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Southern Team Relies on Quack Attack

March 26, 2009 10:43 AM
The AFLAC duck?
A duckstroke winner

By Jeff Seals

Although they couldn’t visibly be seen in the sky, 60 ducks migrated to Las Vegas this Halloween weekend at the Darling Tennis Center for the USTA League presented by Chrysler 3.0 Senior National Championships with help from the USTA Southern men who hail from Roswell, Ga. Actually, the ducks aren’t of the living variety but more battery powered and wearing sunglasses.

The ducks flocking to nationals isn’t a new thing. It is a two-year thing. Dean Thompson, a marketing representative for Aflac insurance, began the journey for the feathered toys last year at the USTA League presented by Chrysler 3.0 national championships in Indian Wells, Calif. Thompson is no longer with the 3.0 men because he and his squad were pushed up to the 3.5 level after he and his team won the 2007 national title.

After winning the title last year, the ducks became a necessity for the Southern men and were brought back for their second league national championship appearance. The ducks are good luck charms for the team but they are popular in a different crowd as well. “People are always stopping and asking if they can have one for their grandkids,” said Southern’s Don Niemas.

On a side note: Southern’s J.D. Merchant must play through pain to get his team into tomorrow’s championship bracket. Merchant suffered a sprain to his right ankle prior to Saturday’s matches and is relying on a heavy tape job to aid his play. Unfortunately, Merchant has to stay on the court because his team has only six members in Las Vegas. The seventh member, who would have made the trip, had to stay home due to his wife undergoing a heart procedure earlier in the week. “(Merchant) just has to go and crank it up,” noted Niemas.

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