We recently received a fantastic email from UTR member Sarah Borwell, founder of Tennis Smart
and former British No. 1 doubles player:
“Hope alls well with you. I was just wondering if you would like to do a story on the event we hosted at the USTA National campus. I believe it's the first of its kind with using UTR to successfully match a British high school with American high school/academy/college teams.
Without it, I would have truly been lost and thankfully because of it each of the 5 matches were incredibly competitive which allowed for a fantastic 10 day trip for Millfield school.
We all were literally saying everyday, thank god for UTR as it made the trip.”
"We all were literally saying everyday, thank god for UTR as it made the trip."
As you can imagine, we had to hear more! Sarah is a former British No.1 doubles player and played in college at University of Houston
. She founded Tennis Smart
to support student-athletes as they balance education and tennis at every stage of their careers.
Sarah often organizes events for students, and she reached out to us about a recent trip she planned for 17 student-athletes, ages 14 - 17, from Millfield School
in the UK for the students to come to the USTA National campus in Orlando, FL for 10 days to play against US-based high school players and visit college campuses.
“Initially, I thought it would be pretty easy to just contact Florida schools in the area and set up a few matches, but Millfield is one of the strongest British schools for tennis - their top player is a UTR 12 - and I wanted to find play that would be competitive for both teams,” Sarah told us.
The students from Millfield School did not have American rankings, so Sarah relied on UTR to find schools with players with comparable skill sets, particularly at the high school level. Sarah soon found Montverde Academy
in the UTR database and worked with coaches at Millfield School and Montverde Academy to exchange player UTRs to set up the college dual match.
“The first match was pretty incredible - the final score was 14-13 over a 4.5 hour period. We played a DII format with pro-set in doubles to begin followed by best of 3 sets in singles. As the trips were being used to give players a glimpse of college tennis we also made sure we did team introductions, chants before the match and large amounts of fist pumping, high fiving throughout. It was the best opening day to the trip we could have hoped for - Coach Warne-Holland said: “this day will be very hard to beat Sarah, it was perfect.”
Millfield played 3 other matches before competing again against Montverde but this time at the Montverde Academy campus.
“It was 13-13 going into the last match. Almost every match went into a third superset tiebreaker and the final result was 14-13 again!” Sarah continued.
“The players and coaches loved it - being British, we are relatively reserved and usually find the chanting, cheering a little comical but by the time this match rolled round the players were coming up with their own cheers and even rushing the court at the end to celebrate. It was awesome to see that transformation.”
"Without UTR and the help of Sarah and Paul at Spring Break Sports, finding matches at the right level would have been extremely difficult."
Dan Manlow, the head coach at Millfield School agreed. “Having traveled across the Atlantic to take on the unknown opposition in team matches, we were unsure of how the level would be… After 2 knife-edge battles with Montverde Academy that ended 14-13, we were no longer wondering! Without UTR and the help of Sarah and Paul at Spring Break Sports, finding matches at the right level would have been extremely difficult.”
“Our trip was successful thanks to UTR,” Sarah told us. “It was the most stressful thing to organize as I wanted to get every single thing right but thankfully we did. Without UTR, finding the level of high school players and organizing a competitive event for our visiting UK kids would have been impossible.”
We receive inspiring notes from players, coaches, parents and event organizers sharing how UTR has positively impacted their game. In our new series, we’ll share their stories with you and highlight the work they’re doing on and off the court. Tell us how you use UTR! You can send us a note, or share your story on @MyUTR and #GetRated.