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USTA Regional competitor continues family tradition

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When Aubrey Smith enters Columbus North High School in a month, she will already be one of the most experienced players on the girls tennis team.

Smith has been playing since the age of 6 and has grown up going to the tennis matches of her brother and sister, both of whom starred at North and now play in college. Austin will be a senior at Ball State, and Allie will be a sophomore at University of Indianapolis.

“We’re looking forward to having her come on board next year,” North coach Kendal Hammel said. “She comes from a line of a lot of good tennis players from that family. She’s grown up playing tennis for years.”

The younger Smith will be one of three local players in the USTA Regional July Segment Girls 14 and 12 tournament, which begins Saturday at North, Donner Park and Lincoln Park. Championship matches will be Monday morning.

If you go

The schedule for this weekend’s USTA Regional July Segment Girls 14 and 12 tournament:

Saturday: Play begins at 8:30 a.m. at Columbus North High School, Donner Park and Lincoln Park and will include two rounds in the main singles draw, one round in the backdraw and one round of doubles.

Sunday: Play begins at 8:30 a.m. at North and Donner and will include all quarterfinal and semifinal and consolation singles and doubles matches. Doubles finals could be Sunday evening or Monday morning.

Monday: Play begins at 8:30 a.m. at North and will include all singles finals and possibly doubles finals.

“I feel pretty good, but all the girls are good because it’s kind of a national tournament,” Smith said. “Everyone that’s in it is going to be good. Every match will be good. There aren’t going to be any easy matches because everyone in it is good.”

Aubrey Smith said parts of her game come from both Austin and Allie.

“I’ve gained a lot of experience by watching my brother and sister play,” Aubrey Smith said. “From my sister, I’ve definitely learned patience because I’m more of a hard hitter, and my sister is more consistent. My brother is both. He can hit hard and consistent.”

“They seem to play real consistent,” said their mother, Terralin. “Austin may be a little aggressive. She probably makes more errors, but she hits more winners. Allie is really patient and has a great mental game for tennis. She’s willing to stay out there for hours. She definitely plays more aggressively, so she’s a little more like her brother.”

Aubrey’s game has grown to the point where she can practice with Allie, who was a two-time Great Lakes Valley Conference Player of the Week this spring.

“We are good competition for each other,” Aubrey said. “We practice a lot together. We can rally and stuff.”

Last month, Aubrey, 14, played up an age division in the Columbus Junior Open and won the Girls 16U bracket. She also qualified for the Midwest Closed Tournament.

“She’s very competitive, just like the other two,” Hammel said. “She has a different style, a little different type of hitter. She hits two hands on both sides. She hits a much harder ball than Allie did at that age.”

“I usually hit hard,” Aubrey said. “When I can hit winners, that’s good; but usually I try to wait until the other person makes a mistake so I can win points off of that.”

Like her siblings, Aubrey has grown up playing other sports, as well. She has been playing with the Columbus Express soccer club and in junior golf tournaments. She plans to play either golf or soccer at North this fall.

“They all played just about every sport you can think of,” their mother said. “They all played soccer. They’ve done everything. Tennis seemed to be the one that they liked the best. She gained plenty of experience from watching them.”

Like her older siblings, Aubrey would like to play tennis in college.

“Right now, I’m hoping to do well in high school and hopefully make it to state,” she said.

Two other Columbus girls are entered in this weekend’s tournament. Madelyn Sanders will play in the 14U division, and Brianna Crowley will be in the 12U division. Sanders won the 14U division in the Columbus Junior Open.

There are 32 singles players and 16 doubles teams in both divisions. The Midwest Section of the USTA includes Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin.

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