Eastern Section's Cindy Underriner at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
© Jennifer Pottheiser
By J. Fred Sidhu, Special to USTA.com
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – When a team wins their USTA Sectional League Championship to earn a trip to the USTA League Nationals, players usually celebrate the happy occasion. However, as the Eastern Section 3.0 Senior women were winning their Sectional Championship last month in Schenectady, N.Y., Cindy Underriner began to feel nervous and uneasy.
"I knew if we won, I was going to have to fly," said Underriner, a resident of Cazenovia, N.Y. who reached her first Nationals after playing USTA League tennis for 17 years.
It was 35 years ago when Underriner was traveling on a flight to Florida. The plane suddenly lost altitude and dropped thousands of feet. "Everyone on the plane went flying. People were injured and screaming," Underriner recollected. "It was just a nightmare."
Due to a fear of flying, Underriner had not flown since that incident and now her team would be flying from the East Coast to Indian Wells to play in the USTA League 3.0 Senior National Championships at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
To help conquer the fear of flying and help her prepare for the trip to California, Underriner’s daughter arranged for her to take a short flight from Syracuse, N.Y. to New York City earlier this month.
Even though she did not have any problems due to her fear of flying, Underriner suffered from severe vertigo during the short flight. "Whenever the plane changed elevation or turned, I got really, really, dizzy," she said.
Underriner, a director of development at her local pre-school and daycare center, ultimately realized that she would be unable to accompany her team on their flight to Nationals. "I knew that I couldn’t fly for six hours," she said.
Underriner’s husband Larry then made a decision that would make her participation in the Nationals possible. "My husband (Larry) just looked at me and said ‘We’ll just drive,’" she said with a feeling of relief.
"We’re a tennis family. We both looked at this as an opportunity we didn’t want to miss. I just didn’t want her to miss this opportunity. She’s worked so hard," Larry said. "The whole team has worked so hard to get to this point. It was really special to be here. "
Underriner, who became emotional at times as she spoke about what it took for her to get to Nationals, said, "He’s always been very supportive of my tennis. He comes to all the matches. I was just thrilled that he (Larry) knows how much it meant to me."
On Friday, Oct. 21, Underriner and her husband left their home in Cazenovia, N.Y. for the approximate 2,600 mile trip. They drove 14 hours a day and arrived in Indian Wells on Tuesday, Oct. 25, the same day the rest of the Eastern women’s team flew into California.
"My team was so supportive through everything. No matter what it was, they were so supportive. They’re awesome," Underriner said.
for more stories from the 2011 USTA League National Championships.