By Melissa Krueger, Special to USTA.com
TUCSON, Ariz. — Four women’s teams and 4 men’s teams are moving on to play in the semifinals at the 2012 USTA League 4.5 Adult National Championships. While some sections dominated their respective flights all weekend, some made it to Sunday by a much closer margin.
Going into their final event of flight play, the women from the New England section controlled their own destiny. If they lost to Missouri Valley, they would find themselves in a three-way tie with the rest of the teams in Flight 3. But win they did, which put them firmly atop their flight with a 3-0 record.
The women from Natick, Mass., have been a team for two years with the goal to make Nationals after they lost the New England Sectionals last year.
"We had a tough sectionals run (last year)," said captain Erin Reeves. "This year we kind of felt better having been through sectionals once. We had never been there, so kind of knowing what it was all about, we had a goal in mind, and it was tunnel vision."
The team has also had some recent luck, as teammate Gail Warden won the 4.5 Senior Nationals last weekend in Indian Wells, Calif. Reeves said the team gained a spark from Warden’s success.
"We were hoping that her good fortune last week was going to carry over," Reeves said of Warden.
Reeves also credited some of the team’s success to the superb singles play of Katie Pasciucco, who is 3-0 in her singles matches.
"She’s playing some of the best tennis I’ve ever seen her play," Reeves said of Pasciucco. "Her confidence is up, and she’s had three great matches."
New England will play the winner of Flight 1, the Southern California women, who were undefeated in their flight, 4-0. The match will begin Sunday morning at 7:30 (PDT).
The women from the Southern California section rarely faltered in their flight play; their toughest matches came while playing Northern California on Saturday. Three out of their five matches went to three-set tiebreakers, but the women from Laguna Hills, Calif., were able to win the event, 4-1.
In the other women's semifinal, the Eastern women from New York City will play the Middle States section from Doylestown, Pa., who also went undefeated in their flight (3-0).
In Eastern's flight, the winner emerged in the final match, a No. 3 doubles match, against the Texas women. Prior to the event, both teams were tied at 2-0 in Flight 2.
The Eastern doubles team of Karen Urban and Laura Gabella held off Dominique Glinzler and Jesselyn Reed of Texas, winning in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3.
On the men’s side, the Mid-Atlantic section was the first to punch its ticket to the semifinals with their 5-0 win over the men from the Northern section.
The men from Roanoke, Va., easily defeated the team from Bloomington, Minn., as all matches were decided in straight sets. (The No. 2 singles match was forfeited by Northern before the start.)
This is the first trip to Nationals for this Mid-Atlantic team, which has been playing together for two years now. Captain Alan Bartley credits the team's success at Nationals to the closeness of the team, a trait that even their competition recognizes.
"One of (an opponent's) comments was that they could tell how close this team was after just playing us," Bartley said. "They could tell everybody was really on the same page together."
He elaborated by saying that the members hang out together off the court as well, and they don't typically compete against each other, saying, "Nobody worries if he's playing or not playing."
Mid-Atlantic teammate Jeff Moyer agrees with Bartley's sentiment.
"I think it's no doubt that every player on this team likes each other," he said. "We enjoy spending time with each other.
"So that makes practices fun, makes camaraderie fun, and I think it makes us gel as a team."
The team, which is 3-0 this weekend, has solidified wins with help from singles player Nick Barker, who is undefeated in his matches. All of his matches have been straight-set victories.
The Mid-Atlantic men will face the men from the Southern California section in the semifinals on Sunday. Like Mid-Atlantic, the Southern California men went 3-0 in their flight, winning all of their matchups with a 3-2 score.
Also going to the semifinals on Sunday are the men from the Texas section, who completed a sweep of Hawaii, 5-0. Singles player Hersh Pise won the final match of the sweep, beating Hawaii's Jeffrey Grimmer, 6-3, 7-6. Pise is unbeaten (3-0) in singles play.
The men from Houston, Texas, will face the men from the Southwest section in the semifinals. The men from Phoenix were dominant in their flight, going undefeated (4-0), though wins didn’t always come easily for them. Nine of their matches went into three-set tiebreakers, and the team was able to win eight of them.
All semifinal matches begin at 7:30 a.m. (PDT) and will be followed by the finals and third-place matches at 10 a.m. (PDT).
4.5 Women’s Standings
Midwest (Cleveland, Ohio) (3-1)
Caribbean (San Juan, P.R.) (1-3)
Hawaii (Maui, Hawaii) (0-4)
Northern California (Sacramento, Calif.) (2-2)
Southern California (Laguna Hills, Calif.) (4-0)
Texas (Houston, Texas) (2-1)
Southwest (El Paso, Texas) (0-3)
Florida (Tampa Bay, Fla.) (1-2)
Eastern (New York City) (3-0)
Missouri Valley (St. Louis, Mo.) (1-2)
New England (Natick, Mass.) (3-0)
Pacific Northwest (Bremerton, Wash.) (0-3)
Southern (Hilton Head, S.C.) (1-2)
Middle States (Doylestown, Pa.) (3-0)
Mid-Atlantic (Montgomery County, Md.) (1-2)
Intermountain (Colorado Spring, Colo.) (1-2)
Northern (St. Louis Park, Minn.) (1-2)
4.5 Men’s Standings
Midwest (Winona Lake, Ind.) (3-1)
New England (Falmouth, Maine) (1-2)
Middle States (Philadelphia) (1-2)
Southwest (Phoenix) (4-0)
Missouri Valley (Kansas City) (0-4)
Mid-Atlantic (Roanoke, Va.) (3-0)
Caribbean (San Juan, P.R.) (0-3)
Northern (Bloomington, Minn.) (1-2)
Intermountain (Salt Lake City) (1-2)
Florida (Orlando, Fla.) (1-2)
Eastern (Bogota, N.J.) (2-1)
Texas (Houston, Texas) (3-0)
Hawaii (Kailua, Hawaii) (0-3)
Pacific Northwest (Mill Creek, Wash.) (1-2)
Northern California (Walnut Creek, Calif.) (0-3)
Southern (Louisville, Ky.) (2-1)
Southern California (Los Angeles) (3-0)