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3.5 Senior - Latest News and Photos

by: Grant Chambers

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Sunday, October 23
The results are in! Congratulations to the following teams for their determination, perseverance and great championship play.

Men's Final
Northern California - Sacramento, Calif. d. Midwest - Chicago, Illinois 2-1
Men's 3rd/4th Playoff
Texas - Laredo, Tex. d. Southern, Charlotte, NC 2-1

Women's Final
Northern California - Walnut Creek, Calif. d. Hawaii - Oahu, HI 2-1
Women's 3rd/4th Playoff

Midwest - Springfield, Illinois d. Texas - San Antonio, Tex. 3-0

1st Place - 3.5 Senior Men - Northern California
(left to right) Michael Decker, Vaughn Shell (Captain), Tony Espinosa, Roger Deleon, Jack Ostrode, Lyle Griffith, George Calderon

1st Place - 3.5 Senior Women - Northern California
Front row (left to right) Gayle Ferry, Sandi Lemings, Rita Gonsalves, Joyce Pournaras (Captain), Ardene Fullerton, Pamela Howard
Back row (left to right) Leslie Wilson, Carla Tinonga, Christine Seely

2nd Place - 3.5 Senior Men - Midwest
(left to right) Gregory Gargan, Robert Hughes, Dick McDonald, Michael Katzenbach, Arnold Villagomez, William Wagner

2nd Place - 3.5 Senior Women - Hawaii
Front row (left to right) Sharan Power, Cynthia Jordan, Laurel Shim, Patricia Stevens (Captain), Sharon Au, Nancy Arnott, Linda Hamilton
Back row (left to right) Connie Zepeda (Coach), Libby Tomar, Nancy Rubin

3rd Place - 3.5 Senior Men - Texas
(left to right) Gustavo Fuentes, Bernhard Gubser, Candelario Escamilla, Robert Cavazos (Captain), Alfredo Trevino, Arturo Gutierrez

3rd Place - 3.5 Senior Women - Midwest
Front row (left to right) Sarita Varma, Christine Egan, Charlene Banner, Betty Vandekerckhove
Back row (left to right) Susan Lazarides, Mary Staudt, Rhona Hallberg, June Greer, Carol Shull, Kay Morris (Captain)

4th Place - 3.5 Senior Men - Southern
(left to right) Wendell Laney, Cary Campbell, Peter Kornicki, Kenji Krzywosz (Captain), Charles Hearn, Scott Jones, Henry Trufan

4th Place - 3.5 Senior Women - Texas
(left to right) Susan Oswald, Beth Barnes, Sandra Hogeboom, Priscilla Allen (Captain), Lois Crow, Laurie Stevenson, L.Y. Moy

Saturday Night Fever!
If you've ever been to a league sectional or national event, you know what Saturday night means.....Party! Players, friends, family and supporters gathered last night at the DoubleTree Ballroom for the 3.5 Senior USA League Tennis National Championships party! A good time was had by all. A special thank you to HEAD/Penn Racket Sports for providing a ton of prizes (bags, fleece blankets, hats....) for the party! They have been a sponsor of USA League Tennis for 18 years.


Saturday, October 22
Day two of the 2005 3.5 Senior USA League Tennis National Championships is underway! After an incredible Friday of great championship play, sportsmanship and impeccable weather, the cream is rising to the top. The screams, cheers and tears are really coming out as teams compete for an elusive spot in tomorrow's Championship Sunday. After today, only four men's and four women's teams will remain.

Rita Gray (right) with her mother Ursula Gray (center) and sister Monika Ammon (left)
A Sweet Homecoming!
Rita Gray, team member of the 3.5 senior women's team representing the USTA Southern Section, has seen Tucson before. In fact, she's probably played on every court in this city, at one time or another. Rita grew up in Tucson, and was the #1 tennis player at Santa Rita High School for all four years. After high school, Rita moved to Corpus Christi, Texas working as a food and beverage manager for a hotel, and has since lived in San Antonio, Tex., Houston, Tex., Austin, Tex. and now lives in Mertle Beach, South Carolina and works as a real estate agent.

"It's so exciting to be back home," stated Rita. She went on to say, "This is a great homecoming, the people in Tucson are always so friendly."

Rita has won 2 out of her 3 matches played this weekend at Randolph Tennis Center. Her team is 2-1 overall, and is still in the hunt for a spot in Championship Sunday's semi-final round.
Rita Gray get's ready and strikes a ball during her teams 3rd round action

Been There, Done That...
If the sandy haired player in the men's 3.5 National Championships looks like he knows his way around a USA League Tennis tournament, it's because he does. Bert Lerch, captain of the USTA Pacific Northwest 3.5 Senior men's team from Seattle, Wash., has brought 4 teams to nationals since 1998 and has captained teams from Harbor Square Athletic Club, near Seattle, to Sectionals 14 times, "plus, who knows how many regionals."

His team says they've elected Lerch, who has coached soccer teams and run a ski school, "captain for life." Most of the team has been together for more than 20 years. Lerch stated, "New guys who come in see a certain harmony on this team, 'he says.' Winning is fine, but if you lose and you're not buddies, it's a disaster for everybody."

The Pacific Northwest team is 0-3 this weekend, but are still having a great time!

A special thank you to Sally Macdonald for providing the information for this article!

Pacific Northwest 3.5 Senior men's team from Seattle, Washington with captain Ben Lerch in the grass© Cynthia Lum Photography

Team Caravaggios - Tennis and the Art of Friendship
P.S. You don't want to make a false call against them....

Middle States 3.5 Senior women's team members with team gifts© Cynthia Lum Photography
They may not be in first, second, or even third place after 3 rounds of tennis this weekend, but the 3.5 women's team from Allentown, Pennsylvania, representing the USTA Middle States Section is all smiles. Even spending a brief 5-10 minutes with the team, you quickly figure out that they're a fun and loving group of women that love everything about tennis and life. "We've worked so hard to get here. This is gravy. We all get along so well and this is a great adventure!!," stated team captain Christine Beck.

As a well-known, customary gesture here at the National Championships, many teams bring gifts for each of their opponents. The gifts are a sign of friendship and usually include culture specific items from "back home". Team Caravaggios had a bag filled with over 15 items that they gave to each player on each team they competed against! The bag included products from many local famous companies including Mack Trucks, Crayola, Martin Guitars and more. But one item in the bag wasn't so local. A postcard printout of an old world painting, done by Michelangelo Merisi, was included to represent origins of their team name.

Team Caravaggios has a great story behind their team name. Last year, as they were considering a name for their team, one of the team members was doing research for a non-related art project. In the course of her search, she came upon the name Caravaggio. He was an Italian baroque painter whose full name was Michelangelo Merisi, but he was referred to by the name of his native village - Caravaggio. Born in 1571, he was known for his dark, provocative style of painting and was a noted controversial figure. But his legacy became even more controversial in 1606 - and therein lies his tennis claim to fame. In that year, he was engaged in a very competitive game of lawn tennis when he suspected his opponent was cheating. Following a dispute over a point, a fight erupted and Caravaggio pulled his dagger on the opponent, stabbing and killing him!

This team doesn't carry any daggers in their tennis bags. And if there were a team sportsmanship award being given out this weekend, they'd certainly be in the running. Thanks for your spirit and good sportsmanship ladies!
Middle States 3.5 Senior women's team with coach Bob Weiss in the middle!© Cynthia Lum Photography

New England men's team member Dennis Choquette (left) and team captain Alan Dyl (right)
New England Men Team Members Back for 2nd Year in a Row

Alan Dyl, captain of the New England 3.5 Senior men's team and tem member Dennis Choquette ares familiar with this event. Just one year ago, they were a part of the New England men's team competing in last year's 3.5 Senior USA League Tennis National Championships. After a team competes at Nationals, they have two options: 1) they can keep the same team together, but move up to the next level of competition, or 2) they must split the team up and form new, separate teams in order to remain competing at the same level. After last year's event, their team split up and formed two separate teams. Alan and Dennis never dreamed that they would be back at the National Championships so soon! "We had a tough road to get here. We had to win a lot of close matches at our sectional championships while temperatures were in the 100's," stated Alan.

Both men are tennis fanatics, and great believers in the benefits of the sport. "Tennis is a great work out in a short amount of time. I played golf in college, but when you have a family, it just takes too much family time away," stated Alan, who has been a USTA team captain for 15 years, is a USTA Volunteer and is a School Psychologist back in New England. Dennis, an Operations Administrator for the U.S. Navy, went on to say, "You can play tennis into your 70's and 80's. It keeps you looking young and helps you remain active and around people."

Cute hat!
Diane Mackenzie, captain of the 3.5 senior women's team from Portland, Oregon© Cynthia Lum Photography

Diane Mackenzie, captain of the women's 3.5 Senior team from Portland, Oregon, likes to travel, ride her bicycle, is a Grandmother of 7 and is a volunteer at a local medical hospital. Going into round 3, her team was undefeated (2-0), looking for a spot in Championship Sunday's final four. The team plays at the Multnomah Athletic Club, a local athletic and social club with over 20,000 members. Diane is a retired social director for the club. The team has five male supporters that made the trip to Tucson for this weekend's event. "It's great to have the support of a club behind you. We've been trying to make it here to Nationals for years," stated Diane.


Friday, October 21
The 2005 3.5 Senior USA League Tennis National Championships is underway in sunny Tucson, Arizona! We couldn't have asked for more perfect weather conditions as temperatures are in the mid-80's, with a pleasant and dry breeze.

Torrential Rain, Earthquakes, Hundreds of Road Miles and Two National Championship Events....all in the last 5 days!
Six members of the 3.5 Senior women's team from Tucson, Arizona, representing the USTA Southwest Section, have had a whirlwind of a tennis week! Team members Linda Lemme (captain), Jeanne Holm, Dalice Bromfeld, Kelly Roellig, Dale Francis and Sharon Emley are also members of the 7.0 Super Senior Women's team from Tucson that competed at the National Championships in Palm Springs, California, held earlier this week on October 17 - 20. The event was supposed to be completed on the 19th, but due to two days of rain and earthquakes, had to extend through the 20th. The ladies were very successful and made it all the way to the semi-final round! So what did they do to celebrate their great standing? Well they hopped right in the car and headed back to Tucson for this weekends National Championships!

With no official team name, these women have dubbed themselves "The Hot Mommas" for this weekend's event. The group stated, "We feel good about this weekend. We feel tournament tough and would like to have success here as well."

Good luck ladies!

3.5 Senior Southwest Women's team finds the energy!

Pink Power!

Pink Power is shown here in the skirt and bracelets of this Midwest Women's team member© Cynthia Lum Photography
This year's 3.5 Senior women's team from Springfield, Illinois, representing the USTA Midwest Section, are all about the Pink Power! From their shoes, to their shirts, hats, wristbands and more, you'll find the color pink, all in support of breast cancer awareness and research. Many members of this team have had friends or family members who have been affected by breast cancer. Last year, they played against a team, at the local level, who had a team member suffering from the disease. She was going through chemotherapy, but still playing tennis. From that day on, the team has rallied around their cause. For every pink item they buy, the make sure a portion of the proceeds go to breast cancer research. Team member June Greer stated, "We're confident that they will find a cure. They're really close." The month of October is breast cancer awareness month. For more information, please visit http://www.nbcam.org/ .

Going into their second round, the Midwest women were 1-0. Keep chargin ahead ladies!

Midwest Men Look'in Good....and Winning Also!
This year's men's team representing the USTA Midwest Section is from the windy city of Chicago, Illinois. They play at the River Trails Tennis Club in Arlington Heights, Illinois. After day one, the team has only dropped one individual match for an overall record of 5-1 and a team record of 2-0! Team Captain Warren Erland stated, "We're very fortunate and happy to make it this far. We're soaking up the sun and tennis before going back to the cold!" Show here, the team is decked out in colorful, Haloween-esk University of Illinois t-shirts. Team member Mike Katzenback has a son who attends the university, and was able to get these shirts for the team.
Midwest men's team from Chicago, Illinois kicks it up a notch for their team photo© Cynthia Lum Photography

Northern Women Happy to be Here!
The Northern women's 3.5 team from Minneapolis, Minnesota is jumping happy to be taking in the soothing desert warmth from sunny Tucson, Arizona! Add in that they're here competiting at the 2005 3.5 Senior USA League Tennis National Championships and result is seen below...

The Northern 3.5 Senior women's team takes a little jump!© Cynthia Lum Photography

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