Eastern at the USTA League Tri-Level National Invitational
A little luck got them there, but they made sure to capitalize on their good fortune once they arrived. The Women’s 4.5, 4.0, 3.5 Tri-Level League team representing USTA Eastern placed fifth out of 13 teams at this year’s Tri-Level National Invitational, held March 5-7, 2021, in Surprise, Arizona. The group defeated squads from USTA New England, USTA Southwest and USTA Texas to record the respectable finish, ultimately losing out on a semifinal berth by just one match.
“The ladies did remarkably well against other teams from across the country,” said Seema Imberman, who served as the Long Island-based crew’s captain. “The team is made up of a wonderful group of women who are true competitors, both those who attended and also those who were unable to join us [in Surprise].”
Typically, League teams advance to National competition by capturing a Sectional championship. This year, due to COVID-19, USTA Eastern made the difficult decision to cancel the Tri-Level Sectional Championships, and section staff organized a lottery to determine who would get to make the trip to the Grand Canyon State.
“I have been fortunate to attend many Sectional competitions and now two National competitions,” Imberman said. “But some of my team members had never competed in Nationals and it could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them.”
Imberman notes that the best part of competing in the Invitational was not necessarily the wins, but witnessing the camaraderie and spirit of positivity among her teammates.
“My proudest moments were watching the women support each other,” she says. “The 4.5 players cheering on the 3.5 players at critical tie-breaker matches, the 3.5 and 4.0 women bringing over drinks and ice to the 4.5 women who were battling it out during an extremely intense match with Texas, the 4.0 women encouraging each other despite some losses. Support, dedication and team-mentality are the true elements that make up a successful team, and I am proud and lucky to captain a team that exhibits all these qualities.”
The Invitational was the first National USTA League event to be held since the COVID-19 pandemic upended the tennis schedule. Many preventative measures were put in place to ensure the safety of all participants, including temperature checks, mandatory mask use and social distancing. No spectators were allowed on the premises. Even with the more rigorous protocols, Imberman enjoyed every minute of the experience.
“I am thankful to the USTA for affording me and my team the opportunity to compete this year,” she said. “The last twelve months have been difficult and it was a welcome reprieve. It brings me real joy to meet people at different stages in their lives, at all ages, and from different parts of the country, who share a common love of the sport.”
A New Jersey-based Men’s 4.5, 4.0, 3.5 team also represented USTA Eastern at the Invitational, ultimately recording a ninth place finish.
Members of the USTA Eastern Women’s 4.5, 4.0, 3.5 Tri-Level team included (pictured, from left to right): Michelle Rothbort, Debbie Lavian, Jana Lindover, Lisa Mazzucco, Imberman, Jennifer Einhorn, Diane Klein and Jill Cohen.
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