By Blake Grimsley, USTA.com
The men’s Pacific Northwest team from Wenatchee, Wash. at the Super Senior 7.0 National Championships presented by Chrysler is made up of quite the interesting collection of tennis players.
The team, which has been together since winning the 7.0 Super Senior 2003 National Championship, has one active mayor, one state representative, a former professional baseball player and six current or former high school coaches.
“Yeah, we’re pretty old,” laughs team captain Roger Barnhart. “Earl Tilly and myself started playing together roughly 20 years ago and our current group formed in 2003.”
Keith Vradenburg is maybe the team’s most interesting story. Vradenburg is currently the mayor of Entiat, Washington, a small town located in Central Washington.
“We’re a town with a population of about 4,000,” said Vradenburg. “Our team is pretty interesting with all the different personalities and positions each of us have held over the years. We love being out here. The weather has definitely a little different especially with the wind today, but we’re excited.”
This is the Wenatchee team’s eighth time competing at nationals and consists of some of the top super senior players in Washington.
“I formed the team after playing against many of them over the years,” said Barnhart. “See we have a local tournament in Wenatchee and I have either coached or played against all of our current group. We’ve all been friends for a number of years.”
The team decided to get serious after the 2002 season and put together the chemistry needed to win a national championship. It did not come without a fight though as they have had to go through a Spokane team which had typically represented the Pacific Northwest section at the USTA National Championships.
“Our league matches are very tough, but we battled it out this year and are very glad to be back, said Barnhart.”
In addition to the state rep and current mayor, the team also has a player who played professional baseball in his younger years. Glenn Rediger played Class A minor league baseball for a few seasons before going into business.
“He’s our big guy,” said Barnhart. Rediger and his partner Dave Schultz were defeated by the team of Don Wheeler and Allen Boetig from Mid Atlantic by the score of 6-3, 7-5.
Rounding out the group is Keith Koch, a current high school tennis coach at Cascade High School in Everett, Wash.
Koch and his doubles partner, Jim Furman, notched the Pacific Northwest men’s team only win over Mid Atlantic’s Gary Van Velsir and Richard Gong with a score of 6-3, 6-3.
With all the years of experience both on and off the court, the Pacific Northwest men’s team should be a force to be reckoned with in Surprise this weekend.
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