Northern California's Akiko Kearney is focused as she strokes a forehand.
© Garrett Ellwood/USTA
Sheryl Lawrentz (left) and Akiko Kearney won the No. 1 Doubles match for Northern California.
© Garrett Ellwood/USTA
By J. Fred Sidhu, special to USTA.com
Indian Wells, Calif. – The Northern Section men’s team, the Florida Section men’s team and Northern California Section women’s team booked spots in Sunday’s USTA league 3.5 Senior National Championships as they all finished at the top of their respective Flights at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
After finishing Flight 7 with a spotless 3-0 record, the Northern Section men’s team from Fridley, Minn. became the first team at this weekend’s National Championships to advance to the semifinals.
On Saturday morning, the Northern Section men got past the Pacific Northwest Section men’s team, 2-1 as they won the No. 1 and No. 3 doubles matches.
After Peter Haan and Tom Yue won the No. 1 doubles match 6-4, 7-5 over Steve Sanford and Jeff Gonzales, Dale Chilton and Tom Galvan combined to win the No. 3 doubles match for the Northern Section with a thrilling 6-0, 4-6, 1-0 victory over Mike Sheridan and Jeff Elliot of Pacific Northwest.
The Florida Section men’s team finished play in Flight 8 in a three-way tie for first place with Mid-Atlantic and Eastern with a 2-1 record, but advanced to Sunday’s semifinals as they won the tiebreaker procedure by losing fewer sets than their opponents.
It was an exciting finish in Flight 2 at the Northern California Section women’s team from Walnut Creek, Calif. edged previously undefeated Middle States, 2-1. The Northern California women, who were 13-0 in league competition earlier this year, ended play in Flight 2 with a 3-0 record to clinch a semifinal spot.
Northern California’s Akiko Kearney and Sheryl Lawrentz got their team off to a strong start in the No. 1 Doubles match as they defeated Linda Straga and Christina Geiger of Middle States, 7-6, 6-0.
"It’s just exhilarating. It’s awesome. I’m really proud of them," said Northern Section women’s team captain Myrl Kan after her team defeated Middle States. "They’ve been strong all season and they’ve come through tight matches like they did today."
Kan said her team is focused and ready for Sunday’s semifinals.
"We have early curfew tonight," she said with a laugh. "We have a good shot at it (title). I have a lot of faith and confidence in them."
Here are the match-ups for Sunday's semifinals at the 2012 USTA League 3.5 Senior National Championships at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, Calif.
Semifinal 1: Southwest (Sun Lakes, Ariz.) vs. Northern (Fridley, Minn.)
Semifinal 2: Northern California (Fresno, Calif.) vs. Florida (Ocala, Fla.)
Semifinal 1: Pacific Northwest (Richland, Wash.) vs. Mid-Atlantic (Fairfax, Va.)
Semifinal 2: Northern California (Walnut Creek) vs. Intermountain (Boise, Idaho)