MIXED 18 9.0 TEAM WINS
December 14, 2018
With a team name like HighRoller$ you might think that the Mixed 18 & Over 9.0 team from Leesburg, Va., is all about leaving their tennis strategy to chance and fate, you know just rolling the dice. This mixed doubles team was crowned National Champions at the USTA League Mixed 18 & Over National Championships held at the Copeland-Cox Tennis Center in Mobile, Alabama last month. One conversation with long-time team captain Vinnie Khera will have you thinking otherwise.
“Trust is the number one reason for our success,” says Khera. “Trust as a captain, trust as players, trust in each other is what makes our team so special. And the fact that our team friendships are number one and then tennis makes the friendships better!”
Khera has been playing league tennis for nine years and has been captaining teams since 2011. ADVERTISEMENT During this time, he and his HighRoller$ teams of varying NTRP levels have been no strangers to League Nationals, experiencing both the joys of winning and the pains of losing on the big stage. This depth of experience along with tight friendships – many of the players returning season after season – also is credited as being a factor in building trust among his team and giving that special edge that helped them achieve on court.
And achieve they did, but not without some bumps along the way – and ironically some twists of fate. On the first day of matches, an injury in warm-ups to one of his key players had Khera juggling his lineup and subbing in a player at the last minute. With three team wins and one loss, they were uncertain how far they would go, but decided together to push hard and stay focused. They squeaked into the semifinals in fourth place having lost just two sets less than a team from the Northern Section.
Here’s where Khera said he let trust and experience guide him. As he approached his plan for the semifinals he recalled his past experiences at Nationals and the amount of overthinking done on the lineups. “I said, you know what, I am not going to overthink it. I am going to trust in myself and players and let the other team overthink it this time!” In fact, he even swapped in a different partner for himself and the strategy resulted in a 2-1 win.
They continued to battle through defeating a team from Missouri Valley 2-1 in the semifinals and found themselves in the finals facing a team from Kingsport-Bristol, Tenn. The tension mounted as the HighRoller$ number one doubles went down 6-2, 6-4, but the number three doubles was victorious 6-1, 6-4. The National Championship title came down to the team’s number two doubles which headed into a third-set tie breaker to clench the victory and National title.
“This was by far, the standout moment of the entire trip to National’s,” says Khera. “Seeing my good friends play a flawless tie-break with heart and strength; they really wanted it and went for it. And with the whole team there lined up by the fence cheering them on – of course, the loudest of anyone there – it was beautiful!”
Although he has had the experience of attending USTA League National Championships before, Khera says the feeling never gets old and is proud to represent the Mid-Atlantic Section.
“It is an amazing feeling to represent Mid-Atlantic,” he says. “You go to Nationals knowing that you are there representing everyone and you want to do well for them and yourself. It is a good feeling because we all love the game.”
The HighRoller$ team features: Laura Smith, Elizabeth Vermillion, Hayley Hughes Brick, Vivek Hariharan, Chris Downs, Hillary Kuker, Lydy Pinzon, Erin Green, Kyla Walgren, Taimi Ando, William Stern, Verna Flemming, Stephen Woody, Krista Babyak, Matt Stillwagon, Lauren Smyczek, Brandon Wozniczka and Justin Cady.
If you’re ready to experience the fun and excitement that league tennis has to offer, check out more about playing in USTA Leagues in the Mid-Atlantic. Winter leagues are getting in swing so it is a great time to get on court to make friends, memories, and shots that’ll last a lifetime. View the local calendar or reach out to us and we’ll help you get on a team.