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Tazz-manian Angel

Tazz trying out some gear.
Getting a free ride.

By Danielle Elliot, USTA.com

There are 34 teams competing for the men’s and women’s titles this weekend at the USTA League 3.0 Adult National Championships in Tucson, Ariz. Several have family and friends rooting them on. The Mid-Atlantic men’s team, however, has the most unique cheerleader.

They brought team mascot Tazz, a 10-year old Pomeranian, who looks just like a teddy bear, with fluffy golden fur and a black button nose.

Rescued from a pound eight years ago, Tazz has a laid back, cheerful demeanor. It has made him a favorite of players and tournament staff alike. This weekend, Tazz usually can be found silently cheering on the Mid-Atlantic team from his spot inside owner James Dorf’s racquet bag.

Dorf adds that Tazz’s tranquil disposition can be attributed, at least in part, to an upcoming knee surgery. While he waits to go under the knife, Tazz is content being the center of so much attention.

“He’s a chic magnet,” Dorf says. “Everyone loves to rub his head. He loves being around people.”

And the team loves having him here. “We went 5-0 this morning when he was there,” Dorf says, “the team needs Tazz!”

The adorable furball has been traveling to tournaments for about five years. So far he’s seen at least 15 sectional championships and two previous national championships. In April, he boosted Dorf’s mixed seniors team to the national title in Orlando, Fla.

For the Orlando tournaments, Dorf drove down from his hometown of Baltimore, Md., with Tazz riding shotgun.

“This was his first flight,” Dorf says of this week’s cross-country trek. “He was better than I was!” Tazz had comfortable travel arrangements, with his own seat on the plane and bed all to himself at the Doubletree Hotel. When Dorf ordered room service, hotel staff even brought a water and food bowl for Tazz.

Tazz’s attendance at the various tournaments wouldn’t be possible, Dorf says, without John Smith, his co-captain of five years. Smith’s presence gives Dorf a chance to split the responsibilities of being a captain and taking care of Tazz.

He’ll go in for surgery in about three weeks. The procedure is scheduled earlier to give Tazz a chance for full recovery before his next cheering adventure. He’ll be cheering on the mixed seniors again this April in Orlando.

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Find a 2009 National Championship:

Apr. 9-11, 2010
Senior Mixed Invitational
Orlando, FL

Apr. 23-25, 2010
6.0 & 8.0 Super Senior
Surprise , AZ

Apr. 30 - May 2, 2010
7.0 & 9.0 Super Senior
Surprise , AZ

Oct. 2-4, 2009
5.0 Adult | 4.0 Adult

Oct. 9-11, 2009
2.5 Adult | 3.0 Adult

Oct. 16-18, 2009
3.5 Adult | 4.0 Senior

Oct. 23-25, 2009
4.5 Senior | 3.5 Senior

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

Nov. 20-22, 2009
2.5, 6.0 & 8.0 Mixed

7.0, 9.0 & 10.0 Mixed

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