Earl Tilly (left), Gary Nelson (front), Dave Schulz (back), Roger Barnhart (right) of the Pacific Northwest Section 7.0 men's team.
© Juan Ocampo
By J. Fred Sidhu, special to USTA.com
SURPRISE, Ariz. – It can be said without a shadow of a doubt that the Pacific Northwest Section 7.0 men’s team playing at the 2011 USTA League Super Senior National Championships does not lack any experience.
The team’s roster includes four players over the age of 70. The four began playing years ago and have bonded to establish the chemistry needed to help a team be successful.
The four players, Captain Roger Barnhart and Earl Tilly, who are 77 years old, and Gary Nelson and Dave Schulz, both 74 years old, spoke about the benefits they all receive from playing tennis, including good health and the opportunity to get plenty of exercise, to name just a few.
"We’re bonded, just like any high school team or any college team," said Barnhart, who has played tennis with Tilly for 26 years. "You really like each other. You root for each other, and you know you’re going to play your hardest because you don’t want to let your teammates down."
Barnhart said that his team has been successful in reaching multiple national championships at the Senior and Super Senior levels and was quick to credit all of the members of his team.
"Our goal, of course, is to make it to Nationals," he said. "Our younger players are the ones that get us to Nationals, and we contribute."
The Pacific Northwest Section team, which is based in Wenatchee, Wash., finished first in its flight this weekend at the Surprise Tennis & Racquet Complex to advance to the semifinals.