In the zone: Local athletes enjoy success in USTA tournaments

By Tommy Keeler Jr.

WINCHESTER – Nick Mueller and Hayden Postin had the chance to do something special recently.

The two youngsters competed for the Mid-Atlantic section in the United States Tennis Association Southeast Zonal team competition in early July.

Mueller, of Winchester, played in the 14s in Cary, North Carolina. Postin, of Purcellville, played in the 12s in Sumter, South Carolina. Both players train at Winchester Country Club, but they weren’t the only locals that were in the competition.

Sherando graduate and current assistant Shenandoah University men’s and women’s tennis coach Trevor Scott coached the winning 12-year old team. Postin’s team finished second and was coached by Handley graduate Matt Stillwagon, who is currently a club pro in Ashburn. The Mid-Atlantic Section had two teams in each event, and both Mid-Atlantic teams made both finals.

“I felt like I did pretty well for my first year at zonals, because I was facing all the other kids from different regions,” Postin said. “I trained hard for this tournament, and my training finally paid off.”

The USTA is divided into 16 sections. The Mid-Atlantic section is made up of Maryland, D.C., West Virginia and Virginia. The Mid-Atlantic section endorsed players for the team and both Mueller and Postin were selected to represent the section in the zonal competition. There are four zonals in the U.S. and the Southeastern zonal includes Florida, which is usually known as one of the top states for tennis in the country.

Jim Scott, head pro at the Winchester Country Club, has coached zonal teams before, but couldn’t this year because of other plans and encouraged Trevor to apply for a coaching spot.

“I put in my application never really thinking I would be chosen,” Trevor Scott said. “They called back a few weeks later. It was crazy. It was a whirlwind.”

Trevor Scott said the team arrived in Sumter on Wednesday, July 2 and had one practice before having to play the next day. The teams are made up of six boys and six girls.

“These are all national players, so you don’t really have to do any teaching, it’s more of just keeping them settled,” Trevor Scott said.

In the final, Trevor Scott’s team beat Postin’s team, 11-7.

Postin said it was very different playing in a team event at such a high level.

“I was pretty nervous because one match could actually let the team down,” Postin said. “I’m like thinking, ‘I got to win for the team, I got to win for the team.’ I was so nervous inside.”

Postin, 12, and Mueller, 13, each went undefeated in singles in their tournaments.

Mueller’s team won the zonal competition in the 14s. They won their matches by a combined score of 45-9 before the finals, and then beat the other Mid-Atlantic squad 10-8 in the final. It was Mueller’s third time participating in the zonal competition.

“It was good because most people won,” Mueller said of the competition. “Most everyone won, but it was tight because we played the other Mid-Atlantic team and we barely won.”

The experience should help both players out as they continue to improve their young games. Mueller will be in eighth grade this fall, and is just outside of the top 100 in the USTA 14’s national rankings.

Postin will be in seventh grade this fall and is already firmly inside the top 100 in the country in the USTA 12s national rankings.

“They’re having great careers, it’s just a matter of working more efficient at that level, It’s really exciting for us here to see that level,” Jim Scott said.

Trevor Scott said it was the first time the Mid-Atlantic had won the 12s in the zonals in a number of years and he was very proud of the way his team performed.

“They were a great group of kids,” Trevor Scott said. “They really pulled through to get the win. …It’s a pretty huge accomplishment.”

Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd