By Sarah Gulbrandsen, special to USTA.com
At the USTA League Mixed 18 & Over 6.0, 8.0, 10.0, National Championships in Tucson, Ariz., the tournament is not going as planned. There are major rain delays, courts are flooded and the sky is covered with gloomy, stormy clouds.
Yet the players, staff and spectators forge ahead. Between 43 USTA league teams, 413 tennis players, seven officials and eight tournament staff employees, everyone is trying their best to make this a wonderful weekend, regardless of the disappointing weather.
“I wouldn’t want to be rained out with anyone else.” said Liz Clarks of the USTA Midwest 8.0 team. “My team is amazing and a really funny group of people.”
Others felt the effects of cabin fever during the Friday washout.
“We’ve been helping roll dry the courts with the tournament staff – we want to play!” said Sherry Briggs of the USTA Pacific Northwest 6.0 team. “We will do anything to play tennis! We’ve met a bunch of people from a lot of sections and they have been nothing but nice.”
With the majority of the tournament staff at the Jim Reffkin Tennis Center attempting to wait out the rare rainstorm and drying courts when possible, players made their own fun at the Doubletree Hotel across the street. Ping-Pong, shuffleboard, poker and various card games were part of the impromptu indoor activities. The USTA staffers who were at the hotel took the time to set up an indoor tennis court in one of the Doubletree’s ballroom-style conference areas, with dozens taking part in hit around with Youth Tennis nets, racquets and foam balls.
“It’s a good set-up, it helps pass the time,” said 8.0 player Kelly Day of USTA New England. “Keeps you loose. I’m optimistic that the sun will come.”
All the sections that showed up seemed to have a fun time and stayed very positive, given the circumstances. Staying sunny will be tougher for Tournament Director Darcy Cobb and her crew as they try to schedule – really, squeeze – three days of play into a day-and-a-half to allow teams to make their flights home on Sunday.
“The players have been fantastic, they are really rising to the occasion this weekend,” said Cobb. “[The players] are being terrific, and I do hope they enjoyed the ballroom tennis. And hopefully we will get some matches in tomorrow. So much work has gone into making this weekend successful and the rain has taken that away.
“The staff is great and has been really pitching in a lot. I’m thankful."