The New England team after arriving safely in Tucson
© Andrew Ong
Players on the New England team are giving their opponents autographed CDs from Grammy Award-winning singer James Taylor
© Andrew Ong
By Matt Birch, special to USTA.com
TUCSON, Ariz. -- All of the teams competing at the USTA Adult League Mixed National Championships had to overcome difficult opponents just to make it to this weekend’s tournament at the Hilton El Conquistador Resort. However, in order to get to Tucson, some members of the New England section 7.0-level team had to defeat an additional opponent: the weather.
The New England team is from Pittsfield, Mass., and competes at the Berkshire West Athletic Club. The team is captained by Laurie Andretta, who flew with her husband Edward from Hartford, Conn., to Tucson with a layover in Minneapolis, but they almost didn’t make their flight due to rainy and icy conditions on the road to the airport.
Andretta explained that there was ice covering the roads, and there were many car accidents along the road as a result, which heavily slowed down traffic. Despite leaving her home almost three hours early, Andretta arrived at Bradley International Airport just 25 minutes prior to takeoff.
"It was scary," Andretta said. "There was ice all over, and we only had 25 minutes to get on a plane."
Thankfully, the airport staff was very helpful, and she was able to make it through security and on to her flight with just minutes to spare.
In addition to competing, Laurie and Edward are celebrating their honeymoon on this trip to Tucson. They are now enjoying their time in Southern Arizona and have visited Mount Lemmon.
Unfortunately, Andretta was not the only member of the team to experience a travel scare this week. Linda Shafiroff was traveling with her son, Kadin, and was on a flight from Hartford to their connecting flight city of Atlanta.
As the plane was gaining speed on the runway and about to take off, a major problem with the left engine occurred, which Shafiroff described as an explosion.
"There was a really loud noise, and the pilot jammed on the brakes," Shafiroff explained. "We were almost at full speed on the ground."
After the plane was examined by mechanics, the flight was canceled, and Linda and Kadin were forced to find an alternate flight to Arizona. With their new itinerary, they had to fly into Phoenix and ultimately made it to Tucson, after renting a car and driving for the remainder of their journey.
Another disappointing incident for the Shafiroff’s was that Kadin’s suitcase did not make it to Phoenix when Linda and Kadin arrived. It would be one more day before they were reunited with the luggage.
Despite all of their difficulties, the New England team has made it safely to Tucson, where they will compete at the National Championships and be able to partake in the gift exchange with their opponents.
They are providing their opponents with a very unique gift, as they have autographed CDs from Grammy Award winning singer and fellow Berkshire resident James Taylor, whose sons are classmates with Kadin.
This team has proved its determination and that nothing, including "Fire and Rain," will stop them from competing at the National Championships.