The "Old Bettys" have found ways to enjoy the long travel necessary to find competition back home in Montana.
© Garrett Ellwood
By J. Fred Sidhu, special to USTA.com
SURPRISE, Ariz. – For the women’s Intermountain Section team from Missoula, Mont., the journey to this weekend’s 2013 USTA League Adult 55 & Over7.0 National Championships at the Surprise Tennis & Racquet Complex just happened to be a little longer than most teams.
The seven-member squad calls themselves the “Old Bettys” – “Betty” being a snowboarding term; Missoula is located in the Northern Rocky Mountains, a nice habitat for sporty, outdoorsy folk – playing out of the PEAK Racquet Club in Missoula. Last October, they began USTA League play. Montana is one of the largest states in the country but it’s hardly a densely populated area; in fact, the only other team in their League played in Billings, Mont., approximately 350 miles to the east.
Not to be deterred by the six-hour trip, the “Old Bettys” packed two cars and drove to Billings. They found the travel allowed them to become even closer as a team.
“We talked about a lot of things,” said team captain Kathy Hayes. “We talked about everybody’s kids, about tennis and life. We’ve all been friends a really long time. We all know each other very, very well.”
The “Old Bettys” enjoyed the weekend in Billings, winning four matches over span of three days to earn a spot in the Intermountain Sectional Championships in Las Vegas.
So they hit the road once more.
“When we went to Sectionals, we really didn’t know what to expect,” Hayes said of the March tournament. “We had been playing indoors all winter and we get to Las Vegas and it’s hot with 30 mph winds. We hadn’t hit a ball outdoors since last summer.”
Starting slowly, they lost their first two matches on the first day but rallied to capture their final three matches and win a deciding tiebreak to advance to the 7.0 National Championships.
This week, the team logged major frequent flyer miles once more, flying from Missoula to Seattle and then connecting to Phoenix before an hour’s drive to Surprise.
With a national title just a handful of victories away, the real journey begins.
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