games. Finally people started getting tired. I’m still awake and not that tired but I have to go to bed. We will be registering tomorrow at the place where we are playing the tennis matches. We are all so very excited. Can’t wait to tell you all more about this wonderful experience.

Diana Camacho, a member of the USTA Northern California Traveling Team, Writes a Daily Blog from the ATA National Championships in Miami, Floria.

Monday, July 28, 2008: Flying to Florida

I’m driving in the car and I’m like freaking out because my beautiful mother took two wrong turns. I was in the back of the car giving the directions and shaking because I didn’t know if I was going to make it in time.

We finally got to the airport and I see everyone with their blue USTA Northern California sweaters that we were told to wear. Some people are excited; some people are just sitting. Not everyone was there yet though. We were all talking about the hotel and who we were going to sit with on the plane. Everyone’s ready for this awesome experience.

I have to be honest I had a breakdown right before they took the picture of the team. My grandma and grandpa are leaving and I won’t be able to see them for a long time; they mean a lot to me and I was pretty upset. I was crying, but I pulled through and got in the picture with my eyes red and teary.

We walked towards where you have to take pretty much everything off to pass through security. We weren’t too happy about that. Finally, we get to the boarding area and we all just sit and wait. But since we are teenagers we walk around instead. When we came back some of our team were playing cards. (Thanks to Issiah for bringing them.) And some people just sat, talked and listened to their iPods.

It actually took longer than I thought to get on the plane. I was sitting next to Garrick and Issiah. They have been so nice. Issiah wasn’t too happy about the take off but Garrick was OK. He didn’t want to put on his seat belt. After we took off I looked around and most everyone was like dead asleep.

Before I end this blog I want to let my parents know I’m going to be fine. All kids on our NorCal travel team send their love to their homes. We will miss you all.

Can’t wait to write the next blog. It will be all about the hotel and how we got there. Keep yourself updated on how our team is doing!

Saturday, July 26: This Team Rocks

Let me tell you we are a great team. We have great coaches. We are just awesome.

I am really excited to tell you that today we had our last practice and potluck. I think that this practice really brought that other nice, funny side of us, the side I had been waiting to see from everyone. To tell you the truth I was really nervous about writing the blogs at first but this is going to be a pretty easy team to write about. They are all pretty cool and they are all really excited about going to Florida and playing tennis. I met a lot of really exciting people. I really bonded with Mariah; I'm not sure if that's how you spell her name but she is really cool and I hope she is one of my roommates.

We all got our uniforms and they are so very cute. We were all so exited and asking questions. We’ll be staying at the Hotel Intercontinental in Miami.

It was hot at today’s practice. But we were told that it is going to be way hotter in Florida. We all are ready for anything that comes.

We are going to do our best. We may not win -- we may lose but what matters the most is that we are going to learn something. We will work together as a team and show everyone who we really are as a tennis team representing USTA Northern California.

July 20, 2008: Screaming When I Got Selected

Before I start writing this blog I would like to thank you all for this awesome opportunity.
Wow I can’t believe we are here starting to get ready to go to Florida. This has been such an awesome experience. To be honest I never thought I would be the one writing this blog. I feel special to be able to do this.

You are probably wondering how I acted when I found out I got accepted to be on the team. I was at the time in the car with my mom. She was picking me up from school. She handed me this paper and I started to read it. I looked at the names of the other teammates that were going to be with me. Then I saw my name. I screamed my head off. I was extremely excited. I called my coach and my relatives to tell them the news. Now did you see how exited I reacted just because I got into the team? Well imagine how I reacted when I found out my picture was going to be taken to put on a website and I was going to write blogs about my experience throughout this trip? I was screaming and jumping everywhere in my house.
I have been given the gift of writing which goes along with talking a lot. When Mark Friedland told me about this I was thrilled for people to see who I am and what is going to be happening while our awesome team is in Florida playing with the best. I will be very excited to give you all the news about who wins, who lost but tried their best, what we do, who we meet, and what an awesome group of people I am with.
Going to Florida is going to be one of those experiences I will never forget. I’ll be telling my grandchildren. I really think that going to Florida is going to help me become more independent in my tennis life. At the same time it will show me how a team acts and shows the best of each other. I am really use to being just me when I play tennis. I’m not used to looking at someone else and how they did  and how that will affect the whole team. I think that this will give me more obedience. To tell you the truth I had been very lazy during the winter, not wanting to play tennis as much as I had the year before. I guess you could say I was giving up on tennis. But when I got the paper that told me that I was on a team and I was going to be representing USTA Northern California I suddenly got a jolt of electricity telling me to get out there again. After I got the news, I went out and played six hours or more of tennis. I am very confident in myself which has made me come this far. I am very proud of what I have accomplished and I’m very thankful for everyone’s help.. Without you I would have never made it here.

At our team practices people were quiet and kind of shy at the beginning. But then people became very friendly. I think the whole team is going to get along fine. When I went to the second practice Bob Manalo -- our team coach along with Barbara Lewis ¬-- was there and we stretched and had just a good time. We also played a really fun game; we would have to make all 10 serves or we had to do as many “suicides” as we had missed. We learned a lot of team work and skills. I had a lot of fun and can’t wait till the pot luck next weekend.

2008 ATA National Championships



Print Article Email Article Newsletter Signup Share
Newsletter Signup