By Nicholas J. Walz, USTA.com
The first USTA League national champions were crowned in sunny Tucson for the Adult 18 & Over 3.0 men’s and women’s divisions, as the USTA Caribbean section dominated play in both championship flights to earn two coveted titles.
The men, under the guidance of team captain Hector Baez-Ramos, stormed through USTA New England and USTA Hawaii on the final day, winning all 10 individual matches. Meantime, Adrian Hernandez’s women handled Tucson’s own Southwest team, 4-1, and held on to beat the Seattle-based Pacific Northwest team, 3-2, to complete the sweep for the San Juan squads.
It was a tremendous start for USTA Caribbean and the island of Puerto Rico, the small powerhouse over 3,000 miles due east that annually delivers top-flight teams to USTA League Nationals. In 2012, the team from Dorado, P.R., won the men’s 3.0 national title while the women of Guaynabo, P.R. came within one victory of reaching last year’s 3.0 semifinals.
“Emotional – this is all very emotional,” said Baez-Ramos on what the day meant for his section. “They worked so hard over the past months. We will all be very energetic flying home.”
Sunday’s action capped off an exciting weekend at the Jim Reffkin Tennis Center, with all 17 USTA sections accounted for in the 34 teams that played.
“What a way to kick off our championship season,” said David Schobel, Director, USTA Competitive Tennis. “To get every section here to Tucson and to see our teams not only play a very competitive tournament, but show fine sportsmanship and make new friends, that’s a win.”