“Awesome” is the word Jackson City Manager Mike Daly used when reciting the travel log of the his family's journey to the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs during the weekend of August 10-13, 2006. The reason for their trip was 9-year-old daughter Sarah's successful climb to national competition in the first annual Junior Olympic Skills Rapid Rally Tennis competition sponsored by the US Tennis Association and Kellogg's Frosted Flakes.
The adventure began for the Daly family with the Amador Tennis Club's organization of a local venue for the USTA's
Rapid Rally Tennis competition.
The Club hosted two free clinics to introduce children to basic tennis skills and to the
Rapid Rally format – serving a low compression ball against a backboard, then continuing to rally for 30 seconds to
achieve a maximum number of hits above the net line. The local competition, held in May at Detert Park in Jackson,
was one of dozens across the country involving some 1.5 million 8-13 year olds in four different sports.
The local competition was a family affair as the following sibling champions were crowned: Giovanni Casillas
(Boys 8-9), Steven Casillas (Boys 10-11), Sarah Daly (Girls 8-9), and Meghan Daly (Girls 10-11). These budding tennis
stars then advanced to a regional competition in Sacramento.
After diligently practicing, the Amador group represented themselves well, with all 4 winning their age groups and returning with gold medals.
However, the excitement didn't stop there for Jackson fourth-grader Sarah Daly. Shortly after the
regional competition in Sacramento, she received a phone call telling her that her score was the highest in her age group west of the Mississippi! She had earned an all-expenses paid trip to the US Olympic Training Center in Colorado, where she would vie for the national Rapid Rally title.
At the National event, Sarah competed against other girls from the eastern and central regions of the United States in the 8-9 year-old age group. Sarah's performance earned her the silver medal. The national event included 72 finalists, and was truly the experience of a lifetime for the youngsters. Hosted regally with all of the pomp and circumstance of a genuine Olympic event, competitors received gifts of Junior Olympics' backpacks, T-shirts, shorts, athletic equipment, and more. Participants and families enjoyed the Olympic Training Center and were treated to sightseeing in the surrounding area. One outing took them on the tram to the summit of 14,600 ft. Pikes Peak. “We all did pretty well with the altitude,” said Mike, showing a family picture with four smiling faces.
Amador Tennis Club's Benita Asher, who organized the local competition, said she “never dreamed that a beginning
tennis player from our little rural community would make it all the way to nationals. Actually, I did entertain the
thought early on. I thought that would be so cool. And it ended up happening! Now Sarah will inspire many more
children to get involved and compete in next year's Rapid Rally competition. What a wonderful success story!”
The 2008 Rapid Rally competition will take place on May 31st. Click here for more details on the
FREE clinics and competition.