Greenwich High coach Jones guides national team

Rare is the occasion when Connie Jones isn't coaching tennis.

Besides serving as the Greenwich High School boys tennis coach, Jones is a tennis professional at Sound Shore Indoor Tennis Center in Port Chester, N.Y., and a National coach for the United States Tennis Association's Eastern section.

Recently named National High School Boys Tennis Coach of the Year by the National High School Coaches Association, Jones coached the USTA Eastern Aces at the 14th annual World Team Tennis Junior Nationals in San Diego.

The prestigious co-ed competition, which was open to players ages 15-18, featured 16 teams representing USTA sections and local community tennis organizations.

Tennis legend Billie Jean King, who co-founded World Team Tennis in 1974, hosted the junior tournament, which included seminars on leadership and college.

"She (King) was there the entire tournament and was totally into it," said Jones, who has guided the GHS boys tennis team to seven consecutive FCIAC titles and five straight Class LL championships. "She went around the courts taking pictures with the kids and was encouraging the players."

King was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, by President Obama on Aug. 12 at a ceremony at The White House.

Jones' Eastern Aces squad went 3-3 in the tournament (which took place Aug. 5-8) and finished 11th overall out of 16 teams in the ultra competitive tournament.

"It was an improvement for the team from last year when I think they finished second to last," said Jones, who was also named Outstanding Coach of the Year by the Connecticut High School Coaches Association in the spring.

Held at George E. Barnes Family Junior Tennis Center, the WTT Junior Nationals consisted of eight events with two sets each of boys and girls singles, one set of boys and girls doubles and two sets of mixed doubles.

Members of the USTA Eastern Aces team included: Devlin-Ann Armendoln from Massapequa, N.Y., Alexander Tsai of Binghamton, N.Y., Michael Puntillo from Sands Point, N.Y., Madison Gordon of Manhattan, Minami Okajima of Montville, N.J., and Jeramy Solema of Briarwood, N.Y.

"They were all very much team players and really got into a team format," Jones said. "All of them embraced the team aspect of the event."

The Youth Tennis San Diego Whalers recorded a 41-37 victory over the Westview Attackers to capture the WTT Junior Nationals championship. Jones said competing in the tournament is good preparation for playing at the next level.

"It's a great event that gets them ready for college tennis," said Jones, who coached the Eastern team at the Nike Junior Tournament at Stanford University last summer. "It helps them tremendously with their game."

As always, Jones was happy to lend a helping hand to USTA tennis and coach the team.

"For me, it is a way to keep in touch with the coaching element of the sport and a way to give back to the sport," she said.