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Nationals: A Baton Rouge Tradition

The Baton Rouge Attack team.
The Baton Rouge Attack was playing hard at the 3.0 Adult's in Tucson, Ariz.
The 3.0 Adult Men's Southern team in action in Tucson, Ariz.

By Danielle Elliot, USTA.com

With teams hailing from nine states, Southern is by far the country’s largest USTA League Section. And yet, when it comes to the 3.0 adult men’s division, teams from one city seem to own the competition.

For the third year in a row, a Baton Rouge men’s team is playing in the USTA League 3.0 Adult National Championships. This year’s contender is the Baton Rouge Attack.

“The competition is tough,” team member Robert Whitney says, “I think it’s the toughest section in the country. We had some hard matches, but we made it. Barely.”

“It’s great to be here,” Denis Naquin says, “I didn’t play much the first set because of the butterflies, but it’s a good feeling to know you are playing against the cream of the crop. It’s nice to know you’re playing for something this big.”

The team almost missed the season completely. “A few of us were talking about getting a team together, but no one really wanted to be captain,” Jimmy Betz recalls. Just three days before the deadline, he stepped up to the plate, made a few calls and put the paperwork in order. “Somehow, it all worked. Now, everyone’s good friends, and here we are.”

Here they are; the latest in a string of successful Baton Rouge teams. In addition to being the third consecutive men’s 3.0 team to qualify for nationals; last year, the men’s 4.5 team won the title. This year, the 4.5 Women will compete Halloween weekend in Las Vegas.

“We’ve had many teams go to nationals and sectionals from Baton Rouge in the past,” Naquin says, “and I think we’ve all benefited from it.”

The Attack worked with the players from last year’s 3.0 team to prepare.

“They met with us, played us on the weekends. It really helped us out a lot,” says Whitney. Their advice? “Play smart and don’t try for winners every time.”

“They definitely helped us,” Travis Spillman adds with a laugh, “even if we did get our butts kicked.”

The camaraderie among the players – whether teammates or opponents - is what sets the Baton Rouge tennis community apart, Betz says. “It is a fantastic tennis community; a tennis family really. It’s not so big, so you get to know all the other players. And you know them more than just saying hi before a match. You know about their families and what’s going on in their lives. But it’s not too small. You still play some new people. It’s the perfect size.”

“It’s definitely the biggest tennis community and most competition in the state,” says Spillman.

A community that the team is thrilled to represent at nationals, keeping the three year streak alive.

“Baton Rouge is proud,” Betz says. “I’m sure it’s not some kind of record, there’re probably towns with teams that come every year, but for us, this is special.”

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Oct. 2-4, 2009
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4.5 Senior | 3.5 Senior

Oct. 30 - Nov. 1, 2009
4.5 Adult | 3.0 Senior

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2.5, 6.0 & 8.0 Mixed

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