The Florida Women's 4.0 Adult team.
© Paul Slater/USTA
By Blake Grimsley
TUCSON – Captain Andrea Derby and the 4.0 Florida women’s team represent what makes USTA Community Tennis so great.
The team, which has been together for three seasons and is based in Fort Lauderdale, is a group of women who love to compete and enjoy being on the tennis court. Their season typically lasts from October through May.
“Tennis is a great way for us to get together and do the things we love,” said Derby.
Over the 2007 season, the team competed in 21 matches and won each of them. Once it was time for sectional play, the Florida team continued their stellar play but ended up being topped by another team in Florida by one point. Although they had a perfect regular season, the ending was still bittersweet.
So Derby and her teammates made a promise. They pledged that once the 2008 season rolled around, they would be ready to take care of “their” unfinished business.
“We knew we must take this and make it our own,” said Derby. “We couldn’t let any distractions get in our way.”
Proving that hard work and perseverance will pay off, the Florida team culminated their local season as the top team.
But just a week after clinching the title, the USTA informed Derby that one of the teams players was ineligible and thus the team was disqualified.
“We were all set to compete in Regionals, said Derby. “Our team was ecstatic and getting ready to prepare. But a week later we got the call from the USTA giving us the bad news.”
The team, naturally downtrodden often what they just went through, held their annual team party to get together and celebrate their season. The team also had a sense of slight optimism has the USTA would review their ruling, this time on a different “court”
On Mother’s Day at precisely noon, the Florida team received news that the USTA had granted the team a “lifeline” in a sense, and that they were going to be able to compete at Regionals.
“It is our destiny to be competing here this weekend at the championships in Tucson,” said Derby. “We traveled here a few days early to prepare, but were struggling getting accustomed to the dry climate. When we woke up on Friday to find it humid and rainy, we just knew this weekend would be our time.”
The rest, as they say, is history.
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