USA League Tennis presented by Lincoln
2.5 Adult National Championships
Palm Springs, CA
Oct. 7 - 10
Sunday October 10
USA LEAGUE TENNIS Women’s 2.5 Adult National Standings
Champion: Caribbean – Trujillo, Puerto Rico
2nd place: Southern – Bentonville, Ark.
3rd place: Southern California – San Fernando Valley, Calif.
4th place: Pacific Northwest – Tacoma, Wash.
USA LEAGUE TENNIS Men’s 2.5 Adult National Standings
Champion: Caribbean – San Juan, Puerto Rico
2nd place: Intermountain – Salt Lake City, Utah
3rd place: Florida – Gainesville, Fla.
4th place: Southern California – San Gabriel Valley, Calif.
SEMIFINALS AND FINALS RESULTS FROM OCT. 10, 2004
Trujillo, Puerto Rico, def. Bentonville, Ark., 2-1
San Juan, Puerto Rico, def. Salt Lake City, Utah, 3-0
Trujillo, Puerto Rico, def. San Fernando Valley, Calif., 2-1
Bentonville, Ark., def. Tacoma, Wash., 3-0
3rd place match: San Fernando Valley, Calif., def. Tacoma, Wash., 2-1
Men’s SemifinalsSaturday October 9
San Juan, Puerto Rico, def. San Gabriel Valley, Calif., 3-2
Salt Lake City, Utah, def. Gainesville, Fla., 2-1
3rd place match: Gainesville Fla., def. San Gabriel Valley, Calif., 2-1
By Scott Rodman
Leading by Example
|Sunnyvale, Calif. captain John Alexandro is a true inspiration.© Cynthia Lum|
Perseverance is a large part of USA League Tennis. When you are down you have teammates to help pull you up. The Men’s 2.5 Northern California Sectional Champions from Sunnyvale, Calif. have a person on their team that helps them without even saying a word. John Alexandro is the captain of the team. Not only is he an inspiration on the court with his leadership skills, but off the court as well. Last year John was diagnosed with throat cancer. For as long as he could John continued captaining three separated teams, two 2.5 teams and one 3.0. He would compete in 8-12 matches per season until he was too weak to continue participating. Since last year John has made a full recovery. At 71 years old he is still the captain of three teams as well as an established ballroom dancer, and martial artist. This team is at its first National Championship and hopes to win behind the courage and heart of their captain and leader John Alexandro.
Surging their way to Victory
|Nothing was going to stop these girls from making it to Palm Springs.© Cynthia Lum|
No rain, no snow, no sleet, no hail could stop the women from De Land, Fla. from reaching Palm Springs. Just in time for sectionals the problems began. Hurricane Charlie came through the Daytona area knocking power out for team members from 1-3 days. Play was cancelled and rescheduled. As the ladies were ready for sectionals the second time around Hurricane Francis came along. This was a devastating storm that left people without power for five days. Team captain Cynthia Speer had seven trees on her property destroyed. So once again the sectional tournament was postponed and rescheduled. As she did the two previous times, Mother Nature was not in the mood to cooperate and Hurricane Jeanne came canceling the sectionals once again. With time running out it was determined that the sectional champion would not be determined on the tennis court, but by picking a name out of a hat. The team from Jacksonville was drawn, however, they declined the invitation leaving De Land (who was drawn second) as the winner. The team happily accepted and is now here in Palm Springs fighting it out for a chance at the title. Waiting for them when they return to Florida is Tropical Storm Matthew (they just can’t get away from it).
A Small World
|The Texas ladies along with their extreme coach Andy Swortfiguer.© Cynthia Lum|
The ladies of Austin, Texas have only been playing together as a team since April of this year. Amazingly, they have already reached the National Championships. While having a friendly conversation, team member April Lofton met someone from her past. Dionne West is a member of the women’s team from Florida and lives in the small town De Land, which happens to be the town that Lofton grew up in. During the conversation West mentioned that her husband was a doctor. Being from the area Lofton thought about it and came to realize that West’s husband was the doctor that had taken care of her mother in the hospital prior to her passing. The two couldn’t believe what a small world it is after all.
This Texas team has yet another story behind them though. Not only are these ladies a group of good athletes but their coach Andy Swortfiguer is also. He participates in the extreme sport of paddle tennis. Paddle tennis is not a large sport in the United States however; Andy is on his way to Spain this November as a member of the United States Paddle Tennis Team to compete in the World Championships. Good luck to coach Swortfiguer and the ladies from Austin.
|Working Together pays off© Cynthia Lum|
Teams at the 2.5 National Championships work well together on and off the court. The Northern Section women’s champions from Rochester, Minn. know what it takes. The whole team works for a Mayo Clinic as pathologists. Four of eight work in the exact same department. The solidarity they achieve in the workplace has now transferred out onto the tennis court. The team has only team together for one year and has already reached the National Championships and is looking to continue their winning ways in Palm Springs.
Friday October 8
By Scott Rodman
A Game to "Smile" About
|These women are always smiling.© Cynthia Lum|
The Women 2.5 Southern Section Champions came all the way here from Bentonville, Ark. Never heard of Bentonville? Well it is the home of one of the largest retailers in the world, Wal-Mart. These ladies all play at the Walton Life Facility, a club that was donated to the town by Sam and Helen Walton, the founders of Wal-Mart. Only Wal-Mart employees and their spouses are allowed to use this facility (in the case of this team its all spouses). In order to keep the spirit of Wal-Mart, the ladies all have the well known “smiley face” logo in the center of their tennis racquets. And of course the strings are yellow to match the smiling face we all have seen in the commericals and in the store.
|Syracuse's Greg McPhee heating up on the courts. © Cynthia Lum|
From one complete extreme to another. That explains the route that the Men’s 2.5 Eastern Section Champions took to get to the National Championships in Palm Springs. Hailing from Syracuse, NY, the men have to get through all of the elements in order to get their share of tennis played. Last winter the boys had to deal with 190 inches of snow that starts in October and lasts until April and sometimes even May. And when it is fall everywhere else in the Northeast it's winter in upstate New York. The team had to endure the first frosting of the season earlier this week. They were up early scraping the ice of their windshields. Now they find themselves in the 100 temperatures of Palm Springs, CA battling to be crowned National Champions.
Practice makes Perfect
|Lots of practice helped these ladies reach the National Championships© Cynthia Lum|
Hard work pays off in the end. The Women from the San Fernando Valley in Southern California know what that statement means first hand. The core group of this team was put together three years ago and has been working hard ever since. Starting in January they practice most Tuesday’s and do drills almost every Thursday. When nothing is scheduled on a weekend they are back on the courts playing some more. Once the springtime rolled around it was back to the same routine, however this time they practiced every single Tuesday for eight straight weeks, and did drills every Thursday. It all worked out well, as the 2.5 Southern California Section Champs make the short journey to Palm Springs, for a shot at the National Title.