USTA League Presented by Chrysler
4.0 Senior National Championships
October 12-14, 2007
Day Three - Sunday, October 14
New Jersey Women Win Title
The women’s team from Cherry Hill, NJ representing the USTA Middle States Section, captured the national title at the USTA League presented by Chrysler 4.0 Senior National Championships held at the Randolph Tennis Center in Tucson, AZ. from Oct 12-14.
The Cherry Hill, NJ team defeated a team from Sacramento, CA, (Score, i.e. 2-1) in the championship match. Earlier in the day, they defeated a team from Flagstaff, AZ 2-1 in the semifinals.
The team members include: Theresa Baxter (Somerdale, NJ), Peggy Sears (Philadelphia), Sue Minoff (Cherry Hills, NJ), Kathy Thurston (Woolwich Township, NJ), Donna Spielberger (Marlton, NJ), Jayne Rhynard (Sewell, NJ).
|Middles States Women© Adam Davis|
Sacramento Women Take 2nd
The women’s team from Sacramento, CA. representing the USTA Northern California Section finished second at the USTA League presented by Chrysler 4.0 Senior National Championships held at the Randolph Tennis Center in Tucson, AZ. from Oct 12-14.
The Sacramento, CA team lost to a team from Cherry Hill, NJ (Score, i.e. 2-1) in the championship match. Earlier in the day, they defeated a team from Albany, NY 2-1 in the semifinals.
The NorCal team include: Patsy McIntosh, Sheron Landis, Susan Mcgill, Judith Newton, Penelope Cooke, Christina Modin, Christina George, and Janice Cowden. (players listed from left to right in photo)
|Northern Cal Women© Adam Davis|
Flagstaff Women place 3rd
The women’s team from Flagstaff, AZ representing the USTA Southwest Section finished third at the USTA League presented by Chrysler 4.0 Senior National Championships held at the Randolph Tennis Center in Tucson, AZ. from Oct 12-14.
The Flagstaff, AZ team defeated to the team from Albany, NY (Score, i.e. 3-0) in the third place match. Earlier in the day, they were defeated by a team from Cherry Hill, NJ 2-1 in the semifinals.
The team mebers include: Chrys Smiley (Las Vegas), Bev Custer (Flagstaff), Jana Perpich (Flagstaff), Lisa Majure (Flagstaff), Maggie Seidel (Sedona), Pam Casper (Sedona).
|Southwest Women© Adam Davis|
Albany Women place 4th
The women’s team from Albany, NY representing the USTA Eastern Section, finished fourth at the USTA League presented by Chrysler 4.0 Senior National Championships held at the Randolph Tennis Center in Tucson, AZ. from Oct 12-14.
The Albany, NY team defeated to the team from Flagstaff, AZ (Score, i.e. 3-0) in the third place match. Earlier in the day, they were defeated by a team from Sacramento, CA 2-1 in the semifinals.
The Eastern women’s square includes: Sue Ronsvale (Clifton Park), Linda Hosmer (Stillwater), Betty Bellinger (Gansevoort), Linda Carr (Moriah), Peggy Keigley (Greenfield Ctr) and Olga Felland (Clifton Park). (players listed from left to right in attached photo)
|Eastern Women© Adam Davis|
Kansas City Men's Team Captures Title
The men’s team from Kansas City representing the USTA Missouri Valley Section captured the national title at the USTA League presented by Chrysler 4.0 Senior National Championships held at the Randolph Tennis Center in Tucson, AZ. from Oct 12-14.
The Kansas City team defeated a team from Birmingham, AL, 3-0 in the championship match. Earlier in the day, they defeated a team from Seattle 3-0 in the semifinals.
The Missouri Valley men’s team member include: Chris Cox (Olathe, KS), Eric Engstrom (Lone Jack, MO), Greg Russell (Overland Park), Wayne McKamie (Leawood, MO)., Steven Hannett (Lees Summit, MO), Stuart Phillips (KC), John Tidrick (Overland Park, KS), John Cope (Shawnee Mission). (players listed from left to right in attached photo)
|Missouri Valley Men's Team© Adam Davis|
Birmingham Men's team finishes 2nd
The men’s team from Birmingham, AL representing the USTA Southern Section finished second at the USTA League presented by Chrysler 4.0 Senior National Championships held at the Randolph Tennis Center in Tucson, AZ. from Oct 12-14.
The Birmingham team lost to the team from Kansas City 3-0 in the championship match. Earlier in the day, they defeated a team from Virginia Beach in the semifinals.
The Birmingham team members include: Tim Hunter, Bob Greene, Dave Roberts, Austin Snow, Bill Eddings, Steve Erickson, Doug Unkenholz, Gathel Martin and Thomas Gunter. (players listed from left to right in photo)
|Southern Men© Adam Davis|
Seattle Men's squad places 3rd
The men’s team from Seattle representing the USTA Pacific NW Section, finished third at the USTA League presented by Chrysler 4.0 Senior National Championships held at the Randolph Tennis Center in Tucson, AZ. from Oct 12-14.
The Seattle team defeated to the team from Virginia Beach, 2-1in the third place match. Earlier in the day, they were defeated by a team from Kansas City 3-0 in the semifinals.
The team members include: Al Boling (Fircrest), Rick Schroll (Kent), Randy Litch (Tacoma), John Shelton (Lakewood), Kurt Bethman, Puyallup), John Dimant (Gig Harbor). (players listed from left to right in photo)
|Pacific Northwest Men© Adam Davis|
Virginia Beach Men's team finishes 4th
The men’s team from Virginia Beach, VA. representing the USTA Mid-Atlantic Section, finished fourth at the USTA League presented by Chrysler 4.0 Senior National Championships held at the Randolph Tennis Center in Tucson, AZ. from Oct 12-14.
The Virginia Beach lost to the team from Seattle, 2-1 in the third place match. Earlier in the day, they were defeated by a team from Birmingham, AL 2-1 in the semifinals.
The VA. Beach team members include: Richard Stevens (Chesapeake), Grey Folkes (Chesapeake), Mike Sullivan (Chesapeake), Doug Atkins (VA Beach), Roy Loehr (Chesapeake), Robert Goode (VA Beach), Dave Cullen (VA Beach), Marcus Crawford (Newport News), Robin Yost (Suffolk) (players listed from left to right in photo)
|Mid Atlantic Men© Adam Davis|
Day Two - Saturday, October 13
After two days of play, the stage is set for the Finals of the National Championships. For a look at the day's winners, click here.
|Brenda Dessauer© Adam Davis|
Hurricane Katrina's Effort to Destroy Courts, Spirit Falls Short
When Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city of New Orleans and much of the southeastern coast, most of the world’s television cameras focused their lenses on the NFL’s Saints as the symbolic image of the city coming together through athletics.
Quietly, another sport was bringing old friends and a community together.
Longtime friends and tennis players Peggy Minor, Cindy Koenig and Brenda Dessauer watched as their homes and homes of friends were damaged or destroyed on Aug. 29.
It would be weeks before any sense of normalcy returned to the women’s lives.
Normalcy began on the day they showed up at their tennis club, Beach Club in Metairie, a New Orleans suburb.
"The courts were in rough shape, but we just decided to try to clean them up and repair them," said Minor, who captains the New Orleans team that advanced to the USTA League presented by Chrysler Women’s 4.0 National Championships. "We started by just picking up the trash by hand, and eventually we started clearing trees and there was a group of four men who showed up every day and did something. One day it was putting up a screen, one day they were getting fences back up. Then they played tennis."
The USTA chipped into the rebuilding effort with a grant that helped to fund the complete resurfacing of the club’s hardcourts.
"Really, the only thing we could do every day that was normal was to play tennis," Koenig said. "Nothing was open and after we got done cleaning up our house or getting something ready to be repaired, we’d go to the tennis courts."
While the trio was careful not to call tennis "therapy" because of the seriousness of the situation around them, all three acknowledged that the sport helped keep them busy and their minds clear of the rebuilding effort.
When the competition of the Nationals quiets and the camaraderie begins, the women get a predictable reaction from their peers from across the United States when it’s learned that they are from New Orleans.
"Everybody always wants to know how the city is doing, and most people immediately feel bad," said Dessauer, who after playing tennis against Minor when both were grammar school students, is enjoying being on the same side of the net with a championship at stake. "Things certainly aren’t back to the way they were, but we try to tell people that most of what they see that’s negative is a small sampling. The new television show ‘K-Ville’ is a perfect example of what it really isn’t like. The people are strong and doing their best."
The team from New Orleans takes nothing for granted off the court, an obvious sentiment from a group that witnessed first-hand the effects of the nation’s deadliest natural disaster.
On the court, however, it’s very much a roll-with-the-punches attitude.
"When we went to the sectionals in Mobile [Ala.], we really didn’t expect to win," Koenig said. "We spent most of the time relaxing and having a good time at the beach house we rented. That attitude is probably the key to our success. We’ve seen pressure before, and tennis isn’t pressure at all."
Betty Sue … Meet Betty Sue
|Betty and Sue meet Sue and Betty© Adam Davis|
When the New England women’s #2 doubles team Betty Munroe and Sue Brakeley took the court on Saturday at the USTA League Presented by Chrysler Women’s Senior 4.0 National Championships at Randolph Tennis Center in Tucson, staring across the net from them were Betty Bellinger and Sue Ronsvale from the Eastern Section. In a match that was just as close as the two team’s names, the New England Betty Sue’s won 6-3, 6-7, 1-0.
|Linda and Betty - Team Eastern, Sue B and Sue R - Team N.E.© Adam Davis|
The two teams had more in common than just their names. Two of the Eastern players were married in 2004 (Linda & Michael Carr and Betty & Karl Ballinger) while New England’s Sue Brakeley was also wed in 2004. Sue Ronsvalle, married in 2002 also considered herself a newlywed.
These Ladies "Stick" Together
When team captain Dorinda Mohney found out the date of the USTA League Presented by Chrysler Women’s Senior 4.0 National Championships in April, she was so confident her team from the Pharr Tennis Center in Austin, Tex. would qualify, she told everyone to put it on their calendars.
Despite her confidence, two key team members, including #1 doubles player Susan Sorensen and #3 doubles team member Lucile Puett booked trips to Europe that conflicted with the Oct. 12-14 tourney in Tucson.
"Unfortunately they both forgot to check their schedules before booking the trips," explained Mohney. "We even tried to convince them to move it back a few days or route their travel through Tucson. Unfortunately they were unable to make the changes."
Puett, a member of the squad when it finished 4th at the Nationals in 2005 felt so bad, she even chipped in for the trip and agreed not to play in the Sectionals so the other players could work together. Since Sorensen was the top player on the team, she agreed to play at the Sectionals to help get her teammates to Tucson.
Once they qualified for the Nationals, Mohney knew she wanted her missing teammates to be a part of the weekend, so they took a photo of the ladies, enlarged the faces to 11"x14" and posted them each on a stick.
|Texas Women© Adam Davis|
"Susan and Lucile have joined us at dinner, sat in the bleachers and were even able to be part of our team photo," explained Mohney. "It’s been great having them here in spirit and has really added some fun to the trip. They gave us a laugh one night. We left them in the car and when the lights went on we nearly jumped out of our skin as their smiling faces were staring at us from the car."
Unfortunately, the undermanned squad which, has not had as much fun on the court, losing their first three matches, thus assuring them a trip home early on Sunday.
Although they have not spoken to their missing teammates, they know the two ladies are checking USTA.com from overseas to follow the results.
"We didn’t tell them about the photos, so this story on USTA.com will be the first they’ve heard of it. We hope it brings a smile to their faces."
Competitive Juices Still Flowing At Senior 4.0 Championships
The Southern men’s 4.0 senior championship tennis team is full of longtime fine competitive athletes.
Like 99.9 percent of Americans, none made it to the professional ranks, but that doesn’t mean the chance to compete on a huge stage disappeared.
That window opened up once again when, after seven years, the group from Birmingham, Ala. captured the sectional title and advanced to the USTA League presented by Chrysler Men’s Senior 4.0 Championships.
"These guys are all former athletes who have been competing their entire lives, from Pop Warner football to Little League baseball all the way up," Southern captain Austin Snow said. "Every match is competitive. We’re having a blast out here, but once the match starts, that competitive fire gets going and all the teams are here to win."
The Southern team, which plays out of Lake Cyrus Swim and Tennis Club, is no different than any other championship-level team built over time.
It took a few years to find the right blend of characters to embrace the team concept and work together toward a common goal.
Put the emphasis on the word "characters."
|.© Adam Davis|
The Birmingham bunch comes complete with nicknames and makes the claim to be the only team with a roster full of certified monikers.
Snow is known as A-Rod, and other names heard during the Southern matches include Bansai, Kill Bill, Taz, Tomahawk, T-Bone, Franchise, Eminem and MVP. Even the team’s official cheerleader is knows as "Hotzilla."
"The nickname thing is part of that competitive spirit," Snow said. "We get on each other a lot, either in a joking way or to make sure we’re ready to get out there and win."
Part of competition on any level is the distinction between athletes who thrive under pressure and athletes who crumble beneath it. Playing for a national championship in tennis is no exception.
"The level of competition here is tremendous," Southern’s Bob Greene said. "The strange part of it is, I don’t think it brings out the best tennis in most people. There’s so much at stake that you’re battling your opponents and pressure. I’ve seen some fantastic players miss easy volleys, shots you know they make easily at any other time. But that pressure is what brings us back every year. It’s great."
The Southern team is comprised of men who have indelible marks in various business ventures during their careers, but still nothing compares to the thrill of competing in an athletic arena.
"As an athlete growing up, you kind of have it in your mind that eventually being able to really compete is going to end," Southern’s Doug Unkenholz said. "We’ve all gone off into the business world and there’s a definite level of competition there, but to have this chance is something that I don’t think I’ll ever again have in my lifetime. To go through the local tournaments, and the sectionals and finally reach the nationals with a group of guys who have really blended together is great. When you get to the nationals, you’re here to have a good time, but nobody would be here if they weren’t very competitive and focused on winning."
Day One - Friday, October 12
The results are in for day one of the 2007 USTA League presented by Chrysler 4.0 Senior National Championships at the Randolph Tennis Center in Tucson, Ariz.
Play began today, bright and early, at 7:30 a.m. with sunny skies and highs reaching up into the low 90’s. The warm temperature made for ideal playing conditions for all of today’s competitors.
On the women’s side, the Southern Cal team is in first place in Flight 1. In Flight 2, the Southern women are leading the pack. The Middle States women are ahead in Flight 3 and the Eastern women are the leaders of Flight 4.
For the men, the Mid- Atlantic team is on top of the standing in Flight 5. The Missouri Valley men are a perfect 6-0 overall and in the lead in Flight 6. In Flights 7 and 8, the Northern and Midwest teams are ahead, respectively.
One of the highlights of the day was in this morning’s action on court 24. Jack McNaughton and Bill Wahlstrom from the men’s Midwest team battled Mike Brisbon and Mark Hayes of the Middle States.
The match came down to the match tiebreaker set and the Midwest team was able to pull off the victory. Their victory was their second individual win, thus giving them the team victory.
"We didn’t play our best in the first set so we really wanted to come out and give a better effort," said Bill Wahlstrom. "Our two-some tends to lead our team so we knew we had to come out and win those last two sets."
With the win, the Midwest team was able to jump to the top of the standing in Flight 8.
The 4.0 Senior National Championships will run through this weekend with the Finals being held on Sunday at the Randolph Tennis Center.
|Jeff McNaughton and Bill Wahlstrom© Adam Davis|
Teammate Offers Life Saving Tip
The senior women’s 4.0 "Parque Central" team from San Juan, Puerto Rico likes to tell people that they are made up of seven "warriors." But ask any of them who is the most courageous and they’ll all agree it’s Carmen Espada.
On April 13, just one week before this undefeated team was scheduled to compete in the Sectionals, Carmen discovered she had colon cancer. She not only had her doctors to thank for the early diagnosis, but also her doubles partner Cloirnda Duarte.
|Carmen Espada© Adam Davis|
"I just had my regular check-up and when I heard that Carmen was not feeling well and she told me her symptoms, I immediately made her an appointment," said Duarte. "At our age it is important to get regular check-ups."
"We were all confused and depressed, but not Carmen," said team Captain Irma Nevarez. "Carmen assured us that she would be fine and that there was no way this would stop her from competing at the Sectionals."
With the approval of her doctor, Carmen and Clorinda took the court at the Sectionals and won 6-2, 6-3. The match gave their team a 2-1 victory and a trip to the Nationals.
A week later, Carmen underwent surgery and then began a grueling schedule of chemotherapy treatments. Although she was fatigued, the thought of getting back on the tennis court gave her the motivation she needed.
"This is my vacation in between chemotherapy treatments," explains Carmen who has complete two of the six treatment cycles. "Playing tennis is therapy for me."
Once Carmen was able to get back on the court, the team moved back their practice schedule to 5:30 p.m. to keep Carmen out of the hot San Juan sun. Even though she was unable to play the 3-4 times a week like she had before the procedure, Carmen was able to build back her strength in preparation for the Nationals.
"I truly believe that God has given Carmen and our team a second chance and having to overcome this hardship has made our team stronger and more determined to compete and win," explains Nevarez.
On Friday, Parque Central lost both of their matches – 2-1 to the Missouri Valley and 2-1 to the Midwest. Both Parque Central points were picked up by Carmen and Clorinda as they scored 6-4, 6-1 and 7-6, 6-2 victories.
|Steve Jerlow© Adam Davis|
Vietnam Vet Overcomes War Injuries To Inspire Teammates
In his decades of coaching tennis, St. Paul, Minn., native Steve Jerlow has maintained that there are just two things a player can control: Attitude and effort.
That philosophy doesn’t apply just to the youngsters Jerlow instructs. He need look no further than immediately to his left to see the very definition of attitude and effort and its subsequent rewards.
Jerlow’s doubles partner, Don Smith, would not be playing with his St. Paul teammates in the USTA National 4.0 Men’s Championships at Randolph Park Tennis Center had it not been for his hold-nothing-back effort and refuse-to-quit attitude.
"Don has been a real inspiration to all of us on the team and there’s not a match we play when we don’t think about what he’s gone through to be here with us," Jerlow said.
Smith, who retired last week after working for 33 years as an assessor for Dakota (Minn.) County, served with the United States Army in Vietnam. He was wounded in battle and the injuries linger to this day.
Two years ago, when Smith’s buddies boarded a plane to California to play in the 2005 Nationals, Smith boarded a hospital gurney and was rushed into surgery.
"I was wounded pretty severely in Vietnam," recalled Smith, 58, who will spend the next couple of weeks celebrating his wedding anniversary with a trip to Sedona and the Grand Canyon. "I had to have veins moved from my leg to my arm. Over the years, the veins just deteriorated and last year, they rushed me into the hospital to have the original surgery redone."
While tennis took a backseat to the concern for their friend and teammate, Jerlow and the rest of the St. Paul crew played on.
"It was tough for us to be [in California] and try to have a good time knowing that Don was in surgery," Jerlow recalled. "I just remember telling [Smith] that we’d win again next year and give him another chance to play in the Nationals when he was healthy."
The team did just that, romping through the Northern sectional tournament to earn another invite to the 2006 Nationals.
Now healthy, Smith joined his team in California, but once again bad luck and his war injuries combined to rob him of the opportunity to fully participate.
"Don came up to me last year on the first day of the tournament and said, ‘You won’t believe this. I don’t think I can play.’ He was right, I couldn’t believe it," Jerlow said.
Smith had a recurrence of iritis, a disease that causes visual impairment due to inflammation of the iris, likely brought on by his time in Vietnam.
"Don is one of the toughest guys I know, so eventually he felt good enough to play a match on the third day of the tournament and he won," Jerlow recalled. "It’s very nice to have him here and healthy."
His teammates look at Smith as an inspiration, but Smith sees things more simply and humbly.
"This is a great group of guys," said Smith, who first picked up a racquet at age 24. "They’ve been really supportive of me, and I’m really just looking forward to having a great time here playing tennis, win or lose."