Labor Day weekend is considered the unofficial end of summer. Kids and adults know that the leisure synonymous with the season will soon be over.
But for young athletes, they tend to find ways to combine that fun while remaining competitive in their chosen sports, mostly in tournaments against elite talent.
Marblehead sports fans this summer had the opportunity to cheer on their 14U Softball Little League all-stars to the state championship, followed by the program’s first regional win in Orange, Connecticut, where they also made history by securing the first perfect game in this round.
They also kept track of their young teenage tennis star Georgia Kulevich, who dazzled the competition in four summer tournaments to remain in the Top 30 nationally among U-16 junior players. She is ranked second in New England, and trains under the direction of the MAC (Manchester Athletic Club) Tennis Academy pros, out of Manchester, Massachusetts.
“I played in four nationals this summer, and ended up winning a Silver Ball as a doubles player at the Clay Court Nationals in Plantation, Florida, in July, which was a great experience,” Kulevich said.
Kulevich teamed up with Zosia Henryson-Gibbs to win that Silver Ball in doubles against their 14-year-old counterparts.
“I was also on Team New England in the battle of the sections (match) in California, and that was really fun to be a part of a team in a sport that is mostly considered one for individuals,” added the Marblehead native. “I also participated in the U-16 Hard Courts in San Diego (where she went 4-2), and that was a really good event as well. It was an amazing experience to be able to travel across the country and see things I would have never been able to see.”
There was also the New England Juniors in late June, which she won for the second straight year.
“Moving up to the U-16s this summer, the competition was much more challenging (in the sections tournament),” explained Kulevich. “The final was a really hard-fought match, and I was able to pull through for the win in the third set. It also helped having my family and friends there to support me. I want to give a shout-out to my brother Jake and his friend Tim for not leaving my match to go play golf, when I went down 1-5 in that third set.”
Kulevich defeated Alexandra Orlins, Gabriella Mazzeo, Kaya Moe and Athena Li, before facing last year’s U-12 sectional champion Nancy Lee in the final.
The players split their first two sets, and in that critical third set Kulevich found herself down 1-5. She was staring at two match points. But she kept her composure and battled back to win the game, before going on to win five of the next six games to force a tiebreaker, which she ended up winning rather easily, 7-3.
Georgia is now getting ready for school, and she won’t have to go far to begin her freshman year.
“Right now, I’m currently home schooled in the Laurel Springs online program. It’s very challenging, but my older sister Carly has been through online schooling before, and she has been a great mentor to me,” she said.
Kulevich wants that challenge in the classroom, which sets the tone for her to be the best on the tennis courts.
“I want to play at the highest level possible in tennis, while continuing to improve and play among the best in my age group each year,” she said.