Captain Dawn Berstein leads USTA Eastern into the 4.5 Nationals, the team dedicating their play to teammate Lelibeth Gloria.
© Kent Horner
By Jessica Hall, special to USTA.com
The USTA Eastern 18 & Over women’s 4.5 team enters its first USTA League National Championships with a heavy heart.
Lelibeth Gloria, captain of her metro team in New York and player for the USTA Eastern women’s team, battled cancer for a couple years, passing away a day before the team left for Nationals in Tucson, Ariz.
Captain Dawn Bernstein said the team plans to dedicate this weekend to its teammate, who left an indelible impact on her squad.
“Our team is devastated,” Bernstein said. “She was the fighting spirit on our team and it’s going to be hard not playing with her.”
The fighting spirit Gloria brought to the team both on the court and off will carry with the USTA Eastern women’s team forever.
“We played with Lelibeth through the course of her battle with cancer and she would have treatment one day and the next day be out on the court,” Bernstein said. “She played Sectionals with us and looked fabulous. She always thought she could win every match and never gave up.”
The team out of Long Island has been playing together for 10 years now and has never been past Sectionals before this year.
“I’m so happy that our team came together to get here,” Bernstein said. “It’s great for us to get away, and it’s the perfect excuse to get away together as friends as well as competitors. We all want the same thing and everybody came together to accomplish this.”
The perfect capstone would be a title, but win or lose, the Eastern women plan to play proudly in honor of their beloved teammate.
“It would be huge for us if we came here and won for Lelibeth,” Bernstein said. “She would want us to come and fight hard and play our best and win the whole thing.”
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