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Latest News from the 4.5 Senior National Championship

Latest News from the 2003 USA League Tennis 4.5 Senior

National Championships presented by Lincoln

By Jeff Heckelman

Click here for the photo gallery

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Northern Women and Midwest Men Capture Titles!

Midwest men's first doubles team of captain Bill Mooney and Wade Dieter celebrate their national championship victory.
The women's team from Minneapolis, Minn., representing the USTA Northern Section, and the men's team from Cleveland, Ohio, representing the USTA Midwest Section, won the 4.5 Senior USA League Tennis National Championships presented by Lincoln today.

The Northern women defeated Intermountain in the semifinals (3-0), then took on Florida in a hotly contested final (pun intended, as temperatures hovered around 100 degrees for the fourth straight day in Palm Springs).  Though Florida took the first doubles point, Northern won the other two, thanks to the strong play of second doubles team Susan Furtney and captain Jackie Faegre, and third doubles team Nancy Engasser and Suzanne Barbarossa.

The Midwest men defeated Pacific Northwest in the semifinals, then defeated Missouri Valley in the final.  The teams split the first two matches, setting up a winner-take-all doubles match that had everybody's attention. 

Midwest captain Bill Mooney savors the moment of his national championship victory.
Missouri Valley's William Jones and Bob Dickinson won the first set, which seemed to last forever, but Midwest captain Bill Mooney and his partner Wade Dieter came roaring back with a 6-2 second set win to set up a match tiebreak for the championship.  After saving a match point at 8-9, Midwest got one of its own and didn't pass up the opportunity, winning 11-9 to take the title.

This was the sixth national championship appearance for Midwest team member Bob Flacks, but his first time being on the winning team.



2003 4.5 Senior Women's USA League Tennis
National Championships presented by Lincoln - Final Standings

Champion:  Northern (Minneapolis)
2nd place:  Florida (Orlando, Fla.)
3rd place:  Southwest (Phoenix)
4th place:  Intermountain (Bozeman, Mont.)

2003 4.5 Senior Men's USA League Tennis
National Championships presented by Lincoln - Final Standings

Champion:  Midwest (Cleveland)
2nd place:  Missouri Valley (Kansas City)
3rd place:  Southern (Shreveport, La.)   
4th place:  Pacific Northwest (Seattle) 


Northern Women (l-r: Nancy Engasser, Suzanne Barbarossa, Christine Reily, Deborah Hedlund, Susan Eastman Tilsch, Jackie Faegre, Susan Furtney)



Midwest Men (l-r: Wade Dieter, David Kucsma, Robert Flacks, William Mooney, Gerald Cannon, John Lilly, Lawrence Dister; kneeling: Glenn Rader)


Semifinals and Finals Results from Sunday, October 19, 2003
Women’s Finals
Minneapolis def. Orlando, Fla., 2-1

Men’s Finals
Cleveland def. Kansas City, 2-1

Women’s Semifinals
Minneapolis def. Bozeman, Mont., 3-0
Orlando, Fla., def. Phoenix, 2-1
3rd place match:
Phoenix, def. Bozeman, Mont., 2-1

Men’s Semifinals
Cleveland, def. Seattle, 2-1
Kansas City, def. Shreveport, La., 2-1
3rd place match:
Shreveport, La., def. Seattle, 2-1


Saturday, October 18, 2003

The semifinal matchups are set for Sunday morning. The following eight teams (four men's and four women's) finished first in their respective flights and will compete for the national championship:


Southern vs. Missouri Valley

Pacific Northwest vs. Midwest


Northern vs. Intermountain

Florida vs. Southwest


Husband and wife Bob and Joan Thompson are both competing for a national championship here in Palm Springs
All in the Family

The men's and women's teams from the USTA Pacific Northwest section have more in common than the region of the country in which they live.  Both teams have a member of the Thompson family of Salem, Ore., as husband/wife combo Bob and Joan Thompson both qualified with their teams for the 4.5 Senior national championships.  This year is the first national championship for either of them, and they are happy to be able to share the experience with each other.  And best of all, Bob and his teammates won their flight, qualifying for Sunday's semifinals, where they will face a team from Cleveland representing the USTA Midwest section.



USTA National Office Representative Adrienne DiMenna recovers from a nasty fall on the streets of Palm Springs.
Watch Out for Speedbumps!

Saturday morning began with a rather bizarre injury - but it didn't happen to any of the players.  USTA National Office Representative Adrienne DiMenna decided to wake up early and go for a run, but little did she know she'd run into a number of painful obstacles.  It all started, Adrienne said, when a large group of motorcyclists came roaring up behind her on the streets of Palm Springs.  Assuming she was being chased, Adrienne sped up to avoid the coming onslaught, when out of nowhere a speedbump appeared in the road and tripped her, sending Adrienne crashing to the pavement with a bruised shoulder and a scraped knee.  Luckily, tournament trainer Terre York was available to administer first aid.  Within minutes, Adrienne was back at the tournament desk running the show, good as new.  Though she suffered a bit of embarrassment for the fall, in her defense Adrienne said, "It was very early in the morning - it's really hard to see the speedbumps in the dark!"





Friday, October 17, 2003

Game On!

Beautiful Palm Springs, Calif. serves as host for the 2.5 Adult USA League Tennis National Championships
The competition out here in Palm Springs is more heated than the weather - and it's over 100 degrees on the courts at the Riviera Resort and Racquet Club, which is playing host to the 16 men's and 16 women's teams from around the country that have gathered for the 4.5 Senior USA League Tennis National Championships.  The best recreational tennis players in their division this year, these men and women battled both the conditions and each other in an exciting first day - but in the end, the name of the game is fun.



An Unexpected Reunion

Sheila Banks and Robin Rodger catch up on lost times
The USA League Tennis National Championships are well known for bringing people from all over the country together, but this week, the tournament has brought a pair of people back together.  Robin Rodger and Sheila Banks hadn't seen each other in decades, since they went to elementary school together.  Today they reunited, as Robin is here as captain of the Southern California women's team from San Diego and Sheila, Section Leagues Coordinator for the USTA Pacific Northwest Section, is here as Tournament Director.  "We were in school together at Point Loma in San Diego," Rodger said, "I distinctly remember sleeping over at Sheila's house one night."  Banks was equally surprised to see Rodgers. "I couldn't believe it when I realized who she was," Banks said. 




Tennis Helps Breast Cancer Survivor Recover

Two years ago, Lois Woodard of Dillon, Mont., was fighting for her life, undergoing a mastectomy, reconstructive surgery and seven months of intensive chemotherapy.  Today, she is playing for a national championship, and she gives much of the credit to the game of tennis for helping her recover from breast cancer.  "I love tennis," Woodard said, "and it turned out to be wonderful treatment."  Her right-handed service motion and practice with overheads helped Woodard strengthen her right side, and she was back playing with her teammates in Bozeman in just a few months.  Now, they're here in Palm Springs representing the USTA Intermountain Section, and Woodard couldn't be happier.  "I know I'm not the only person who's gone through this," she said, "I think more women need to know how helpful tennis can be during recovery."  So far, Woodard's team is having a great weekend, as they won both their matches on Friday, defeating Southern California in the morning and Pacific Northwest in the afternoon to take the lead in their flight.



Two for One

Many teams play USA League Tennis for years and years and never get the chance to compete for a national championship.  A group of ladies from Dallas, Texas are here this weekend playing for a national championship for the second time --- this month!  That's right, captain Kay Tully's group of ladies won the USTA Texas Sectional Championships in both the 4.5 Adult and Senior divisions.  They played last weekend in Tucson, Ariz. Though they didn't make it to the semifinals, they posted a strong 2-1 record in their flight.  Today, they lost both their matches by a 2-1 score - to Northern California in the morning and Florida in the afternoon.




Boston's Pain Felt in California

Though on the other side of the country, New Englanders Robert McKinley and Steven Levenson suffered along with the rest of their region as their beloved Boston Red Sox fell to the Yankees in dramatic fashion Thursday night.  They even watched the end of the game in the hotel lounge with a team from New York - and believe it or not, they actually got along.  "We're in different flights, so the only way we'd play each other is if we met in the semis or the finals," McKinley explained.  "So we decided to let the outcome of the baseball game decide who'd serve first should we meet on Sunday."

While devastated by the loss, their enthusiasm for tennis - and especially USA League Tennis - hasn't wavered.  "Whatever everyone here does in their private life - whether they're a doctor, a lawyer or a postman - we're all brought together here because we love playing tennis," Levenson said.  "There aren't a lot of sports out there where you can compete both as a child and as a senior citizen."
Levenson has been playing tennis all his life, but says, "this is the best tennis I've ever played in my whole life."  McKinley shares his teammates enthusiasm for the program.  "This is my fourth year at nationals, and I've never played a single match against a poor sport."



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