Team captain Carol Hampson and coach Morris Gardner
By Jessica Hall, special to USTA.com
When coach Morris Gardner first formed his USTA Southern California women’s 18 & Over 3.5 team three years ago, he never thought the team would make it to Nationals.
The talented team of 16 players is comprised completely of mothers who met watching their children play tennis at Queen Anne Recreation Center in Los Angeles, where the kids were coached by Gardner.
Gardner always believed that tennis was the perfect sport through which families could bond and wanted all of the children he taught to be able to play tennis with their moms.
“Each youth practice, the mothers would come watch their children play, so I asked the moms to take lessons with me so we could form a team,” Gardner said. “The team is very diverse.”
For team captain Carol Hampson, the diversity of the group has been an advantage. Her teammate, Nancy Ngo, is a hearing-impaired singles and doubles tennis player, who has taught the rest of the team a lesson in overcoming life’s roadblocks.
“You would never guess that there’s anything wrong because she plays like there’s no problem,” Hampson said.
“She’s an incredible person, and I think we’ve all become more sensitive to the problems other people have, thanks to Nancy,” adds Gardner. “She’s an absolute jewel to work with and is one of the better players we have.”
In 2010, the first year of its existence, the team began the season winning its first five matches and eventually going on to Sectionals. Since then, the mom squad has advanced to Sectionals every year. This year marks the team’s first trip to Nationals.
“I told them that if they came to practice they would become better players, but I couldn’t guarantee that they would win any matches,” Gardner said. “This is an incredible opportunity for our team because we’ve come a long way.”
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