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Mid-Atlantic men breakthrough to return to nationals

March 26, 2009 10:43 AM
Harold Schafke, captain of the Mid-Atlantic men's team.
Harold Schafke at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
By J. Fred Sidhu

INDIAN WELLS, CALIF. – It took them a few years, but after playing the USTA Nationals in 2000, the men’s USTA Mid-Atlantic section team from Maryland made it back to the 2008 USTA League presented by Chrysler 3.5 Senior National Championships.

The men’s team from Maryland fell short of returning to the Nationals each year since 2001, including 2005 through 2007 when they lost to Virginia Beach.

“It was painful each year,” said team captain Harold Schafke. “Last year, all three courts went to a third-set tiebreaker to come here, so it’s been a frustrating time.”

He added, “We did it in year 2000 and we’ve been trying since 2000 to come back to the Nationals. We really have the same core of guys playing for the last six or seven years. In fact, three of us played in the year 2000 in Nationals.”

This year, their determination and persistency paid off as the team finally broke through at the sectional level. They won their deciding match 3-0 to avoid losing a tiebreaker in the team standings and earned a return trip to the Nationals.

When asked how it felt to be playing the 3.5 Senior Nationals at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden this year, Schafke said, “It feels great. The experience here has been just phenomenal. It’s been a great accomplishment to come here this year and we hope to represent Mid-Atlantic very well.”

According to Schafke sticking with the same group of players has been the key to getting back to the Nationals. “We’re not smart enough to take on new players,” he said. “We just stay with the same old guys and keep slugging away trying to get here.”


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