MORGANTOWN — In her own backyard, Lyla Byers proved she was one of the best tennis players in her age group in the Mid-Atlantic region.
On Monday morning at Summit Tennis Academy, in an emotional back-and-forth in the championship match of the United States Tennis Association Level 4 tournament for the Mid-Atlantic section, consisting of players from Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C. and West Virginia.
Byers, though, was the only representative from the Mountain State as a Morgantown native, and she made her home state proud with a thrilling win in the championship match (2-6, 7-6 (4), 10-7).
“Lyla is playing largely against these bigger metropolitan areas with lot of clubs, lots of kids, so for her to win this level of a tournament and be the only kid from West Virginia in it … is quite huge,” said Doug Hornak, director of tennis at Summit.
Byers, 14, is in eighth grade and will be a part of the University High tennis program beginning next year. Her father, Justin, is the current owner of Summit, but Lyla has had a tennis racket in her hand since she was a toddler.
“I started playing when I was probably around 3, but I didn’t really start playing every day until I was about 9,” she said.
When Byers says every day, she means it. According to her, she plays about two hours per day with maybe some extra time on the weekends. When she plays in tournaments, that number goes up even higher.
Tennis is a critical part of her life, and winning this tournament is the next step for Byers, working toward competing in national tournaments.
“You get national points toward your UTSA record,” she said. “I’ve never won two matches in the main draw of the national tournament, so this was really good.”
Growing Summit Tennis Academy
When Justin Byers took over as owner of Summit Tennis Academy, there were only about 20 members of the juniors program. Since, it’s grown to about 250.
The growing popularity in tennis, as well as access to the game, has helped Summit increase its numbers, even through the COVID-19 pandemic.
With training sessions for kids age 4 and up, including adults, Hornak said there is a little something for everyone.
“If they come here and really get into it, we have the tools to get them to whatever level they want,” Hornak said. “We’re all about having a fun experience with the kids or playing to whatever level they want. We try to meet them wherever their needs are and get them to fall in love with the game.”