© Joe Murphy
By Jenna Higueras, USTA.com
In an industry where it is every man for himself, eight Greensboro, N.C. teaching pros have joined forces to reach their first USTA League 5.0 Adult National Championships in Indian Wells, Calif.
“Most people in our industry compete against one another for racquet sales or lessons, but we all pool together. It is a unique situation where we all get along, “says Derek Gamble, Southern Section Team Captain. “We play golf together, we hang out, drink a few beers. You don’t see most competitors being that good of friends. So it is pretty neat.”
The Southern team is no stranger to high level competition having played in four straight USTA League 5.0 Adult Sectional Championships, but eventually losing in the final round to a Georgia or South Carolina team. Gamble attributes their continued success to the unique camaraderie the team has developed through out the years as teaching pros and college players. Half of the team members, Gamble, Tony Mulé, Michael Weidl and Jason Kinder played on the college team at University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Team members Derek Gamble and Toby Curtis also took part in this year’s US Open Tennis in the Ballpark in downtown Greensboro. The event was held at NewBridge Bank Park, home of minor league baseball’s North Carolina Grasshoppers and was created to give tennis fans an opportunity to watch US Open matches on the ballpark’s big screen. Gamble and Mule participated in an exhibition match played on a grass court specially constructed for the event. Additional activities included face painting, fast serve competitions, QuickStart short courts, and a “Dunk the Pro” contest that helped raise nearly $1,000 for local junior tennis programs.
Gamble is confident that these multiple connections and genuine enjoyment of one another will be beneficial in this weekend’s tournament. “We’re buddies. There is no ego on the team. We all want to play. We all want to compete. Everybody knows their place in the lineup. It works out really well, and I think that is what makes a good team balance.” After nine years together, the Southern team is looking forward to proving themselves and hoping their first trip to the championship will result in a trophy.
“We want to win like everybody else. We have several guys on the team that have won USTA Championships as individuals, but we want a team National Championship.”
The Southern team begins their tournament play today with a first round match against the Northern Section.