Middle States men's team.
© Andrew Ong/USTA
By Danielle Elliot, USTA.com
TUCSON, AZ - After an exciting weekend at the Reffkin Tennis Center, the USTA Middle States men and USTA Southern women wrapped up the USTA League 3.0 Adult National Championships in thrilling style Sunday afternoon.
The USTA Middle States squad from Westfield, NJ, claimed the men’s title by defeating the USTA Hawaii team from Honolulu, Hawaii, 4-1 in the finals.
Paul Chong and Robert Halfmann secured the title with a grueling 2-6, 6-2, 1-0 (10-6) tiebreak win.
Earlier Sunday morning, the team had advanced to the final in similar fashion. With the overall scored tied at 2-2 in the semifinal, doubles squad Chuck Molinari and Brian Liebeskind won in a tiebreak to advance past the USTA Caribbean team.
“It took a lot of consistency, a lot of heart,” Chong said. “To win on two tiebreakers, Brian and Chuck got us to the finals, and then we got the deciding match. It’s surreal.”
“It was great, great,” Halfmann added, “like a big weight off our shoulders, after playing crap in the second set.”
“We stopped making errors and pulled it together,” Chong added.
USTA Hawaii advanced to the final with a commanding 4-1 win over USTA Eastern in the semifinals.
On the women’s side, the USTA Southern team from Knoxville, Tenn., secured the title with a 3-2 win over USTA Intermountain from Bozeman, Mont., in the finals.
After splitting the doubles and second singles matches 2-2, it all came down to the singles match between Jennifer Brady and Tracy Willard. Willard took the first set 7-5 before Brady rallied to take the second 6-2. The tiebreak was a battle all the way to the final point. Brady emerged victorious, winning 10-8 on a shot that just barely dropped over the net.
USTA Southern was the first team to earn a spot in the final, advancing past USTA Florida by winning their first 4 matches. Florida avoided the sweep by winning 1st doubles. USTA Intermountain advanced to the finals by defeating USTA New England 4-1 in the semifinals.
In the men’s match for third place, the Caribbean team from San Juan, Puerto Rica, swept the USTA Eastern team from Buffalo, NY. The USTA New England team from Milford, Conn, edged the USTA Florida team from Orlanda, Flor., 3-2, to finish in third place in the women’s division.
Each semifinalist advanced to the championship round by winning their round-robin flights contested Friday and Saturday.
This year’s USTA League 3.0 Adult National Championship drew the top 34 teams (17 men’s and 17 women’s) from throughout the nation.
Established in 1980, the USTA League program was created to provide adult recreational tennis players throughout the country with the opportunity to compete against players of similar ability levels. From 13,000 participants in its first year, the USTA League program has grown to more than 711,000 players across the nation. It is the largest recreational tennis league in the world.
Players participate on teams in a league format, which is administered by the USTA through its 17 Sections. The league groups players by using six National Tennis Rating Program (NTRP) levels, ranging from 2.5 (entry) to 5.0 (advanced). USTA League is open to any USTA member 19 years of age or older. It features Adult and Mixed Doubles divisions, as well as a Senior Division (age 50 or older) and a Super Senior Division (age 60 or older).
Head Penn Racquet Sports is in its 22nd year as official ball of USTA League.
For more information about USTA League or the USTA as a whole, visit www.usta.com.