Barry Livingston at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
© Jeff Bottari/USTA
By Eli Gieryna
INDIAN WELLS, Calif., For team captain Barry Livingston and the rest of the Southern California 4.0 Men’s team, the third time wasn’t the charm.
Or the fourth. Or even the fifth.
After eight years of close calls and disappointments, the squad recently won its sectional championship and finally competes at the 2008 USTA League presented by Chrysler 4.0 National Championships at Indian Wells Tennis Garden, the first national championship appearance for the group.
“I’m just walking on air right now,” said Livingston, who has captained his team for each of its eight years. “We’re all so excited to be here, and we’re ready to get started playing.”
Most of the original team remains from when they were formed in 2000. The group managed to advance from the district level to the Southern California section championships in seven of their eight years together, but this year it finally came together.
Livingston attributes the breakthrough to strategy and better roster management.
“We changed up some of the doubles and players this year, and I think it helped things click,” he said. “Players were put in a better position to succeed.”
Team member Steve Fulton, who has been with the team all eight years, agreed that the captain’s strategy paid off.
“All of the players are pretty even at the section championships, so it’s important to look at the match-ups and get things set up as best as possible,” he said.
The team is based out of the Moore Park Tennis Club in Southern California, a public tennis center with 300-400 members. After the team advanced to nationals, the club recognized their achievement with a banner that now hangs in the club. The sign – modeled after a street sign – has each of the players’ names etched onto it.
While Livingston and his team are happy to be competing in Indian Wells, they aren’t satisfied to just show up and play their matches.
“It took forever to get here, so why settle for just showing up?” Livingston said. “We came here to win, and we expect to do that.”