Steve Schroeder (l) and Ken Lowes of the St. Louis-based Missouri Valley Section Super Senior 7.0 men’s team.
© Juan Ocampo
By J. Fred Sidhu, special to USTA.com
SURPRISE, Ariz. – The path to the Championships is different for every team playing at this weekend’s USTA League 7.0 & 9.0 Super Senior Nationals at the Surprise Tennis and Racquet Club.
One team managed to win its Sectional Championship by a razor-thin margin to advance to Nationals and then went on to win its flight to reach the semifinals.
The St. Louis-based Missouri Valley Section Super Senior 7.0 men’s team, led by co-captains Bob Lietz and Bob Kohlenhoefer, won its league last summer and played its Sectional Championship in September in Springfield, Mo.
The competition was extremely tight, and the final match on the last day would determine which team would advance to Nationals.
The St. Louis team was in a must-win situation and ended up having to go to the second tiebreak procedure, which is fewest sets lost, before they could clinch their spot at Nationals.
It all came down to the No. 2 doubles team of Ken Lowes and Steve Schroeder, who were unaware that if they lost even one set, it would end their team’s chances of winning their Sectional Championship.
Fortunately for the St. Louis team, Lowes and Schroeder responded with a clutch, straight-sets victory to give the team a one-set advantage in fewest sets lost and seal their trip to Arizona.
"If we lost one more set, it didn’t make any difference if we had won the match or not. We would have lost the tiebreaker," said co-captain Lietz. "Our players had no idea. We chose not to tell the players on the court (Lowes and Schroeder) because that would probably tense them up."
According to Lietz, team members waited for about 30 minutes until the official score was posted. "Nobody left for the long drive back to St. Louis until we had the official results," he said.
At this weekend’s National Championships, the Missouri Valley Section Super Senior 7.0 men’s team finished with a 3-0 record in their flight to advance to Saturday afternoon’s semifinals against the Pacific Northwest Section.