By Jeffrey Seals, USTA.com
It is common for teams to show up at the USTA League National Championships in similar attire, but it is a rarity to see a dozen or so adult men with porcupine drawings on their backs. The 4.5 Adult Intermountain men from Utah have made their way to their first national championship after years of trial and error and are proudly sporting the shirts of the Porcupine Pub and Grille, a restaurant in the Salt Lake City area that sponsors the team.
Team captain Milton Talkington has led his squad of prickles to Las Vegas in hopes of taking a national championship north up I-15 back to Utah. Talkington has captained this band of men for quite some time with the majority dating back to 2002. He has seen many players move up in the rankings and others come and go, but a good core has always been present.
Talkington has played tennis since his high school days in central Texas. He made the move from the “Lone Star State” to the “Beehive State” in 1991. Over the past 18 years, he has set roots in Salt Lake City and now owns two different businesses, one in finance and the other in consulting.
Over the past seven years, he has led eight teams to sectionals with five nearly reaching the national championships only to fall in tiebreakers. In 2007, he managed two squads, 4.0 and 4.5, to sectionals only to come up short.
Originally, the team played at the Canyon Racquet Club until it was sold and later torn down. The team then moved to Coach Mike’s Tennis Academy, its home for the past few years.
The Porcupine Pub and Grille (3698 East Fort Union Blvd. “7200 South”) opened in 1997 and is located in the “Mideast valley” of Salt Lake City. The restaurant has sponsored the team since 2004 with the team proudly displaying the eatery’s logo on their backs. After their big section championship victory and in honor of their pending trip to Las Vegas, the restaurant funded the purchase of new team shirts which the men have proudly displayed in Sin City.