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National Roundup
Tennis Recruiting Welcomes the Class of 2022
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As summer draws to a close, things are just beginning to get in gear at the Tennis Recruiting Network.

This week - the end of August and the first week of September - marks the beginning of the 2015-16 year. This week's rankings are the first official listings for a whole new crop of sixth graders:

This article takes a brief glance at some of the top youngsters in the Class of 2022. Two of these kids - Cori Gauff and Benjamin Kittay - were part of the 12-and-Under squads that won titles for the USA at the Coupe Le Blanc team competition in Quebec earlier this month. All of these kids have already distinguished themselves in junior tennis.

 

Cori Gauff (Atlanta, Ga.)

When our first Girls' Class Rankings List for sixth graders are released on Wednesday, watch for Cori Gauff near the very top of the list. The eleven-year-old Gauff has compiled a 46-14 record over the past year competing almost exclusively in the 14s, 16s, and 18s divisions. Her most recent outing came at the Girls 14 Nationals in Peachtree City, where she won three main-draw matches to reach the Round of 16. Every one of her 46 wins has come over kids in older classes, including 19 victories over Blue Chip or Five-Star athletes.

Top 6th-grader Cori Gauff
© Doug Wrege, TennisRecruiting.net
"She has an aggressive all-court game," said her father, Corey Gauff. "She looks to create opportunities to come forward with strong ground strokes, a big serve, and great volleys at the net."

The Gauff family is very athletic. Her father, Corey, helped lead Georgia State to its first-ever appearance in the NCAA Basketball Tournament, while her mother, Candi, was a track star at Florida State.

"We are an athletic family, and we encourage our kids to play sports and try to be the best," said the elder Gauff. "Cori has set many records and constantly sets the bar high for herself. Our job as parents is to provide her with the tools to reach her goals - and those goals involve being the greatest."

The 5'4" right-hander uses her athleticism to compete with - and often dominate - older opponents.

"She has world class athletic ability," said her father. "Her athleticism allows her to defend the court and turn defense into offense. She loves to play and win - and she always competes."

Gauff was born in Florida, and she now trains in the Delray Beach / Boca Raton area with Sly Black and Gerard Loglo at SBHPT. Jeff Drock works with her on fitness and footwork, and she also trains at Pro World Tennis Academy in Delray. When the family is in Atlanta, she works with Coach Arthur Little and Jewel Peterson. Richard Ashby of the USTA also works with Gauff.

Gauff, who won the singles title at last year's 2014 Girls 12 Clay Court Championships, spends a lot of time on the tennis court, but her family makes sure she has plenty of time for family and other activities.

"Cori has a host of cousins in Florida that are about her age," said her father. "She sings with them in the church choir and dances on the youth dance team. She celebrated her first gold ball by turning down my offer to go to Universal Studios so she could go to church and sing with the choir the next day."

Her parents are understandably proud of their daughter.

"All the kids that compete in the sport at a national level are special. It's a tough sport. Cori is so disciplined and works so hard to improve. She never complains about doing what is required to get better. Her lofty goals require focus, discipline, and prayer, and she has an abundance of all three."

 

Alexander Bernard (Naples, Fla.)

Moving down to the Sunshine State, we find a boy who has a great shot of being listed at No. 1 on the Class Rankings List for sixth graders: Alexander Bernard.

Top 6th-grader Alexander Bernard
Bernard, who turned twelve earlier this month, has posted a 69-14 record over the past year while competing in high-level 12s tournaments as well as 14s and 16s events. Bernard won a bronze ball at last month's USTA National Clay Courts. His 69-14 record includes dozens of wins in designated and national tournaments, and he has posted 21 wins over Blue Chip and 5-Star athletes in older classes.

Bernard is the son of Leslie and John Bernard. The younger Bernard was born in Roanoke, Va., where he started his love affair with tennis.

"Alex started playing red dot ball when we were in Roanoke," said his mother. "Both John and I played college tennis, and I coached at Hollins University. Alex was sitting around watching his older brother [5-Star 8th-grader JB Bernard] play one day, and he decided to give it a shot."

Bernard, who currently stands at 5'2", plays left-handed. His mother describes his game as aggressive.

"Alexander is an extreme warrior. He is a power player who will stay out on the court as long as he needs to. He will fight until the end."

The family now resides in Florida, and Bernard trains with Rene Gomez at Gomez Tennis Academy.

"Alex is working with Rene on his lefty serve and staying aggressive through the course of the match."

The Bernard family makes sure that their son maintains a good balance in his life.

"Alex works hard during the week," said his mother. "But on weekends he spends time with his friends, and he goes fishing whenever possible."

 

Katrina Scott (Woodland Hills, Calif.)

Southern California native Katrina Scott has taken advantage of the great tennis competition available in the Golden State. Her family has tailored her schedule to play national-calber competition close to home - only traveling elsewhere for a few national USTA events.

Top 6th-grader Katrina Scott
© Doug Wrege, TennisRecruiting.net
Over the past 12 months, Scott has posted a 63-19 record overall in Girls 12 and 14 tournaments - including six wins over Blue Chip and 5-Star opponents in older classes. Highlights include four tournament titles, winning the West consolation event at the USTA Winter Nationals, reaching the finals of the Southern California Junior Sectionals in June, and posting eight combined wins in the USTA Clay Court Nationals and USTA Nationals over the past two months.

Unlike many tennis prodigies, The 5'2" right-hander got a more normal start to the game.

"Katrina has always had lots of friends at the Calabasas Tennis and Swim Center," said her mother, Lena Scott. "She started playing tennis for fun with one of her friends at the tennis center, and she has just kept going."

The younger Scott continues to train at the center today.

"Katrina still trains at Calabasas Tennis and Swim Center - and she also works with the team at Tennis Mechanix in Burbank."

The talented player is working closely with her coaches on further developing her game.

"Katrina is a very strong and fast player," said her mother. "She has the ability to move forward and attack. Right now she is working with her coaches on having a more aggressive game."

Scott is the daughter of Lena and David Scott. Her parents go to lengths to ensure that Katrina has a normal life.

"She has a set routine that she follows," they said. "She goes to regular school, and we make sure she has enough time off the court that she can concentrate on school work and have a social life."

But her parents recognize their daughter's talents - and they are proud of her accomplishments.

"We love to watch Katrina play tennis," said her mother. "What distinguishes her from other tennis players is the level of maturity and sportsmanship she exhibits at her age."

 

Benjamin Kittay (Potomac, Md.)

These days, kids seem to focus in on a single sport at a young age. Not so for top rising sixth-grader Benjamin Kittay. The Mid-Atlantic youngster is a standout in baseball, golf, and tennis.

Top 6th-grader Benjamin Kittay
© Maegan Puetz, YourGameFace.com
"Benjamin is a tremendous athlete who competes at a very high level," said his father, Gary Kittay. "He plays two other sports - baseball and golf - at the same level as tennis. His travel baseball team keeps him busy, and he does very well at Mid-Atlantic junior golf tournaments as well."

Here at TennisRecruiting.net, of course, we focus on tennis. And Kittay has been nothing short of tremendous.

"Benjamin won a USTA Gold Ball at age ten when he won the doubles title at the USTA National Hard Court Championships," said his father. "He is one of the youngest kids ever to win a Gold Ball.

Over the past twelve months, Kittay has gone 53-13 - with an 8-5 record against older Blue Chip opponents and a 5-2 mark against older 5 Stars. In the last two months alone, the 5'5" right-hander won a Silver Ball in doubles and the consolation draw in singles at the USTA Clay Court Championships, and he went 11-1 at the USTA Nationals in Little Rock - earning his second Gold Ball in doubles and a Silver Ball in singles. He was also the only player not to lose even once at this month's Coupe Le Blanc - winning all twelve matches for the USA against players from Brazil, France, Spain, Canada, and Peru.

His parents are proud of his accomplishments - as well as his character.

"Benjamin is known in the junior tennis community as a great kid on the court," said his father. "He is always fair, and he has been cited for his good sportsmanship."

Kittay was born in Washington, D.C., and is the son of Brenda and Gary Kittay. All of his family - father, mother, and sister Nicole - play tennis.

Despite the prominent position of athletics in his life, Kittay remains grounded.

"Benjamin attends regular school - and he understands that academics come first. We let him participate in as many school activities as possible so he can lead as normal a life as possible, but it is not always easy."

 

Starting this week - and for the next 366 weeks - the Tennis Recruiting Network will provide rankings for the Class of 2022. Please join me in welcoming our newest players to TennisRecruiting.net!

 

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Page updated on Monday, March 11, 2019
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