Kinder ‘quietly’ leads junior team to national title

by John Packett, RTA Contributing Writer

Kinder ‘quietly’ leads junior team to national title

RICHMOND– Jason Kinder found himself working with some of the best juniors in the country when the United States Tennis Association hired him to be a coach for the USTA National Spring Team Championships in Mobile, Ala.

The director of tennis at acac Fitness and Wellness-Richmond, Kinder was placed in charge of the Titans, a talented bunch who went undefeated at 4-0.

The Titans took the gold medal with a 6-1 victory over the Eagles in the title match on March 7.

This was Kinder’s first time guiding a national team but he struck the right chord with his group.

Kinder said he told his team they were the future of American tennis.

“We need to make sure that, first and foremost, we’re great sportsmen,” Kinder said. “Top college coaches not only want great players, they want great people.”

The tournament used Division I college format. The Titans conceded just five points in four wins.

Each team consisted of two 14-year-olds, two 16-year-olds and two 18-year-olds. With the exception of 16-year-old Andrew Dale (Leesburg), the rest of the squad was from various cities around the country.  

Dale is ranked No. 3 in the nation in the 16s.

Dale said he recognized from the beginning that Kinder helped form a cohesive unit.

“The first practice [by the Titans] was great and we kind of clicked immediately,” Dale said in an interview on zootennis.com. “I knew, whatever happened in the tournament, that we’d be a close team and always be at each other’s side.”

While this was Kinder’s first time coaching in this event, he has directed Mid-Atlantic teams in national competition in the past.

Kinder said he tried to stay focused on coaching in an interview with zootennis.com

“[I just tried to] not get too wrapped up in the potential results and trying to predetermine the outcome,” Kinder said. “Sometimes, you just pat them on the back and walk away.”

Kinder said he was impressed with the talent at the tournament. 

“My guys just happened to be better in the right situations to pull out some wins,” Kinder said.

Kinder said he will apply this coaching experience to his work in Richmond.

“It was a great experience for me to be a part of a national-caliber event and bring back those experiences locally,” Kinder said.

Kinder said most of these players will go on to play for the top college programs in the country. Some of them may also consider turning pro. 

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Meanwhile, acac-Richmond will play host to a pair of prestigious tournaments in April.

The first one is the Mid-Atlantic sectional men’s and women’s open indoor championships April 13-15. Entries close April 9.

That’s followed by the Mercedes-Benz Greater Richmond Mixed Doubles championships April 19-20. Entries close April 15. There will be divisions for 7.0, 8.0 and 9.0 (combined ratings between the two players). Kinder is hoping for 100 entries this year.

To enter online, click on the adult tennis tab.

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