Captain Trucki Marasco and Dena Deluca
© Jen Pottheiser
By Jeffrey Seals, USTA.com
The Intermountain 4.0 women’s team did not have to travel far to the 2009 USTA League National Championships, as the event is being held in their own backyard, but they did have to overcome some hardships in getting here.
Captain Trucki Marasco and Dena Deluca have spent a good portion of their lives together, but didn’t know each other for a good share of it. The duo attended Las Vegas’ Clark High School in the early 1980s, but was unaware of each other. Dena was even a three-time state champion on the Chargers’ tennis team.
Their paths crossed once again with help from tennis. The pair has been teammates for eight years, but the current squad has only been together for about a year. Prior to the two joining the same team, Marasco actually participated on the second-place team at the 3.5 nationals about 10 years ago in Tucson, Ariz.
Besides the love of tennis, the pair has had to overcome health issues in their lives. Marasco just recently donated bone marrow to an ailing sister, while Deluca had to have a Meningioma brain tumor removed five years ago.
When Marasco’s sister was diagnosed with leukemia, she and her brothers immediately went and got tested to see if they could help her out. “I turned out to be a perfect match, which only 20% are,” noted Marasco.
After learning she was a match for her sister, she began going to the City of Hope in Phoenix, Ariz., for blood work and other tests.
“I was able to work around my tennis schedule,” said Marasco. “Before winning sectionals I had to go down there and give blood. I flew home that Sunday and was back down at the City of Hope on Monday. I was taking growth hormone shots the following week before they took ‘nine-million cells’ from me on September 1.”
Marasco’s sister is doing well now and was just released from the hospital this past Sunday.
“It was tough going out and playing after having this done.”
The team is playing in honor of her sister this weekend as they wear the infamous yellow and black colors made famous by Lance Armstrong and his “Livestrong” campaign. Marasco is even wearing the yellow bracelet around her ankle for support.
Deluca’s health problem occurred back in 2005 when she noticed something was amiss as she losing her balance and was having vertigo. She was diagnosed with the Meningioma in November of that year, but due to her busy schedule and six children the surgery did not take place until May 2006.
The non-cancerous tumor kept her from participating with her team in sectionals played in Utah that year.
Meningiomas are benign tumors that develop in the thin membranes, or meninges, that cover the brain and spinal cord. Meningiomas usually grow slowly and do not invade surrounding normal tissue. They rarely spread to other parts of the central nervous system or body.
Following the surgery, she had to work her way back into the normal routine of things.
“I couldn’t drive for six months,” said Deluca. “I had to have my 16-year-old daughter drive me around. I couldn’t play tennis for a year.”
It took her nearly three years to get back to her normal level of playing.
Luckily, for the team Deluca and Marasco are back to their normal selves and hoping to keep the championship in Las Vegas!