Adult 70 & Over League: When Tennis Becomes a Lifestyle
“Tennis helps keep me alive! I love winning but it’s not only about winning,” Larry Hayes, Captain of one of the Sunnyvale Adult 70 & Over teams said. And such is the theme of this inspiring league, where players are as competitive as anyone, but the love of the game, health, and friendships are what matters.
On February 6-7, 2019, the Adult 70 & Over season culminated when the Sectional Championships took place in Sunnyvale, CA. As USTA NorCal Adult Tennis Specialist and Tournament Director, DeDee Winfield said, “Under beautiful sunny skies, players enjoyed raffle prizes, t-shirts, snacks, and above all good tennis.”
The Adult 70 & Over league consisted of 40 teams and 504 players, spread out in the Men’s 6.0 category, Women’s 6.5, Men’s and Women’s 7.0 category, as well as Men’s and Women’s 8.0. The Sectional Championships crowned two winners, but other teams won their respective flights. Captained by Sue Nakayama, the Women’s 6.5 out Morgan Hill Tennis Club, the Women’s 7.0 from Millbrae Racquet Club captained by Sylvia Jackson, and the Women’s 8.0 team from Rio Del Mar, captained by Gay Finch, were all victorious of their flights.
Hosted by the Sunnyvale Tennis Center, the Sectional Championships were an example of the impact tennis can have on people. “You’re playing to stay alive,” Hayes, a USTA captain for over 30 years, stated. “We bonded through the years and all became friends. Larry Namekata, one of my players, has been on my team for 20 years.” Beyond the friendship that the league provides, this year was the first time that the Sectional Championships were put on by USTA NorCal. “Bill Hansen and I started doing de facto Sectionals for the 7.0 men about 3-4 years ago,” Jerry Machle, Captain of two sectionals teams, explained. “We are very appreciative that USTA did that for us this year. DeDee did a great job of making this a real sectional for the first time.”
But no matter what their age is, their competitive side will always come out on the court. “We beat Napa 3-0 the first day, and we lost 2-1 to the other Sunnyvale team, so on the final day, we were all tied,” Hayes recalled. “We won 2-1 against Round Hill and Napa had to beat Sunnyvale, so we thought we were done. All we could do was wait,” Hayes laughed. In the end, Napa beat the other Sunnyvale team captained by Jerry Machle, giving Hayes’ team the title of section champion. “We won by one individual matches as the other Sunnyvale team had won two of their matches 2-1.”
Congratulations to these very inspirational players who continue to prove that tennis is an inclusive and lifelong sport. See you next year!