LINKS
2013-09-11 / Sports

Aces run wild The pipeline

ACAC’s young tennis stars head to nationals
By Fred Jeter
CONTRIBUTING WRITER


The Kickin’ Aces include, from left to right: Erin Farleigh, Rebecca Kim, Britney Watkins, Jason Kinder (coach), Drew Hoefer, Jared Abrams and Kael Rison. 
James Haskins/Chesterfield Observer The Kickin’ Aces include, from left to right: Erin Farleigh, Rebecca Kim, Britney Watkins, Jason Kinder (coach), Drew Hoefer, Jared Abrams and Kael Rison. James Haskins/Chesterfield Observer With a name like the Kickin’ Aces, a team had better be good.

Luckily, in the case of the U-14 tennis team based out of the ACAC Fitness and Wellness Center in Midlothian, that’s not really a problem.

After taking care of business locally, the Kickin’ Aces are headed to the U.S. Tennis Association Junior Team Nationals Oct. 17- 20, in Cayce, S.C.

“This is what we’ve been playing for … this is the end of the road,” said Aces’ coach Jason Kinder, who is also director of tennis for the health club.

A western suburb of state capital Columbia, Cayce will become a mecca for some of America’s elite up-and-comers.

In qualifying, the Aces were an undefeated buzz saw in notching championships on the local, district (in Charlottesville) and sectional (Baltimore) levels.

Kinder’s squad is made up of four boys and four girls from the Midlothian area:

• Jared Abrams (freshman, James River High)

• Merrick Elim (freshman James River)

• Erin Farleigh (freshman, James River)

• Drew Hoefer (freshman, James River)

• Sadie Kee (eighth grade, Robious Middle)

• Rebecca Kim (freshman, James River)

• Kael Rison (freshman, Midlothian High)

• Britney Watkins (eighth grade, Trinity)

Junior team competition includes boys and girls singles, boys and girls doubles, and mixed doubles.

Team mother/captain Denise Weisberg (mother of Farleigh) admits to coining the catchy team name a couple of years back. Weisberg explained:

“It’s kind of a play on words, actually stemming from kick serve,” she said. “No one has been offended … that I know of.”

The Aces are no overnight sensation.

A nucleus of the same young athletes won on the local and state levels as 12- and 13-year-olds, before being eliminated at sectionals (confluence of Virginia, Maryland, Washington).

This go-round, they’re swinging for the highest honors available.

“My daughter [Farleigh] has had this on her mind for a few years now,” said Weisberg. “If they are ever to contend for a national title, this is the year.

“Next year they move to U-18,” she said, “so it will be years … before they’d have another chance.”

Weisberg and Carol Hoefer (mother of Drew) have coordinated much of the off-court activity for several seasons.

Kinder, a former Dominion District champion from Monacan High and college player at UNC-Greensboro, fine tunes the on-court product.

“These are special kids,” Kinder said. “They understand what a team is all about … while at the same time knowing what it takes to keep improving individually.”

James River High, especially, would seem to be the beneficiary of an influx of top-drawer talent.

“Absolutely, they have the ability to represent their high schools … even go beyond that,” Kinder said.

The nearly 400-mile trip into South Carolina marks more of a beginning than an end.

There is a deep well of talent in the ACAC junior program. The U-12 Intermediate squad also posted local, district and sectional titles this past spring and summer. There is no national tournament for the U-12 division.

The group includes:

Boys: Josh Abrams, Adam Vossenberg, Ben McCormick, Ben Harrison, Curtis Buzzeo

Girls: Narmeen Rashid, Julia Deaver, Katy Werwath, Holly Urbanic, Julia Monroe

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