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USA League Tennis 3.0 Senior National Championships

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Weekend Notes

by Kelly Hageman

Click here for 3.0 Senior Team Championship photos

Saturday, October 25, 2003

It’s a Small World

In 1966, Mick Whitehill and Gary Hine from the Florida Section graduated from high school together in Iowa. They lost touch after graduation and re-met in Florida in 2001 after buying homes within the Longshore community. Upon becoming reacquainted, they became tennis partners, even though neither one had ever picked up a racquet. Not only are these two partners in tennis, but they also formed a golf condo rental business.

New England women's team
Traveling Net

A couple of the teachers on the New England team received a great sendoff from their coworkers. The gang designed a net, which had several racquets with inspirational messages on them, and presented it to the ladies at a party.

Best Team Nickname Goes to…

Florida women's team
The Swansational Killerettes from the Florida women’s team.
These ladies were donned in white and yellow outfits and duck whistles. The origin of Swansational comes from the swans of Lakeland, Fla., and Killerettes stems from Captain Karen Kilday’s last name. The ladies are honored to be named after the same logo that their city uses. Swans must be good luck because the team is 3-0 and will be appearing in tomorrow’s semifinals. Captain Momma Swan KK noted that the inspiration of the team is Carma Risener. She is their walking miracle who survived cancer twice and got back on the courts. Rumor has it that the team will turn into ducks at the banquet on Saturday night.

Never Give Up

The Texas women’s club has been trying to make it to nationals for seven years. The reason they have continued to compete is because they have gotten close to making it before, so they knew getting to nationals was an attainable goal. The ladies are having a great time being social, healthy and fun-loving in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Lifelong Friends

Ken Sunstrom and Rich Larson of the Northern men’s squad have known each other since elementary school. They have played basketball, baseball, football and tennis together. Sunstrom and Larson have always stayed in close contact with each other even when Larson moved away. When he returned to Minnesota,

Sunstrom convinced him to join the tennis team. “Everything has been first class here. It is so nice to get together with everyone from all the states. We feel fortunate to be here,” they stated when asked about making it nationals.

Southern Pride

A 20-year age difference doesn’t mean much to the Southern men. Joe Bily, 78, and Curtis Thompson, 58, have been partners for a year. Bily, a 30-year tennis veteran, said that he will continue to play as long as his legs hold up. Thompson is greatly inspired by his partner. “Anyone who can play as well as Joe is worth watching. You have to pay attention to his game, he’s doing it right,” Thompson said.

Last Minute Crunch

The New England men’s team made it to nationals after putting a team together one week before the deadline. They started out 0-2 and then won seven straight to make it to sectionals. “The team is a fabulous knit of people. Each person is so committed to the team, they are such a selfless bunch,” Captain Rick Amaral said when asked about the group.

Presidential Inauguration

Alan Schwartz, USTA President and Chairman of the Board, and author of the NTRP rating guidelines, was seen touring the grounds this weekend. This is the first known time that a USTA President has been at a national event. He is in Scottsdale, Ariz., for the USTA/Southwest Section annual meeting.

Sunday Semi’s

There are seven undefeated teams going into tomorrow’s semi-finals. It should be a very competitive and exciting day for the teams and their fans.

Friday, October 24, 2003

Birthday Belle

Valerie Matejowsky, member of the Southern women’s team, celebrated her birthday today in style. “This is a beautiful place to celebrate,” she mentioned. When asked what her birthday wish is, she said that a tournament win this weekend would be the perfect present. Valerie may get what she wished for…her team is 2-0 going into tomorrow’s play.

Competition off the Court

Two teams are vying for the title of best gift givers.

The Northern California women are giving their opponents beautiful bags consisting of two bottles of wine, donated from the La Rochelle winery in San Jose, Calif.; two cans of California almonds; and a copy of a watercolor print of the village they live in which was painted by an artist also from their community.

Stacie Rivers of the Intermountain Section is not only a good tennis player, but also a talented seamstress. She has engraved Halloween-themed towels for her team to give as gifts. Each towel has a Halloween decoration, the Intermountain name versus the section they are competing against and a tennis racquet on it.

And the winner is…well, only their competitors can be the judge of that.

It’s the Golden Girls

The "Golden Girls" of Southern California
No, not the actresses from the popular show in the 1980’s, but the fun loving girls from Los Angeles. Led by Carmen Hill, or “Lady Shaq” as the girls like to call her, the Southern California women’s team is very happy to be here especially because some of the members have never played competitive tennis. What makes the team different is they are all new together and there are many cultures represented. These diverse women get along so well because they share the universal theme of loving tennis and Los Angeles. “We feel great about being here at nationals. We would love to make it to number one,” Hill stated.

War Hero

Edward Gates
78-year-old Ed Gates from the Florida Section knows the meaning of teamwork. He earned two purple hearts in World War II as a sergeant in the infantry. Now he devotes himself to tennis and his team. As a 45-year tennis veteran, Gates has been to 14 sectionals and regionals, but this is his first trip to nationals. His motivation for continuing to play is the camaraderie of the team, playing with the young guys and the health benefits.

Better Late than Never

A four-hour trip to Scottsdale, Ariz., ended up taking the Midwest women’s team 13 hours. They were delayed at the Detroit airport and when the women were finally able to get on the plane, they had to get back off because of engine trouble. Now that the ladies are here they think it’s going to be a piece of cake.

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