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How NorCal Adult League Teams are Coping Without Tennis During the Global Pandemic


As part of the larger USTA Northern California community, living without tennis in our daily lives has been a major struggle for many of us. Am I right? And because league play has been on a breif pause, we wanted to look back at all of the good times!

 

A USTA League National Championship title is what most league players strive for each year, along with the added social component. And for our NorCal teams, 2019 was a great year.

 

All of the teams from NorCal made us proud, and we had some especially hard-fought battles and impressive wins with three of our very own taking home the national championship glory. And since league play has been postponed until 2021, we caught up with our winning captains and fellow league players to relive their journey to becoming national champions and pick their brains on how they are coping without league tennis during the pandemic. We know it’s not the same, but here’s to hoping this trip down memory helps you smile and start preparing for next year!

 

 

 

Reaching a Goal for the Women's Adult 55 & Over 7.0 Team

 

Janelle Schultz has been captain of the Women's Adult 55 & Over 7.0 team out of Sacramento for several years and has always made it a goal to reach nationals. After almost giving up hope, the team finally made their mark and achieved that goal in 2019.  

 

“It was a long road. The local league season was very strong, so we felt lucky to get the bid for nationals,” said Janelle. “We had some big battles along the way, but we had practiced a lot and we found the right partnerships and combos.”

 

However, Janelle remembered it wasn’t always easy to find the right combination and strategy. “What looks good on paper is not always what translates on court, so it took a lot of effort and timing to find the right matches,” she added. 

 

With 13 people from the team making the trip to nationals, Janelle even decided to make a couple of last minute switches. The risk was worth it, and the team had a whirlwind weekend and won the national title, defeating Hawaii 3-0 in the finals.

 

Reaching a Goal for the Women's Adult 55 & Over 7.0 Team

 

Janelle Schultz has been captain of the Women's Adult 55 & Over 7.0 team out of Sacramento for several years and has always made it a goal to reach nationals. After almost giving up hope, the team finally made their mark and achieved that goal in 2019.  

 

With 13 people from the team making the trip to nationals, the team had a whirlwind weekend and won the national title, defeating Hawaii 3-0 in the finals.

 

“It was a long road. The local league season was very strong, so we felt lucky to get the bid for nationals,” said Janelle. “We had some big battles along the way, but we had practiced a lot and we found the right partnerships and combo.”

 

Janelle remembered it wasn’t always easy to find the right combination and strategy. “What looks good on paper is not always what translates on court, so it took a lot of effort and timing to find the right matches,” she added. 

 

 

The NorCal Women's Adult 55 & Over 7.0 Team Posing as the 2019 USTA National Championship Winners

With 13 people from the team making the trip to nationals, Janelle even decided to make a couple of last-minute switches. The risk was worth it, and the team had a whirlwind weekend and won the national title.

 

“Ultimately, it meant so much to everyone and it was really a collaborative team effort with all of us motivated to work toward our end goal,” said Janelle.

 

Riding high from reaching their ultimate goal, Janelle already had a new team ready to go for the 2020 season and was excited to do a repeat of the previous season. Due to rules, only three members of the original winning team are able to stay on the team, including Janelle who decided to stay on as captain, but she had many new recruits eager to join the reigning champs. 

 

Several of the team members celebrating a victory


Although plans for a new team were in place, Janelle was looking forward to planning a reunion tournament for the winning team to get together, play a tournament with mini prizes, and re-celebrate what they accomplished when the Coronavirus hit.

 

“While I had to put a pause on my plans for a reunion, several of the players have been able to stay in touch throughout the quarantine,” said Janellle.

 

Some players have been able to safely continue their Saturday get together for round robin tennis, while others have been able to meet up on a regular basis and play in foursomes.

 

In a time when staying connected to our communities is more important than ever, Janelle plans on using some of the lessons learned so far to safely play tennis during the quarantine. She also has her sights set on a social distancing get together in the fall so the team can share in the fun memories from last year, and most importantly, participate in the sport that brought them all together in the first place.

 

 

 

A Cinderella Story for the Women’s Adult 18 & Over 3.0 Team

 

Out of San Francisco, the team from Olympic Club in the Women’s Adult 18 & Over 3.0 league, was a relatively young team, both in terms of playing together and playing tennis in general and at the USTA. Captained by Caitlin Beatty, the 15-person team featured many players whose primary sport was not tennis but were excited to try a new sport. 

 

After playing together for two seasons, all of the right cards fell into place in 2019 and helped them on their journey to nationals, and ultimately win it all.

 

However, the road was not always easy Caitlin shared. “We are in a competitive league, so the regular season was actually tough competition for us. From there, we had two intense local league playoffs, but made it to districts.”

 

And while a couple of injuries almost led to the end of their season, they pushed through and made it to sectionals. After coming down to a tiebreaker at sectionals, the team was officially off to compete for the national title.

 

This was the first time for all of us going to a national event for tennis,” said Caitlin. “We had never played round robin, so that was a new experience for us. But with each win, we got more confident and trusted we had the pieces we needed.”

The NorCal Women's Adult 18 & Over 3.0 Team Posing as the 2019 USTA National Championship Winners

 

The San Francisco-based team faced another good opponent in the finals, but they stayed strong with an impressive 3-2 victory against the Intermountain Section to claim the title.


Coming off a winning season, Caitlin was ready to keep that momentum alive in 2020. Just as the pandemic hit, Caitlin was in the process of recruiting and reconfiguring the team for the upcoming season. While the team was ready for changes headed into 2020, they weren’t ready for the pause on tennis. 

 

“It has been tough for many of us to stay involved in tennis since the courts in San Francisco have been closed a lot longer than in other places,” Caitlin said. “As a team, we are part of a larger community through the Olympic Club and play other sports together, so we have been able to stay in touch outside of the court.”

 

And now that the Olympic Club has opened back up for singles, several of the team members get together for singles practice to stay active and are excited to play as much as they can.

 

Despite the uncertainty 2020 brings, Caitlin says the team is coping by looking forward to the return of play, coming off a great national win ready to tackle the next higher level, and even playing on new teams.

 

But until that happens, Caitlin joked this only makes the team the defending champs for another year.


Gaining Momentum Each Year for the Mixed 18 & Over 9.0 Team

 

From couples and college buddies to a mom and son, the Mixed 18 & Over 9.0 team from San Francisco captained by Tiffany Lam share special bonds that go beyond tennis. For four years, the team has been competing together, improving its results each year. Their first year they made the playoffs. The second year they made it out of districts. The third year they reached sectionals. So in their fourth year together, it only made sense they made it to nationals.

 

Overcoming a tough regular season and a close sectionals, where Tiffany said the team was down on all three courts at one point, the team managed a comeback to make it to the next level. 

 

While the team initially considered not making the long trip to nationals, they were excited to reach the highest level and Tiffany gave the 10 players who went to the tournament equal playing time in the round robin so everyone could experience playing nationals. The strategy paid off by the finals, and the team swept Pacific North West out of contention in a 3-0 win.

The NorCal Mixed Adult 18 & Over 3.0 Team Posing as the 2019 USTA National Championship Winners

 

And because the team is close knit, once they got home, they were already working on a solution to play together and continue hosting practices over the summer playing doubles on Monday nights to stay in touch, keep active, and socialize after.

 

 

The Team at a Monday Practice

 

“This year has been tough because we have such a great family vibe to our team. We all look forward to practicing over the summer together, but we were unable to do that this year,” said Tiffany. However, “We have been able to get together and play tennis safely in smaller groups since a lot of us live together.”

 

Tiffany also shared that one of the ways they make tennis work under social distancing is by playing on separating courts and catching up at a safe distance. The team also swaps tips on how to stay active in tennis during the pandemic.

 

“We let each other know about courts that aren’t too crowded, if there are courts that you need to reserve ahead of time, and keep each other up to date on the regulations as they develop and change,” Tiffany added. “We also have a few players who played in college who have set routines and drills and they will share them with the rest of the team.”

 

Since COVID-19 has left USTA league play at a standstill, the Mixed 18 & Over 9.0 champs plan on going with the flow and look forward to the day when they can play together again. Because at the end of the day, they just want to get out there and do the thing they all love - playing tennis.