By Nicholas J. Walz, USTA.com
Captain Mark Aronson of the USTA Intermountain 18 & Over men’s 3.0 team is still astonished that he and his group of nine from Boise, Idaho, are just a few wins away from a national title.
“It’s been sheer joy,” said Aronson. “We are the type of team that went out to play, never overconfident, rather aiming to have fun. ‘Amazement’ might be another word to describe it, considering how far we’ve come.”
Aronson speaks not of geography and miles traveled – even though 1,100 miles from Idaho’s capital to Tucson, Ariz., the site of this year’s men’s 3.0 Nationals, is no small trek – but rather the journey from forming the team only two years ago to now. For the Boise nine, it’s the very first time they’ll face national competition.
“Our goals were modest – to make sectionals, given that some of us were so new to USTA League and one another, not to mention the talented players in states like Colorado and Nevada, is an accomplishment,” said Aronson.
The Boise boys are an eclectic bunch. They range in age from 24 to 54. Some are tennis lifers, having been around the game since childhood and with parents who still play USTA League competition past the age of 70. Some are new to everything, like Aronson, who joined the team in 2011.
He had never played until a decade ago, looking for a new sporting experience to stay sharp. An avid cyclist and skier in addition to his play on the court, the 52-year-old surgical technician by day found that tennis was something that he and wife, Sheri, could enjoy together during evenings and weekends after their children moved out of the house.
“I’ve always looked for the right sport to get good exercise, but I’ll also say that part of getting into tennis was a way to get past the kids leaving the nest,” said Aronson, referring to daughter Kristina, 25, and son Jeff, 23, who now plays himself to keep up with his improving parents.
Bringing his family closer and broadening his horizons, Aronson is thankful he decided to pick up a racquet.
“For me, to start up two years ago and be part of this sort of competition, I don’t know where else you can find that,” he added. “It gets the blood flowing. Just an unbelievably unique event and program.
“I could see myself doing this for 20 or 25 more years, easily.”