Small in number yet big on talent and ambition, this Georgia sextet advanced to both their first ever Sectionals and Nationals in 2011.
© Juan Ocampo
By Matt Birch, special to USTA.com
TUCSON, Ariz. - The 8.0 Southern representatives from Flowery Branch, Ga. come to Tucson with a limited roster of active players - yet through the unified support of their local community, they made it to Nationals.
Each of the six team members live in the same community, Sterling on the Lake, and met one another through casually playing tennis in the neighborhood. Because they only have the minimum six players, everybody on the team was required to compete in each match throughout the season.
2011 has been a very successful season for this group of underdogs, who are led by team captain Sharon McSpadden.
She explained that the team was excited to qualify for their first-ever Sectionals after defeating a rival squad from Atlanta in the Georgia state tournament. They would go on to win again at Sectionals and are now competing this weekend at the USTA League Mixed National Championships.
"It was a little surreal to begin with," team member Mike Richards explained. "We’re at Nationals. This is as far as anyone on the team has ever been. Nobody on the team has been to Nationals before, and going back, nobody on the team had ever been to Sectionals either. This is the biggest tennis accomplishment for everyone on the team."
There were just four weeks between the Southern Sectionals and the Nationals tournament, and the team was faced with a short time span to put together enough money for their cross-country trip to Arizona.
The team held three fund raisers and had incredible support from their community to help fund their trip. These fund raisers included a Spirit Night at a local Chick-Fil-A restaurant, with a percentage of the night’s sales going to the tennis team. A silent auction and raffle was held and they also organized a small round-robin tennis tournament to help raise money. Additionally, they received some donations from some friends in the community.
This Southern squad has become hometown heroes, and hope that they continue their recent run of success by capturing a national title to bring back to their supporters in Georgia.
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