© Jeff Bottari/USTA
By Fred Allemann
INDIAN WELLS, Calif., In the most dramatic match on Friday, sisters Amy Cass and Debby Day of the Lifetime Fitness (Minneapolis, Minn.) team pulled out a nail biter over the USTA Intermountain team from the Sports Mall (Anderson, UT), 6-7, 7-6, 1-0 (13-11 in the match tiebreak) at the 2008 USTA League presented by Chrysler Senior 4.0 National Championship, held October 17-19 in Indian Wells, California. It was the only match of the day in which all three sets were determined by tiebreakers.
“After losing that first set tiebreak,” says younger sister Amy, “we changed strategy and decided to lob on almost every point.” The new strategy was a stroke of genius and resulted in the team’s only point of the match as they lost the other two doubles lines. “Luckily, we’re in the one flight that has five teams,” explains Amy. “That gives us a little more time to find our groove.”
Amy and Debby first learned to compete growing up as one of eight siblings, seven sisters and one brother, all of whom, save one, play tennis. “Our sister who doesn’t play is our biggest fan, always coming out to cheer us on,” states Amy. “Our dad inspired us all to play tennis; he’s 85 now and still plays three times a week. And he’s pretty darn good, I must say.”
Amy, 53, who resides in Rochester, Minn. is the only team member not from Minneapolis. As a result, in addition to playing on her sister’s team, she also competes for a Rochester-based 4.0 team. When the sectional tourney rolled around, Amy had a choice to make. Play for her hometown Rochester squad or her sister’s Minneapolis team.
“You know, ‘Blood is thicker than water,’” admits Amy, “so, of course, I decided to play for my sister’s team. When I first joined the Rochester team,” recounts Amy, “I told my captain that I was also playing for another team captained by my sister. Luckily, there were no hard feelings.”
On the final Sunday of the sectional, a match tiebreak decided which USTA Northern team would advance to the national championship; Deby and Amy’s Minneapolis team won that tiebreak to eek out the narrowest of victories over the second-place team from – you guessed it – Amy’s Rochester team.
Although Amy and Deby performed well, they were not the Minneapolis sisters responsible for the final match tiebreak. That honor went to another pair of sisters on the Minneapolis team, identical twins, Judy (Sigel) Freeman and Jill (Sigel) Greer, 54.
All of the sisters are veterans of many USTA League National Championships. “This is the third national championship for me, Jill and Judy,” says Amy, “Debby takes the cake, competing at her fifth national championship.”
Appropriately enough, the Lifetime Fitness team nickname is “The Sistas”. And they’re definitely doing it for themselves.