The Florida 8.0 Super Seniors men's team has survived medical scares to thrive at League Nationals in Surprise, Ariz.
© Jen Pottheiser
By J. Fred Sidhu, special to USTA.com
SURPRISE, Ariz. – When one of their players came down with a medical emergency at the last moment, the Florida Section Super Senior men’s 8.0 team was left scrambling to find a replacement to field the minimum six players needed to play in the 2011 USTA League National Championship.
The Florida Section men’s team, which is based in Clearwater, Fla., not only found the replacement, they went on to open the National Championships with an impressive 3-0 victory over the USTA Northern Section men’s 8.0 team at the Surprise Tennis & Racquet Complex.
Earlier this week on Tuesday, team member Joe Persak awoke with a medical condition and was advised by his doctor not to travel, said team captain Rick Whissel. On Thursday, Persak underwent emergency surgery and has more surgery scheduled for Monday.
With Persak unable to accompany the team to Arizona the team contacted other players on their roster who had not planned to make the trip to the National Championship.
"We tried to convince a couple of guys on the team that had other reasons why they couldn’t come, to change their plans and support the team," Whissel said. "We finally convinced Darrel (Stewart) early in the morning on Wednesday and he booked a flight the same day and is here supporting the team."
The team captain had nothing but praise for Stewart, who traveled to the National Championship on short notice. "Darrel…is willing to put things aside for the good of the team," Whissel said. "He’s that kind of a guy. He would never let anybody down."
Whissel and Stewart, who have played together for over 30 years, teamed to score a critical point in their team’s opening victory. "It felt great to win the first match. We know we can’t go home without a victory, so we’re happy," Whissel said.