Tristan Vivona always wanted to be a roller hockey champion, just like his dad, but there are no hockey rinks at Birchwood Tennis Club.
"He just said 'Why don't we just see what tennis is like?'" Vivona recalled. "I was hitting the ball pretty well. So, we decided to keep going at it."
"I said, 'You know what? I think he'll get to keep all his teeth and I think he has pretty good hand-eye coordination. So tennis would make more sense for him to play,'" Tristan Father, Jimmy Vivona joked. "It was a good decision, I think, so far."
"Maybe tennis was just my sport?" Tristan shrugged. "I don't know."
I think he does know. The 10-year-old dropped the stick and picked up a racquet when he moved to Waymart in 2015. Four years later, with the instruction of Tim Haus and the team at Birchwood, Vivona's becoming one of the best young tennis players in the area.
"He loves tennis," Haus said of Vivona. "He's a student of the game. His improvement has been very, very steady this year. He's climbing the rankings in the Middle States. He's worked hard. He never gives up."
All of Vivona's hard work paid off on Easter Sunday. That's when he won the Boys 12U Middle States Sectional Championship right here on these courts at Birchwood.
"It's a pretty big tournament for me to win," Tristan said. "I'm more confident in myself because I just gained a lot."
Winning a sectional tournament puts Vivona in good position to make the National Zonal 12U Championship team, but he's not alone. According to Haus, Birchwood has at least eight players with a legitimate chance, including 12-year-old Kyle Chesman, ranked 25th in the Middle States rankings, tops in the area.
"It would be fantastic," Chesman said of making it to the national team. "I love telling, kind of bragging to my friends that I'm top in the nation for my age."
"You see all these pro players and I want to be like them," Vivona said.
"I think the goal for every one of these young kids is to play college tennis, hopefully on a scholarship," his father, Jimmy added. "If you are able to accomplish that, to me, that's like a lottery ticket. Anything else is gravy."
The National Zonal Championships are this July in Mercersburg, PA.