NATIONAL TENNIS TEAM WANTS WICHITA'S STEVEN
The Wichita Eagle
Thursday, January 23, 1992
Julie Steven, a promising young Wichita tennis player, has been invited to join the U.S. Tennis Association's national junior team.
As one of nine girls and eight boys on the team, Steven, 15, will be groomed for international competition, including the Junior Grand Slam tour.
Steven is in Australia this week traveling under the auspices of the USTA. She reached the semifinals in singles and doubles in the Victoria (Australia) Open Junior tournament last week and has advanced to the semifinals in singles and lost in the doubles quarterfinals at the Australian Open this week.
Steven is the second Kansan to be invited to join the U.S. national team. Wichitan Buff Farrow was a member in 1987.
Steven is the third-youngest player invited. She will turn 16 April 24.
Pam Hartman, USTA official, said being a member of the U.S. national team is junior tennis' highest honor. In the past, the boys have been invited to compete in the Junior Davis Cup and the girls in the Junior Wightman Cup.
''The U.S. national team competes all year long, not just in one major event," Hartman said. "They represent the country in many more events than one."
Hartman said the junior players are not selected on ranking but on their potential to reach the top 20 in the world.
''It's based on the coaching staff's evaluation that they have what it takes," Hartman said. "Of course, that's no guarantee that they'll make it."
The USTA first revealed its interest in Steven when it invited her to compete in the Junior U.S. Open last fall.
Hartman said being on the national team gives players access to world- class coaching and training camps in the United States and to leading professional sports physicians, psychologists and physical therapists.
The USTA also underwrites travel to foreign competition. This week, Steven is in Australia as a member of the U.S. team under Joanne Russell, a former women's tour standout and current television analyst.
Steven earned rankings in two age divisions last year. She has a preliminary ranking of No. 4 in girls 16 and No. 11 in girls 18 singles. She and Katie Schlukebir of Kalamazoo, Mich., are ranked No. 2 in girls 18 doubles.
Except for missing two seasons for treatment of an uncommon bone-growth ailment in her knees, Steven was ranked No. 1 every year she competed in the five-state Missouri Valley Tennis Association. She was No. 1 in girls 12s at age 11 and after the long layoff came back at age 14 and earned a No. 1 ranking in 16s. Last year at age 15, she was ranked No. 1 in 18s.
She has been named the MVTA Player of the Year the last two years.
Last year, she won the doubles championship at the U.S. Grass Courts, was runner-up in doubles in the 18 Clay Courts and reached the semifinals at the 16 Nationals. At the Junior U.S. Open, she defeated Lindsay Davenport, the girls 18 national champion, before losing to the eventual finalist.