by Fred Allemann, usta.com
The opening day of the 2008 USTA League presented by Chrysler National Championship – Western Mixed Doubles got underway. Despite cloudy skies and a slight morning chill at both sites in the Sacramento area, teams eagerly took the court, beginning their pursuit of a national championship.
The 44 teams are competing November 21-23 at the Gold River and Broadstone Racquet Clubs. (The champions of the other eight USTA sections in the Eastern United States are also competing, November 21-23, at the 2008 USTA League presented by Chrysler National Championship – Eastern Mixed Doubles in Altamonte Springs, Florida.)
The teams, which represent various clubs, parks and recreational departments and community tennis associations, have won their USTA section championship at events held earlier this year. (Five of the 44 teams competing were second-place finishers at those USTA section championship and received wildcards.) The nine USTA sections represented at the Western Mixed Doubles are: Hawaii/Pacific, Intermountain, Missouri Valley, Northern, Northern California, Southern California, Southwest and Texas.
The teams compete at five different levels: 6.0, 7.0., 8.0, 9.0 and 10.0. The league groups players by using six National Tennis Rating Program (NTRP) levels, ranging from 2.5 (beginner) to 5.5 (advanced). For mixed doubles, the combined rating of the two players on an individual doubles team cannot exceed the level at which they are competing. Each team match features three individual mixed doubles matches. Across the nation, there were over 100,000 participants on 8,253 mixed doubles teams at the local level this year.
On Friday and Saturday, November 21 and 22, teams complete in round-robin play in flights. On Sunday, November 23, the top teams from the flights will face off in semifinal and final round matches to determine the national champions at each of the five levels.
The 2008 tournament is organized by the USTA Northern California section and the USTA in cooperation with strong local volunteer support. Anna Elefant, the League Coordinator for the host USTA Northern California section states, “We’ve got the cream of the crop from over 8,000 mixed doubles teams and we’re thrilled to be hosting these national championships here in Gold River. It’s going to be a fantastic event.”
Matches are being played at the Gold River Racquet Club, outside Sacramento, California. An additional satellite site, the Bloodstone Racquet Club is also being used. Both clubs are part of the Spare Time network of multi-recreational fitness clubs in the Sacramento area. The Gold River Racquet Club is located at 2201 Gold Rush Drive, Gold River, California while the Broadstone Racquet Club is 820 Halidon Way, Folsom, California. Spectators and press are welcome at both sites.