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It's all in the family

August 1, 2013 12:01 AM

 "It’s all in the family…" a popular saying that’s proven to be true for the Mukherjee family. Brother and sister Josh and Tia each competed in the USTA/Midwest Section Closed Championship and won the singles titles in their respective age divisions. It’s not uncommon for siblings to each win the same tournament – just not in the same year. Josh and Tia share their thoughts about winning one of the most prestigious junior tournaments and what their goals are for the future.

Tennis often is a family sport. It’s not uncommon for children of tennis players to become players themselves, leading to siblings, parents and grandparents all sharing a love for the game. In fact, the USTA/Midwest Section recognizes a "Family of the Year" during its Annual Meeting.
Junior tennis players and siblings Josh and Tia Mukherjee have both played tennis since the age of 3. In recent years they have often played in the same tournament, as do many siblings, but this year both Josh and Tia won the USTA/Midwest Section Closed Championship title in their respective age divisions – something typically not seen.
"I’ve been working to win this tourney since I started playing (for) USTA when I was seven," explained Josh after his win. "I felt very proud and happy to have finally won it."
Sister Tia was also happy about her brother’s win. "I was happy for him. I see him work so hard on the court next to mine every day. It was very special," she said. About her own win, she can’t hide her excitement. "It’s the biggest Midwest tournament and it feels good when you win because people will learn about it and respect your level of play," she said.
Although Josh is two years older than Tia, big brother says he has a lot of respect for Tia’s game. "She can hit really good volleys and has the ability to place it (the ball) right where she wants," he said. And of course Tia loves to watch Josh play. "I like his forehand and how he hits a lot of winners during his matches; it makes it fun to watch," she said.
Both Josh and Tia say that tennis has always been, and continues to be fun for them, despite long practice sessions every day. "We practice two to three hours each day, but I just love to get out and play… it’s really fun," said Josh. "I was always good at racquet sports and this one just came easier for me."
But both Josh and Tia acknowledge it’s not just how good you are physically that makes you successful, the mental aspect of the game is just as important. "You need to be both physically and mentally strong. The physical aspect is so important, but when matches get tight, if you’re not mentally strong you could fall apart," said Josh.
Tia says that the mental aspect is one of her strengths but agrees that physical strength is also important. "I think I’m more mentally strong, but I try to be physically strong by just working at it every day."
Tia entered the tournament seeded third but upset the top-seeded player in the semifinal, going on to win the 12 and Under Singles Championship. Josh was the top seed in 14 and Under and met expectations by winning the title. However, both he and Tia see this as a stepping stone to the next level.
"I’m trying to become number one in the nation," said Josh, who will be a freshman this coming year. "I am going to play for my school and in the next few years I’d also like to travel internationally."
"I want to become number one in my age division so I can move into the 14s quicker," said Tia. "I hope to move through the age groups so I can play in more tournaments, both nationally and internationally," said Tia.
Both Josh and Tia say that USTA membership has opened up new opportunities for them to advance their game. "Through USTA we have the opportunity to play in more tournaments and that gives you an advantage," said Josh. "It (USTA) gives you rankings and recognition and I think that’s really important."