South Charlotte

Local tennis team nets U.S. title

Weddington Swim and Racquet Club can say something very few clubs in the entire country can.

Nine players from the youth tennis program recently were crowned national champions in team tennis, a sport gaining popularity nationwide.

The core group has been together for four years and comes to tennis from different backgrounds but found a sport that brought them together.

"We went into the national championships with no expectations," said Sahil Vasa, a 14-year-old freshman at Weddington High School. "We really didn't know what to expect. There were some really good players and good teams there."

The best team turned out to be the Weddington Racquets, who defeated the Florida Aces 60-29 in the national finals.

"We have played the past four years here and have come up through the system together," said Cameron Hobson, a 14-year-old freshman at Providence High School. "We came into the tournament knowing that we had to play well because this was our last chance as a team. Next year we move up in age groups, so this was our chance to be on top of our division."

Tennis by nature is a one-on-one sport, but team tennis combines that individualism into a team sport. Each match consists of boys' and girls' singles and doubles matches and a mixed-doubles match. The scores are determined by the total games won in each of the five matches.

"Team tennis creates a closer group of people, and you get really close and are able to bond together," said Nate Bryson, a 14-year-old freshman at Charlotte Christian.

"Tennis builds up your self confidence. In life there isn't always someone there to boost you up, and it's the same with tennis. We have gotten good at picking each other up as a team and have a really good bond."

Sahil, Nate and Cameron have come up through the Weddington Swim and Racquet Club together and were the foundation of the national championship team.

Nate came to tennis after first trying soccer. Sahil played baseball but injured his arm, and Cameron started with rally ball, a slow-pitch-type tennis for beginners.

"This is equivalent to winning the Little League World Series," said Paresh Vera, Sahil's father and an assistant coach for the team. "There were 50 states and the Caribbean Islands that had their best team representing them. To win amongst the best of best is what this team had strived for all year."

The Racquets have been to the regional tournament the last few years and finished fourth last year.

The Racquets defeated a team from Athens, Ga., 34-27 in the regional tournament to qualify for the national tournament.

"I think going in we were just happy to be there," Hobson said. "We started gaining confidence with each win and we have always been really encouraging of each other and do a great job of picking each other up."

Nate, Sahil and Cameron agreed this was their best tennis accomplishment. Each plays for their respective high schools but will always carry the bond they have created.

"When we were all helping to hold up the trophy that we won, that was a very special moment and I will always remember that," Nate said. "We are all very proud of what we were able to do as a team."