The treasure on our doorstep

Jay Clayton Wilson

On a crisp, sunny afternoon in late December SaddleBrooke residents were treated to an unexpected treasure in the very center of our community. To participate in this unique treasure, we did nothing more than open our eyes at our community’s most popular venue.

The SaddleBrooke Tennis Club hosted the United States Tennis Association Winter Nationals Championship tournament. The top players from the entire nation in the 12 and 14 year bracket for boys and girls were here to compete for the national championship title. What a treat!

Marc Avalos, the tournament director for the SaddleBrooke site, told a fascinating story about the 500 young, championship quality tennis players who come to Tucson for this annual competition. Our community was chosen as one of 13 venues in Tucson to host the event which occurs only four times per year across the nation. Only nationally ranked players from the USTA’s 17 districts compete for the title of national champion. A treasure trove of young athletes played here on our courts between December 26 and January 2.

Mr. Avalos, who also serves as the head teaching professional at the Reffkin Tennis Center, is currently the number one men’s singles player for the Pima College tennis team. He has unbounded enthusiasm for all that the game has to offer to youngsters in their formative years. Not only do they mature physically by participating in this popular sport, their competitive spirit yields rewards in terms of scholarships at the finest colleges and universities all over the world.

Julie Stelse, the mother of two players in this year’s tournament, gave a first-hand testimony to support Mr. Avalos. She has witnessed her son, 14-year-old Cole and her 12-year-old daughter Hailey, as they learned disciplined self-control in a challenging environment. They are absorbing the lesson that life skill is developed through fighting hard to achieve specific goals in the face of adversity, glory and often defeat. Her children, and the thousands of young tennis players like them, are learning to identify the problems they face and solve them, one by one.

It is noteworthy that the 2015-2016 STC President TJ Duffy, an active resident in the SaddleBrooke community, was present during the entire tournament to greet players and parents, coordinate with USTA staff, and personally insure that our courts were in top condition. Numerous STC players joined TJ to welcome this large group who hail from around the nation. The result was evidenced by the constant stream of compliments that applauded SaddleBrooke friendliness and the high quality of our tennis facilities. Everyone loved SaddleBrooke.

Clearly, STC is dedicated to the health and enjoyment of our residents and STC actively supports the development of our nation’s youth. SaddleBrooke benefits in so many ways as STC actively brings University of Arizona players and young players from across the nation to enjoy our magnificent facilities.