By J. Fred Sidhu, special to USTA.com
Indian Wells, Calif. – In a weekend highlighted by great sportsmanship and friendly competition, the Southern California Section women and the Caribbean Section men were crowned champions at the 2012 USTA League 4.0 Senior National Championships.
On a brilliant, sunny day at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, the Southern California Section women’s team from the nearby Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif. defeated the Southern Section women’s team from Fort Smith, Ark., 2-1.
The men’s Caribbean Section team from San Juan, P.R. scored a thrilling 2-1 decision over the Middle States men’s team from York, Pa.
"It feels great. The players did it really well," said an elated Juan Soto, captain of the champion Caribbean team.
According to Soto, team depth played a critical role in his team’s run to the title after having to win four flight matches just to reach the semifinals.
"We came in with 10 players and I believe that helped us a lot," Soto said. "I was able to put fresh (players) and that was the key for going to the finals."
The men’s Caribbean Section team is captained by Soto and Ramon Figueroa and includes: Elias Diaz, Francisco Alvarez, William Schield, Ary Moll, Edison Rodriguez, Ismael Roque, Ruben Colon, Nelson Diaz and Neftali Irizarry.
If there was a home-court advantage this past weekend, it belonged to the local Southern California women’s team which was supported by a large group of vocal supporters throughout the weekend.
"This experience has been really awesome," said Southern California team member Manuela "Wela" Andrews following the victory. "It’s great to keep it (title) here in the Valley. Everybody is coming and we never keep it here and now we’ve got it here."
The women’s Southern California Section team is captained by Lori Romania and includes: Deborah Nuffer, Manuela Andrews, Karen Bell, Deanna Ruth Abend, Nancy Portolesi, Terry Cornett, Mutsuko Komuro, Carolyn Roberts, Lisa McIntosh and Cheryl Evans.
The Florida Section men’s team from Melbourne, Fla. ended the tournament by capturing 3rd place with a 2-1 victory over Missouri Valley.
The Missouri Valley Section women’s team from St. Louis, Mo. finished in third place as they swept Middle States, 3-0.