Jack Kramer, the tennis legend who left a substantial mark on the game locally, strongly believed that having good competition made players better. Under Jim Hillman’s leadership as Southern California Tennis Association’s Director of Junior Tennis, the conviction became a junior tennis principle. He had an uncanny ability to come up with a vision of what could be, that allowed him in time, to make the K-Swiss Grand Prix Masters Championships (as the Solinco Grand Prix Masters Championships was called initially) a reality.
Thirty-six summers ago Hillman thought – Why not launch a circuit for juniors, who were not yet skilled enough to play national championships, and let them develop their games competing in sectional tournaments on a weekly basis throughout the summer?
Martha Katsufrakis has been the program leader, organizer, basically its heart and soul from the beginning. This year, between June 1st and August 31st, 44 events were played. “There were over 12,000 participants, many from the section, and others from Arizona, Nevada and New York to name just a few of the states that had players involved in the tournament series,” Katsufrakis said. “The competition to become one of the top eight point earners in the 18s-10s age groups who receive invitations to the Masters Championships was very close. The battle for points was furious.”
Earning a place in one of the five draws (18s-10s) open to boys and girls is a summer-end goal. “Because the Masters Championship was a Level 3 Tournament, there were full draws, with substitutes available in all the divisions,” Katsufrakis informed. “It was nice to see that the players are becoming more aware of their point standings.”
Becoming a member of the exclusive 1000 Point Club is another Solinco Summer Grand Prix objective. “For the last two-years, no one reached that level,” Katsufrakis said. “This year, Jinta Sasamori, who played the Boys’ 14 division, earned 1,690 points, that broke the record of 1,600 points set by Daniel Ho in 2003.”
The Solinco Grand Prix Masters Championships was held at the Lakewood Tennis Center in Long Beach, October 1st and 2nd. Katsufrakis, the Tournament Director, who took the photos, noted the following results:
Boys’ 18 (Photo 1)
Adam Sraberg d. Harry Yang
Girls’ 18 (Photo 2)
Julia Lillen d. Mary Profit
6-1, 4-6, 6-3
Boys’ 16 (Photo 3)
Kyler Jiraook d. Reini Igna
Girls’ 16 (Photo 4)
Jenna Sloan d. Yuka Perera
Boys’ 14 (Photo 5)
Jinta Sasamori d. Ryan Thomas
Girls’ 14 (Photo 6)
Madison Kane d. Alexis Golin
Boys’ 12 (Photo 7)
Logan Friedman d. Alex Michelsen
Girls’ 12 (Photo 8)
Caylie Cruz d. Alyssa Bojenkova
Boys’ 10 (Photo 9)
William McCollum d. Drew Koval
Girls’ 10 (Photo 10)
Krisha Mahendran d. Daniela Borruel
The list of players, whose games’ have come of age playing the summer circuit, over the years, is stellar. A few of those in this select group include Lindsay Davenport, Jonathan Leach, Michael Joyce and Venus Williams, along with David Roditi and Debbie Graham Shaffer. Katsufrakis has a wealth of memories based on her lengthy tour of duty. “I always enjoy seeing the new participants every year,” she said. “It is always interesting which of the players have moved on to compete on the national level, or if they have returned to play the Grand Prix circuit for another year, looking to develop their games even more.”
In closing, Katsufrakis added, “The sponsorship offered by Solinco and Wilson is really appreciated. As always, we are really grateful to all the tournament directors (and facilities) who hosted the events and who always provide such wonderful opportunities for juniors to compete.
“I can’t believe the program has existed for 36 years and that those who played years ago now come with their children and reminisce…”
For Solinco Grand Prix information, contact Martha Katsufrakis by calling (310) 209-5912 or by e-mail at email@example.com
I can’t believe it has been 36 years and those who played now come with their children and reminisce.