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Meet Team Delaware’s Tennis Team

Head Coach
Jill Wallace (Wilmington)

Katya Bowers (Millville), Carl Williams (Newark)

Jill Wallace calls herself a “tennis enthusiast.” Among her accomplishments, Wallace is a competitive player on the USTA circuit, the head coach of the Sanford boys’ team and an assistant rackets professional at Wilmington Country Club.

“I love helping people learn the sport,” she said. “Sharing the game and helping people grow and get better.”

Katya Bowers from Millville and Carl Williams of Newark are the beneficiaries of Wallace’s passion for the sport as she is coaching them in preparation for the Special Olympics USA Games.

“The biggest challenge has been the distance,” Wallace, who has coached the local Newark Dragons tennis team for several years, explained of the 100 miles separating the teammates.

Wallace’s connections upstate have enabled her to practice with Carl at first-rate facilities including the Sanford School, Elkton Indoor Tennis, Hockessin Indoor Tennis and the Brandywine Racquet Club. Downstate it has been Sea Colony Tennis Center and the staff that provided Katya with a similar situation. Wallace said that Marie McIntosh, Katya’s Sussex Riptide coach, has also been a huge factor in her training.

“Those facilities’ generosity has been huge,” Wallace said. “It gave us court time in the bad and cold weather, and that’s hard to come by.”

Knowing Carl through the Newark Dragons enabled Wallace to focus primarily on improving his skills. Whereas with Katya, creating a coach-player relationship became the top priority early in the training process.

“I took a bunch of road trips down there to the beach area and stayed with friends so I could get to know her better,” Wallace shared. “Her mom was great and tried to match every time I went down there with bringing her up here to Elkton so she and Carl could play together.”

The pair played singles and mixed doubles a few weeks ago against Team Maryland in an exhibition match and Wallace was pleased with what she saw.

“They won all their matches, and it was a great confidence booster,” Wallace proudly said. “It was a chance to be together before we are on the big stage.”

That big stage is at the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona, Fla., on the USTA National Campus, a far cry from the comforts of the courts here at home. But Wallace is confident that her proteges are ready.

“Katya is very relaxed, calm and cool, playing her strokes on her terms,” Wallace explained. “Carl is really focused and hard working. He runs for every ball. He’s full of grit and super competitive.”

Like all members of Team Delaware, the duo hopes to return to Delaware decorated in gold. But Wallace admits that conversation hasn’t come up once.

“We have talked about the experience more than winning,” Wallace said. “We have not even mentioned the word gold or any medals for that matter. I focus on the process and that with practice comes success. This has been a bonded journey of working toward a goal. They both have great attitudes. They are so coachable, and I expect them to shine because of that.

“This experience has been by far the greatest tennis success I’ll ever achieve.”

For more information about Team Delaware, click here.     

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