In its sixth year, the prestigious Pacific Cup Exchange brings together the top ranked players in the 12's, 14's, 16's and 18's from the four western USTA sections; Pacific Northwest, Intermountain, Northern California and Southern California. Only the top ranked boy and girl in each age group is selected to play in the Pacific Cup. This year’s event took place from December 2-4 in Beaverton, Oregon.
Hosted by the Pacific Northwest Section, the competition utilized a round-robin format in which each team played a total of three rounds, each featuring a new opponent. A complete round included boys’ and girls’ singles, as well as boys doubles, girls doubles, as well as mixed doubles. Each match consisted of a pro set for singles and a regular set for doubles.
The 2011 team representing Northern California included:
Coach: Amy Jensen Team Manager: Tommy Tu
Brandon Sutter (B18s) Logan Staggs (B16s Sean Ko (B14s) Austen Huang (B12s)
Kassidy Jump (G18s) Emma Critser (G16s) Emily Zheng (G14s) Sara Choy (G12s)
Once in Beaverton, the kids were given housing to stay with local tennis families. The players quickly became a strong unit and had fun competing together on the courts, and connecting off the courts. Each and every NorCal match was fiercely contested and thoroughly supported. All of our players represented this section at the highest possible level.
"This was my first Pacific Cup event and I was totally inspired by the way our players competed," says coach Jensen. "The formats are great, there is a strong emphasis on doubles play, and the competition is intense. Being chosen to represent NorCal in this event is a real honor, and it's a great reward for the players hard work throughout the year. The mixing of genders and age groups makes Pacific Cup really memorable for all."
Tommy Tu, NorCal's Junior Competition Coordinator, has this to say:
"The Pacific Cup is always a great opportunity for our best kids in each age group from 12’s to 18’s to compete with other sections’ best players; it’s also an event where they all learn how to play as a team. All of our NorCal players were looking forward to this tournament for weeks because they’ve heard from past participants that it was so much fun." He went on to say, "Everyone was shy and quiet at the beginning of the trip, but then they just wouldn’t stop talking at the end of the trip; we all became a true family in those three days. They all fought and cheered harder than they normally would and cared for each match. It’s completely a different atmosphere and the energy that you get from your teammates is incredible!"
Austen Huang, Boys 12’s has lots to say about the trip:
"Pacific cup has been one of the most exciting trips of my life. I was first very hesitant about going, because I would have to take care of my stuff and stay organized in my host family. I was not prepared for any of this, so I doubted I actually wanted to go. But I knew that this was going to be good experience for me if I travel alone by myself anywhere else. When I arrived in the airport, I didn’t know anybody. I felt alone and scared. I was too shy to talk to anyone or meet anyone new. But everyone was very accepting of someone new. On the trip, everyone had a great time and became really close friends. We always kept ourselves pumped and excited. When a teammate hits a bad shot, our team would try to cheer that player up and make him or her fight harder. It was my first time staying with a host family. They were very nice and treated us just as if we were their own children. Even their son played on a different team and had to play us. He was still very kind and nice to us. He cleaned our table and bathroom when we were away. They wanted for us to feel like we were home. Amy was just an absolute amazing coach. She is always there for the team and supported us. She told us helpful and useful tips. She pumped me up just enough to make me win two comeback matches. I did not know that I would win those matches. Tommy gave the best encouragement and always cheered for us when we were down or up. Without his encouragement, I would never have been able to win so many matches. I definitely feel I made the right choice to go. I made more friends, improved my doubles and singles game, learned new strategies, and overall, I had a great time doing it. This is so far the best experience in my tennis career. I cannot stress it enough. It was just absolutely amazing. I hope to come back to Beaverton, Oregon soon. I was so sad when I was leaving. I really wanted to stay. But all I can do know is work hard and hope to come back next year. We will get 1st place. I know. GO NORCAL WOOT!!!!!"
Sara Choy, girls 12's says:
"My time at the Pacific Cup couldn’t be any better than it was this past weekend. My team bonded real easily. It was as if we were meant to be one. At first, I was crazy scared. I was afraid that my team wouldn’t talk to me or support me. But when I arrived at the airport and met Tommy, Coach Amy, Sean, Logan, and Emily, I knew right away that this was going to be a blast. Later, I met Cassidy, Emma, Brandon, and Austen. It’s just so different to play with a team supporting you after every point, no matter if you win or lose the point, especially with Amy on the court giving us useful tips and Tommy cheering us on. Not to mention him taking his random pictures. But not only was it amazing on the court, but also off the court. My hospitality was super amiable. The family provided us with everything that we needed and they also let us get a little crazy. And that is why this was an experience that I will never forget in my entire life. I would love to be back next year. NORCAL! HERE WE GO!!"
Emily Zheng, Girls 14's recalls:
"This is an experience that I will definitely remember for the rest of my life. Before the trip, I wasn’t that excited because I had only a vague idea of what Pacific Cup was. But as the time grew near, I did my research and I got really pumped.
The plane ride was a bit bumpy but I had fun listening to my emo rock music while talking with my teammates. The tournament itself was awesome, too. There was a clean site, a constant supply of granola bars, fantastic housing arrangements, and worthy opponents. There’s just something about walking onto the court and hearing your teammates cheer your name from the sidelines that drowns the anxiety. Something about hearing the clapping after a good shot, the encouragement after a bad shot, there’s something to Pacific Cup that’s just so indescribable and beautiful. Ultimately, this was an experience of a lifetime, (of course, unless you are chosen to go again next year…) and Pacific Cup definitely supplied everything that a tennis player could ever need. GO NORCAL! WHOO!!!"
Kassidy Jump, our Girls 18's representative says:
I was looking forward to Pacific Cup for Weeks, because the last time I went to this event was when I played in the 12’s. I always had great memories from Pacific Cup. I love the team environment and you are only with your coaches and your team. I love cheering everyone on and being a team player! This isn’t the first time I’ve gone to a team event without parents. It’s always a little nerve racking, but Tommy and Amy made this experience… Well one of a kind. I have had an opportunity to work with Amy Jenson before and she is very fun and easy to work with. She always knows what’s best for me during play. We all try hard and do our best whether we win or lose. It is such an inspiration to be cheered on by your teammates.
I would like to give a special thanks to Tommy, because he was a great team manager. He was great with the camera by taking all his sneaking photos haha. He always pumps us up, and you never have to be worried about no one cheering for you, especially when Tommy is around.
This trip was amazing, it was a very memorable experience, and I will remember it forever. We became such good friends over those three days; we went from not really knowing each other to having our own inside jokes. I would have to say the best was the "Logan Face". We would just start busting up when he made the face. I loved our new cheer we all made up. and I know Tommy did too, 1.2.3 TOMMY!!! That is and will always be an amazing and memorable cheer.
I like the "tennis homework" Amy gave us and even though it was something we had to do, we did it together which made the experience great. We all worked together to write about our matches.
Our host family was extremely kind to host us. She always offered us food and really made us feel at home. It was great to hangout with everyone; they had a lot of kids so it made it feel very homey. I have to say the dinners they made were fantastic!
I hope I can come back and represent Norcal next year! This trip really made us bond, and we all made new friends by the end. We are like family now. Each player and coach helped make this a motivating and remarkable experience for me. LET'S GO NORCAL!!
P.S. A special thanks to USTA Norcal for paying for this event and making it happen. Thanks Norcal! :)
Logan Staggs, Boys 16’s, loves his experience:
"Pacific Cup was awesome, and I had so much fun being part of this team. When I went as a 12-year-old, it was a great experience, but nothing like it was this time. This time the team was like a family and we bonded right away. I feel like everyone on the team is a good friend now. The staff in Beaverton and my host family were nice. Tommy and Amy are the BEST even though Tommy takes a lot of pictures when you’re not even ready! :) Loved the Nike stuff we got. Thank you USTA NorCal for a weekend of great tennis and great friends that I will always remember. Here we go NorCal!!!"
Sean Ko, Boys 14's, shares his experience:
"The Pacific Cup was one of the best experiences I've had. Being the number ones, we had some fairly tough competition. Each match was tough and we had to bring our A-game and I think we all did. We played a game of gender doubles, mixed doubles, and singles. It was interesting playing the same guy three times. I think our team bonded well together. We cheered on our teammates and comforted them after a loss. Afterwards, we would get into our "circles" and have a good laugh, sometimes for hours. I especially liked the skills contest. That was a boat-load of fun. I made new friends and met some old ones. It was also an interesting experience living with the host families. They were all very nice. With no parents, we took care of ourselves and, I guess, one another. We were like a family. I definitely want to try and come back. I would call this awesome event time well spent."
Emma Critser, Girls 16's said:
"I had been looking forward to pacific cup even before i knew i had definitely gotten in. Even though I was so excited for the tournament I was still unbelievably nervous about how I would get along with my team mates and housing family but there were no problems at all. The NorCal team bonded quickly and it wasn't long until we started our inside jokes and were able to have a great time. Our bonding only made it that much easier to cheer on your team. Having such a positive team attitude made it even more enjoyable to play and by the end of the trip I truly felt like we had become a strong family. I, of course, can't forget the amazing coaches we had on the trip. Every time I was struggling in a match or needed a bit of reassurance Tommy and Amy were there to give me strong advice and to pull me through my situation. The only problem I had was that the trip was too short. I, and my team mates I’m sure, would only want to change the trip to make it longer. It was an experience that will certainly stand out among my junior career and I hope I can go back as many times as possible."
Brandon Sutter, Boys 18’s and Team Captain:
"The Pacific Cup was an amazing experience. The atmosphere was perfect. The feel was relaxing, yet competitive and energetic at the same time. I could not have picked a better team to go with. Everyone was an amazing competitor and an awesome person, and I was glad I had the opportunity to make these new friends. Our team seemed to bond instantly with each other, and we helped cheer each on during matches, as well as joking around and having a good time afterwards. The coaches were also amazing. Amy was a great on-court coach, and her advice during matches helped me focus strategically and changed how I talk to myself on the court, as well as motivating me during matches. And of course, Tommy was the best manager a team could have. From his random picture-taking to his encouragement to his frequent sarcasm; he made the trip so much more enjoyable. The guest families were unbelievable. They were so hospitable, and they opened their house to us with open arms. They were literally the nicest people you could think of. I had such an amazing experience, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. LET'S GO NORCAL!"
And finally, Mike Staggs, father of Logan Staggs, boys 16's, says:
"The Pacific Cup provides an outstanding team experience. Tennis can be a lonely sport, and the Pacific Cup provides the rare opportunity for our Section to come together and work as a team. In addition to an excellent tennis experience, the program promotes camaraderie and FUN! These kids work hard for their ranking, and the weekend in Oregon is a wonderful way to celebrate their achievements. A big thank you to Amy Jensen, Tommy Tu, and to the hosts in Beaverton, OR for an experience my son won't soon forget."
After two and a half days of play and many very close matches, Northern California finished third behind #1 PNW and #2 SoCal. Intermountina finished in 4th place. Team NorCal was by far the most spirited team. All of players were cheerful, energetic, supportive and proud to play for NorCal.
The final results were:
1. Pacific Northwest – 298 games
2. SoCal – 291 games
3. NorCal – 228 games
4. Intermountain – 191 games