Surprise journey ahead as Landfall Ace advances to nationals

by Marimar McNaughton
Thursday, October 7, 2010

Supplied photo courtesy of Jon Ingham

Members of the Country Club of Landfall Ace will compete in the USTA Jr. Team Tennis National Championships in Surprise, Ariz., Oct. 28-31.

Jon Ingham’s Landfall Ace tennis team, the upper crust of 15- to 18-year-old advanced players, will represent their club, the state of North Carolina and the USTA (U.S. Tennis Association) Southern section in the USTA Jr. Team Tennis National Championships in Surprise, Ariz., Oct. 28-31.

Last year the team finished fourth at nationals but, Ingham said, hopes to bring home the championship this year.

"Our journey started locally by winning the 18-and-under advanced division in Wilmington. We went on, playing the best teams across North Carolina, and winning the state championship," Ingham said.

More than 500 players competed from across the state at the Cary Tennis Park in July.

"From there we moved on to represent North Carolina at the southern Championships. This competition ran from Friday, Aug. 20 through Sunday, Aug. 22 in Mobile, Ala., at the Copeland-Cox Tennis Center."

With nine states represented in the USTA Southern Section, the division is the country’s largest of 17 regions. Approximately 28,000 or 40 percent of all Jr. Team Tennis players in the nation play in the Southern Section; and with 60 courts, Copeland-Cox is known as the world’s largest public tennis facility.

Teams played boys singles, girls singles, boys doubles, girls doubles and mixed doubles in each match. The Ace team fought hard and went undefeated beating Kentucky, Georgia, Tennessee and Mississippi to advance to the championship match against Arkansas.

The team took all five courts with a definitive match score of
39-15. Team members include: A.J. Stilwell, Alex Gaines, Alexander Gianoplus, Ashleigh Antal, Danielle McGee, Mckayla Zupan, Miller Hales, Smith Hinton and William Kent.

The youngest members of the team, Gianoplus and Hinton, are only 15.

"We have three kids who are on the team that are, next year, going to go on and play college tennis," Ingham said. "Two of them have already committed verbally to play for two universities."

One is Ashleigh Antal who has accepted a full tennis scholarship to Vanderbilt, Miller Hales has committed to the University of North Carolina Wilmington and Will Kent is considering one of three offers on the table.

Ingham has been building his Landfall Ace tennis program for 10 years. Most of his team members started with him at an early age. The 18-and-under girls are playing high school tennis and come out for practice on weekends or during private lessons. Most of the boys, Ingham said, he sees every day.


Want to play?

Junior tennis clinics are offered for ages 4 to 5, on Monday and Wednesday from 3:30-4 p.m.; ages 6 to 8, on Monday and Wednesday from 4-5 p.m.; and ages 9 to 13, on Tuesday and Thursday from 4-5 p.m.

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