USTA League Presented by Chrysler
4.0 Adult National Championships
October 26 - 28, 2007
Day Three - Sunday, October 28
Intermountain Women Win 4.0 National Championship
The women’s team from Bozeman, Mont., representing the USTA Intermountain section, captured the national title at the USTA League presented by Chrysler 4.0 Adult National Championships held at the Randolph Tennis Center in Tucson, Arizona.
The Bozeman team defeated a team from Carmel, Ind., (3-2) in the Championship match. Earlier in the day, the Bozeman team defeated a team from Baltimore, MD, (3-2) in the semifinals. They advanced this far by winning their round-flight contested Friday and Saturday.
The team is captained by Julie Caddel and featured: Sunny Cook, Jennie Holton, Heather Armstrong, Debbie Applebaum, Kris Hansen, Vladimira McCalley, Stephanie Edwards, Patti Oakes, M’lee Davis and Jacquie Persons.
|.© Cynthia Lum|
Midwest Women Place Second
The women’s team from Carmel, Ind., representing the USTA Midwest section, finished second at the USTA League presented by Chrysler 4.0 Adult National Championships held at the Randolph Tennis Center in Tucson, Arizona.
The Carmel team lost to a team from Bozeman, Mont., (3-2) in the Championship match. Earlier in the day, the Carmel team defeated a team from Kansas City, MO, (3-2) in the semifinals. They advanced this far by winning their round-flight contested Friday and Saturday.
The team is captained by Linda Goad and featured: Amy Moore, Sue Hammel, Amy Cooke, Lisa Waddell, Diane Power, Renee Noe, Becky Ragsdale, Kelley Manning, Cathy Hudson, Jackie Laikin and Debbie Monn.
|.© Cynthia Lum|
Missouri Valley Women Take Third
The women’s team from Kansas City, MO, representing the USTA Mid-Atlantic section, finished third at the USTA League presented by Chrysler 4.0 Adult National Championships held at the Randolph Tennis Center in Tucson, Arizona.
The Kansas City team defeated a team from Baltimore, MD, (3-2) in the Third Place match. Earlier in the day, the Kansas City team lost to a team from Carmel, Ind., (3-2) in the semifinals. They advanced this far by winning their round-flight contested Friday and Saturday.
The team is captained by Amie Schick and featured: Jodi Hanish, Melanie Perry, Shelly Eisenreich, Cheryl Vaught, Jane Waterstradt, Renetta Ramsdell, Susan Fleming, Lori Kodanaz, Paige Salveter, Laurie Novion, Jane King, Karen Mollus and Laura Fenton.
|.© Cynthia Lum|
Mid Atlantic Women Finish Fourth
The women’s team from Baltimore, MD representing the USTA Mid-Atlantic section, finished fourth at the USTA League presented by Chrysler 4.0 Adult National Championships held at the Randolph Tennis Center in Tucson, Arizona.
The Baltimore team lost to a team from Kansas City, MO, (3-2) in the Third Place match. Earlier in the day, the Baltimore team lost to a team from Bozeman, Mont. (3-2) in the semifinals. They advanced this far by winning their round-flight contested Friday and Saturday.
The team is captained by Elyse Jacob and featured: Cari Kraemer, Janet Herbert, Sheryl Stephenson, Colleen McMillian, Marcella Miller, Rebecca Sirody, Karen Paterakis, Stacey Fried, Simone Cohen, Stephanie Mills Pam Gillin, Barbara Grochal, Dudley Mason and Kristen Mahoney.
|Mid Atlantic Women© Cynthia Lum|
Northern California Men win 4.0 Adult National Championships
The men’s team from Redding, CA, representing the USTA Northern California section, captured the national title at the USTA League presented by Chrysler 4.0 Adult National Championships held at the Randolph Tennis Center in Tucson, Arizona.
The Redding team defeated a team from Gig Harbor, WA, (3-2) in the Championship match. Earlier in the day, the Redding team defeated a team from Winchester, MA, (4-1) in the semifinals. They advanced this far by winning their round-flight contested Friday and Saturday.
The team is captained by: Mark Cichy and featured: Mark Palacio, Todd Campbell, Rob Perry, Ed Molthop, Kurt Champe, Brian Shaw, Brian Reber and Russell Smith.
|Northern Cal Men© Cynthia Lum|
Pacific Northwest Men Finish Second
The men’s team from Gig Harbor, WA, representing the USTA Pacific Northwest section, finished second at the USTA League presented by Chrysler 4.0 Adult National Championships held at the Randolph Tennis Center in Tucson, Arizona.
The Gig Harbor team lost to a team from Redding, CA, (3-2) in the Championship match. Earlier in the day, the Gig Harbor team defeated a team from Winchester, MA, (4-1) in the semifinals. They advanced this far by winning their round-flight contested Friday and Saturday.
The team is captained by Joel Peyton and featured: Paul Ancich, Mark Berry, Adam Blakney, Justin Brown, Regan Crema, Chusak Saetee, Craig Schmid, John Smoots, Brent Smoots and Kevin Kromholtz.
|Pacific Northwest Men© Cynthia Lum|
Third Place Finish for Mid Atlantic Men
The men’s team from Columbia, MD representing the USTA Mid-Atlantic section, finished third at the USTA League presented by Chrysler 4.0 Adult National Championships held at the Randolph Tennis Center in Tucson, Arizona.
The Columbia team defeated a team from Winchester, MA, (3-2) in the Third Place match. Earlier in the day, the Columbia team lost to a team from Gig Harbor, WA (3-2) in the semifinals. They advanced this far by winning their round-flight contested Friday and Saturday.
The team is captained by Steve McCoy and featured: Norio Nishi, Jeffrey Britt, Timothy Whittier, Steve Dustin, Ben Sandler, Sean Chen, Christian Burkett, Rich Kent, Mark Salazar, Dan Morgan and Cliff Bernstein.
|.© Cynthia Lum|
New England Men Place Fourth
The men’s team from Winchester, MA representing the USTA New England section, finished fourth at the USTA League presented by Chrysler 4.0 Adult National Championships held at the Randolph Tennis Center in Tucson, Arizona.
The Winchester team lost to a team from Columbia, MD, (3-2) in the Third Place match. Earlier in the day, the Winchester team lost to a team from Redding, CA (4-1) in the semifinals. They advanced this far by winning their round-flight contested Friday and Saturday.
The team is captained by Kevin Lewis and featured: Ben Guth, Wilbur Kim, George Waddington, David Arnoff, John Denboer, Nick Casolaro, Robert Curtain, Kevin Moody, William O’Rourke and Ross Sanger.
|.© Cynthia Lum|
Donated Agassi Photo Raises $600 for Red Cross Fund for Southern California
Harry Shull of North Las Vegas, Nev. was the top bidder in a benefit auction for a framed photo of Andre Agassi at Saturday’s player party at the USTA League presented by Chrysler National Championships in Tucson, Ariz.
|Harry Shull of Las Vegas, NV.© Cynthia Lum|
The $600 raised in the auction is being donated to the Red Cross Fund to help those affected by the fires in Southern California.
Noted photographer, Cynthia Lum, donated and signed the framed print of the Agassi photo, which she snapped at Agassi’s final match of his career at last year’s US Open. Agassi is blowing kisses to the crowd.
Harry traveled to Tucson to support good friend, Laura Fenton, who plays on the Missouri Valley women’s 4.0 team that advanced to the semifinals yesterday. Coincidentally, both Harry and Laura were in Arthur Ashe stadium last year for Agassi’s last match.
Neil & Dale Radermacher (Eagan, MN) have been playing tennis since they were kids. Being eight years apart the two always wanted to play doubles together in school whether at high school or in college but never got the chance until they found the USTA League program.
"The best thing about the USTA (United States Tennis Association) League program is that it allowed Neil and I to finally accomplish what we wanted to do as kids, play on the same court as a team," replied Dale
Once the two got into the program they set the goal of making it to the National Championships together as the mark and this year they reached there goal.
"The best thing about being at the tournament is that we get to share this whole experience not only with each other but our team from the Northern Section," stated Neil.
"It just fits," replied Dale. "If one of us plays bad the other always picks it up. It’s like we know what the other is thinking."
With Neil having a thirteen year old son and Dale with three little boys in the past four years tennis has taken a backseat for the duo but even with limited time to hit the court they always find a way.
"We have a school between our houses," laughed Neil. "When we have the chance we call each other up and say, ‘Hey, I’ll meet you at the courts.’"
What made the tournament even more special for the two Radermachers was that their mother who has not seen the two play as a doubles team in years got to make the short drive down from Phoenix to see them.
"She surprised us yesterday after our match when she told us she was moving back to Minnesota to be closer to the both of us," replied the guys.
It came down to the last match of the day to make it to the semi-finals for the team from Minnesota. After the last ball had been played they came up just a bit short.
It may also be the last time that Neil & Dale maybe playing at the National Championships together as Dale is moving up to the 4.5 level next year.
"This was an experience of a life time, something that we will never forget," replied Dale. "
Neil then summed it all up by saying, "I felt very satisfied to be 2-1 and in the running until the very last match and having played everyone on our team. The fact that Dale and I left it all out there on the court just like we had dreamed of as kids, says it all."
|Neil and Dale Radermacher© Cynthia Lum|
Pictures from last night's costume party:
|Costume Party© Cynthia Lum|
|.© Cynthia Lum|
|.© Cynthia Lum|
Day Two - Saturday, October 27
World Racquetball Champion Graces the USTA League Championships
With many World Racquetball Championship titles under her belt, Laura Fenton knows a thing or two about winning.
Now 45, she’s still a fierce racquetball player. Just last year, she took home the Ladies’ Open Doubles Title at the World Racquetball Championships in the Dominican Republic.
Laura is now bringing that same competitive fire to tennis, as a member of the Missouri Valley’s women 4.0 team that’s vying for their own medals at the USTA League Presented by Chrysler 4.0 Adult National Championships.
|Laura Fenton (Photo courtesy of Geoff Thomsen, www.doubledonut.com) |
As an adult, she didn’t pick-up a tennis racquet until two years ago, when a man suggested they play tennis as a first date. After a just a few minutes on court, Laura thought, "This is so much fun." It wasn’t long before she became a regular at a local Friday night mixed doubles social. And not long after that she was organizing her own Friday night mixers at the beautiful Country Club Plaza in downtown Kansas City. Her talent with a racquet didn’t go unnoticed, as she was soon recruited to play on a local USTA League teams.
But Laura’s no stranger to tennis. As a young girl, she played tennis, along with many other sports, in her home state of Nebraska. Competing in tournaments was difficult, however, as Laura was raised as a Seventh Day Adventist, and wasn’t able to participate on weekends. "I would win my tournament matches on Friday, but I couldn’t play again on Saturday; I would just hope it would rain on the weekends so that the later rounds would be rescheduled to a weekday." At the young age of 19, Laura gave up tennis to focus on other sports.
She went on to coach college basketball and become a professor of physiology, kinesiology and nutrition. Like many others, she rode the racquetball boom that was sweeping the county in the late 70s and early 80s.
When asked if racquetball hurts her tennis game, Laura asserted, "I don’t hit topspin. In tennis, you swing low-to-high, while racquetball’s all high-to-low. But I do hit a lot of slice and spin, and can place the ball."
Confounding opponents with her potent mixture of finesse and power, Laura’s epitomizes mental toughness. She’s aided her 4.0 team by sharing her experience in designing winning training regimens and strategies. "My double’s partner’s 49 and was only playing tennis when I met her. I’ve got her to cut down on some of the tennis to do some other training – footwork drills, light weights. I love playing on this team. We’re all about getting better."
|Laura Fenton© Cynthia Lum|
Her teammates aren’t the only ones to benefit from Laura’s competitive experience. After many years of trying to get her teenage daughter into tennis – to no avail – her daughter called her one afternoon from school, pleading, "Can you take an hour off work right now and teach me the rules of tennis because tryouts start at 3!"
Intimately familiar with the joys of victory, Laura takes great pride in others’ shining in a sport she’s loved since she was a girl. "Everyone should get to experience this sometime in their lives."
Opponents usually do a double-take when Stewart Stewart introduces himself. But occasionally, players across the net just don’t get it. "For some odd reason, a lot of people with call me ‘George,’ as in ‘Nice shot, George’."
|Stewart Stewart© Cynthia Lum|
The man with the double name hails from Las Vegas, Nevada and is part of the Intermountain 4.0 men’s team competing at this weekend’s USTA League National Championships in Tucson.
His father, a former Texas politician and his mother, a former actress, model and Las Vegas showgirl, loved the poet, William Carlos Williams, and named their youngest child, Stewart Maco Stewart, in his honor. (Maco is the first name of Stewart’s father.)
His opponents may not always remember his name, but they remember his game. He’s undefeated through local league, district and the Intermountain sectional championship. And true to his name, he only competes in doubles.
Queens of the Court
The women of the Florida team got a little extra help this morning. Lisa Ptacek and Stacey Ptacek, daughters of captain Beth Ptacek, had a special surprise for their mom and her teammates.
Stacey, currently in Florida had an idea to make "Queen of the Court" hats for each member of the team. She then sent them to her sister, Lisa, in Los Angeles who traveled out to Tucson with the special gifts.
"Both my sister and I wanted to do something fun for our mom and her teammates," said Lisa Ptacek. "What can I say, I guess we are still sorority girls at heart."
"I was thrilled that she (Lisa) was able to come out and support us, said captain / mom Beth Ptacek. "All the girls absolutely love the hats, they’re cute and fun!"
|Queen of the Courts© Cynthia Lum|
Part Time Tennis Player, Full Time Competitor
|Intermountain's Mike Springer© Cynthia Lum|
The men of team Intermountain are made up of quite a few characters, but Mike Springer definitely has to be considered for the top billing.
That is because Mike’s day job is unlike yours or mine. He works as a personal trainer in Las Vegas, NV., and specializes in training Mixed Martial Arts Athletes.
On the tennis side, Mike has been involved with the sport his entire life as has his parents and brother who also compete in USTA competitions.
"I got involved as a kid and have continued playing to this day", said Mike.
Mike’s most famous training client is the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s very own Frank Triggs who believes in Mike’s Kettle Bell training regimen.
"The Kettle Bell is a great way of increasing strength and stamina while also reducing body fat."
Mike believes so much in the Kettle Bell that he has a picture of one tattooed on his arm and even travels everywhere with it!
As for a type of advantage Mike can gain against his tennis opponents while on the court, he says intimidation is no longer a factor after being around the UFC fighters.
"If anything, I think they are afraid of me!" Mike jokingly states.
Tennis More Popular than Football at Florida Middle School
"I got my start in tennis, playing on the team at the Mowat Middle School in Panama City, Florida," said Brian Bullock, 28. Brian’s competing for a national title at the USTA League presented by Chrysler National Championship, as a member of the USTA Florida Men’s 4.0 team.
|Brian Bullock© Cynthia Lum|
He’s now coaching the same middle school tennis team. Brian teaches 7th grade geography at Mowat. When he was hired six years ago, the principal noted his tennis background and asked him to coach the team. For five of his six years, the Mowat teams have won the district championships. One of his girls went on to be #1 in the state.
That success has made tennis a very popular sport in Panama City. "We had over 80 kids try out for our middle school tennis teams the past two years. There were only 60 kids going out for football."
Asked why tennis is more popular than football, Brian noted, "Parents realize that anyone can pick up a racquet and have fun with tennis. They know that it’s a sport that one can do for a lifetime."
"I’d love to be able to offer a tennis program for all the students that do try out."Brian’s very supportive of the USTA’s No-Cut High School Program. If he had more courts and assistant coaches, he’d definitely sign up.
Brian himself played on his high school varsity team, and after graduating from college, joined a local USTA League men’s team just three years ago. Last year, his team made the state championships and this year, they find themselves at Nationals. "I’m planning on playing league tennis for a long time, so expect me back here in 20 years."
Is It True That The Third Time Could Be A Charm?
Becky Ragsdale & Linda Goad attended their first USTA League National Championship in 1993 and it was one that neither would ever forget. Becky was so dehydrated that she literally passed out during the team photo as that’s when the "friendship of a lifetime was started."
Over the years the bond the two have shared is something that that they would compare to being "sisters." When asked just what they meant by "sisters" the two responded, you know the onscreen comedy duo of Lucy & Ethel from the I Love Lucy Show, that’s us in a nutshell.
The two ladies literally finish each others sentences and are full of stories about how they named their dogs, Patrick Rafter and Lucy to how many different themed Christmas trees they have in their houses to always exchanging a Lucy & Ethel Christmas present each year.
|Mid West Women© Cynthia Lum|
When it comes to the real priorities in life, Becky replied, "It’s buying our teams outfits of course." "We all have to match and this season is black, red and white," stated Linda.
And if this is the year that the women from the Midwest take home the title, it may go back to a special motivational experience the team had the honor of attending in September when the team had a private four-hour clinic with the Davis Cup Dream Team Captain Tom Gordon in Indianapolis, Indiana.
What keeps bringing the duo back to the Carmel Racquet Club tennis courts each week as they have kept moving to the Nationals they replied at the same time, it’s the camaraderie of the team and the fact that we keep meeting new people all the time when we travel to the tournaments.
When the question arose about what the Midwest team would do if they did cash in on the third time being a charm, team members Amy Cooke and Lisa Waddell jumped in with the fact that they are all going to get jackets with a Rhinestone Skull & Cross-Bones on it with the words "Bad to the Bone" written underneath it.
"We’ll have to see about the Rhinestones," piped in Becky & Linda, "the princesses may want to go with diamonds."
On a side note, Becky & Linda also participate in the USTA "No-Cut" Tennis Program with 56 kids in the tennis program at the Park Tudor School in Indiana.
Six High School Coaches Lead Pacific Northwest Men’s Team to the Semis
The men’s 4.0 team from Gig Harbor, Washington advanced to the semifinals of the USTA League presented by Chrysler National Championship in Tucson, Arizona today.
Does having six high school coaches on a league team give one a competitive advantage? Team captain, Joel Peyton, is positive it does. He took a break from playing competitive tennis to coach a local high school team at Gig Harbor High School. "When I came back to League tennis, I was playing so much better. As a coach you have to analyze your players’ game and correct mistakes. I’m now analyzing my own game in the same way."
Paul Ancich, a coach at Lakes High School in Tacoma, Washington, adds, "We’re more than happy to give and get advice from each other."
Craig Schmidt coaches at Charles Wright Academy in Tacoma, Washington. His boys’ tennis team won the state championship last year, and are on track to repeat again, with an undefeated record so far this year.
Team member Regan Crema was an assistant high school coach with Peyton at Gig Harbor High School. In fact, two of their students, Justin Brown and Brent Smoots, are now on their 4.0 Men’s team. Justin, in turn, has become an assistant high school coach at Peninsula High School, a rival to the Gig Harbor High School.
Two of the coaches, Justin and Paul, have adopted a no-cut policy for their high school teams, through the USTA "No-Cut" Tennis Program. "We used to work with just the varsity and junior varsity players," Paul states, "but now we’re offering tennis to almost 50 kids on five courts. It’s great to see how tennis can have such a positive effect on kid’s character on and off the court."
Justin adds, "I like helping kids. I’ve appreciated all the coaching I received and know how important it is. At our team’s year-end party, all the kids on our no-cut team wrote thank you notes to the coaches. It was great." Justin’s biggest thrill was seeing one of his students go from not ever picking up a racquet to making the varsity team at his high school in just a year.
A no-cut policy means that every student who wishes to play is welcomed as a member of the team. Some programs have more than 100 official high school tennis team members. The coaches of these teams serve as positive role models and make a difference by spending the extra time and effort to ensure that thousands of young players experience the fun of representing their high school tennis team.
For those coaches who want to implement a no-cut policy, but have questions or obstacles, an advisory team of experienced coaches are available to offer advice at email@example.com. If you would like to learn more about the USTA "No-Cut" Tennis Program you can click go to www.usta.com/no-cut for more information.
|Pacific Northwest Coaches© Cynthia Lum|
Father and Son
On the Pacific Northwest's men’s team, two of the members have a closer bond than being just teammates. They are in fact father and son. John Smoots and his son, Brent, have been able to remain close through the game of tennis even as they grow older.
"Ever since he’s been a little guy, he’s taken lessons from (current Southern teammate) Regan Crema, so you can say our team has been together for awhile," said John.
John said it has been a joy to see the transformation of Brent’s game from back when he was younger to now.
"He has actually surpassed me and is now a better player," said John. It is very rewarding to watch him and cheer him on."
Brent is also grateful to get to share this time with his father.
"He’s the one who got me into the game and really showed me how to play," Brent said. "I love being on the same court with him."
Brent and John are pictured above as part of the "No Cut" program. Brent is in red with his father, John, in blue.
No Pain, No Gain
Tennis matches can be long and grueling. And for the Midwest Men’s 4.0 Adult team from Detroit, Michigan that’s the best way to sum up there season.
The team has been playing together since the 1990’s and to say that they have grown up together is an understatement.
Some of the players first started playing together back in high school and have remained friends since.
It’s a team that after the tournament is done this weekend will see three players all go under the knife for arthroscopic knee surgeries to fix injuries that have had to deal with all year.
Day One - Friday, October 26
Twin Cities Twins
Look out Bob and Mike Bryan. Minneapolis/St. Paul has its own set of doubles-playing twins who have been making an impact on the local scene longer than they have been alive.
Although the world’s number-one ranked doubles team might not be shaking in their Adidas shoes, women in the Twin Cities have long been looking for a way to beat this dynamic duo, all the while trying to figure out which one is which.
Identical twins Judy Freeman and Jill Greer, of the Northern women’s team, are fixtures in USTA League Tennis presented by Chrysler. They have participated in the program since its inception in 1980 and after 23 years of collecting silver balls, the sisters finally qualified for the 4.0 Senior National Championships in 2005 and are here again, this time in the adult 4.0 division, in 2007.
"It took us only until we were 50 years old to qualify for the national tournament," the twins joked. "It was a really great experience to get there and see how everything is run."
The life-long doubles partners have also developed their own language on the court. Like the Bryan Brothers, one is left handed (Greer) and the other right handed (Freeman), although Greer can play with both her left and right hand. They often dress alike confusing their opponents, which Freeman says, "normally gives us three games a match."
When playing, they know they are about as unconventional as they come, developing a number of unique formations they named themselves including the ‘Y’ and the ‘Pitcher-Catcher’. "We always joke that we have four legs and one brain."
Freeman, who is one minute older than Greer, said. "We know we don’t play conventionally. We either have one person out there or three. We have to play as a team because we know we have the same pluses and minuses so we are really good or really bad." Good or bad, tennis has given so much to both Freeman and Greer over the years.
"No one ever made us play tennis," Greer said. "We just played because we wanted to play. Besides it is really in to be a twin in tennis right now."
|Judy Freeman and Jill Greer of the Northern Women's Team© Cynthia Lum|
It is customary for teams to exchange small gifts here at the National Championships.
|Florida's Beth Ptacek (left) and Mid Atlantic's Elyse Jacob© Cynthia Lum|
The women of the Florida and Mid Atlantic regions both got their creative energies flowing and came up with unique gifts that reflect their respective hometowns.
Florida's gift included a miniature beach lounge chair with sand to represent the beaches of Florida.
The Mid Atlantic team, whose hometown state is Maryland included baking recipes, Maryland flags, and other Maryland goodies.
Pictured are Florida captain Beth Ptacek and Mid Atlantic captain Elyse Jacob exchanging gifts.
Age Is Just A Number
Is it possible to raise four children, work full time, have a successful marriage, and be a tennis champion too? If you are Audrey Folden from the Southern California women’s team, it most certainly is. Audrey, who turned 70 years old in May, has been an inspiration to the her 4.0 adult team, because she managed to remain both physically and mentally tough. This philosophy has served her well as she navigates life both on the court and off, particularly during this past USTA spring season.
Audrey began playing tennis as a child, along with her younger sister, Mimi. Their parents, who met on the tennis courts, taught them the game. While Mimi eventually became one of the top ten women players in the world during the late 1950’s, Audrey opted for college life, playing tennis at Pomona College, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1959. She met the love of her life, Michael Folden, while both were students at Pomona, marrying him upon graduation.
Mike and Audrey settled in Claremont and started their family, producing four children in 2 ½ years. Tennis took a back seat during those busy years, as Audrey changed five- dozen diapers a day! In 1968, when her twin daughters entered kindergarten, Audrey enrolled in Claremont Graduate School, earning her teaching credential.
|Audrey Folden© Cynthia Lum|
In 1969, Audrey began teaching in Chino, where she would remain until her retirement in 2002. Throughout her career, Audrey served as a classroom teacher, reading specialist and Reading Recovery teacher, while being named teacher of the year in 1997. Audrey’s vast educational experience eventually led her to the college classroom, where she served as an instructor in the teacher education department at Cal Poly Pomona.
Sometime in 1978, when her children were a little older, Audrey found time to renew her love of tennis, with the encouragement and support of Mike. After work, Audrey would hit the tennis courts at a local college each day and play senior tournaments on the weekends, where she was highly successful. In her almost thirty year senior career, Audrey has won the National Women’s 45 Doubles Hardcourt Championships, in 1982, as well as a third place finish in the 1997 National Women’s 60 Hardcourts. She has also won numerous tournament titles throughout Southern California, with Mike on the sidelines cheering her on.
In early 2006, Mike was diagnosed with bladder cancer, which required extensive treatment. Finding fewer and fewer tournaments available in her age group, and also wanting to remain close to home, Audrey decided to join the women’s 4.0 spring team at the Claremont Club, with strong encouragement from captain Gina Tsai. Playing number two singles, Audrey remained undefeated throughout the season, beating players less than half her age. Just before area playoffs in July, Audrey’s most loyal fan, Mike, passed away. Audrey sought solace back on the tennis court, winning her match in area playoffs one day and, along with her family, sprinkling Mike’s ashes at sea the next day.
August brought sectional playoffs, with Audrey in top form. While she truly missed Mike’s courtside presence, she still played beautifully, helping the Claremont team clinch a spot at nationals by winning the deciding match for the team in a tiebreaker.
So you see, it is possible to have it all, especially if you are Audrey Folden. Her accomplishments in life, which have now grown to include eight grandchildren, have come with lots of hard work and determination. Yet even with the loss of her best friend, Mike, she has still managed to remain an inspiration to us all, on and off the tennis courts.
The Mid-Atlantic "Red Hot Baltimore Firecrackers" Women
The Baltimore Firecrackers have found a place to compete, have fun and stay healthy –all while remaining undefeated!
The Firecrackers are made up of 19 women from Baltimore who all lead very busy lives, but somehow manage to find the time to compete in the USTA.
Most have full time jobs and/or perform volunteer work in the community. They have kids (40 in total), husbands, parents, and non-tennis playing friends but they love their tennis. They believe the team will help them in their everyday lives.
"I can’t emphasize enough what a great group of intelligent, fun, high quality and talented women that I play with," said Colleen McMillan. "They are a tremendous wealth of knowledge and advice which has really helped me learn about Baltimore, as well as to enjoy living in Baltimore."
|Mid Atlantic Women© Cynthia Lum|
A core of the group has been together for many years and now has grown to 19 members. Some played in high school, a few in college (years ago), and some recently just took up tennis.
"I love being part of a team, the excitement and the joy I feel when we win is reminiscent of playing on my college tennis team," said Leesa McShane. "I especially enjoy the camaraderie and friendships. What has brought us together was the love of tennis, what keeps us together is our friendships."
On the name – "The Red Hot Firecrackers"
Red because their team shirts were Red; Hot because some of the team still have youthful toned bodies, and the others are beginning those Hot flashes; and Firecrackers because for several years they have been league champions and they enter this weekend’s National Championship with a record of 18-0.
For everyone on the Firecrackers, the group means so much more than just being part of a tennis team. They provide support on many issues including advice on parenting, dealing with crisis, work issues to name a few. They also enjoy discussing home improvement projects, shopping advice, vacation ideas, networking for a career change, and most importantly the share a strong bond that will last a lifetime.