Preparing for League Nationals
Karen Snyder's 40 & Over 3.0 Women's team will represent USTA Missouri Valley at USTA League Nationals in Surprise, Arizona on October 22-24. We spoke with Snyder about her team and their Road to Nationals.
Tell us about your team.
We all became friends in tennis classes and drills at Elite Tennis and Wellness in Overland Park, Kan. over the last three years. We started playing on teams as doubles partners and enjoyed playing tennis together so we just kept forming teams and became good friends on and off the court. We have 14 regular season players, with 11 of the 14 players competing at sectionals and 9 of the 14 regular season players headed to Arizona to compete at Nationals. Outside of tennis our players wear many other hats: mom, wife, two lawyers, real estate broker and two realtors, physical therapist, former professional singer/songwriter, decorator, Elementary Principal, HR Consultant, Marketing CEO, Contract Negotiator and Club Volley Ball coach and mortgage broker. Four of us own and run our own businesses.
Most of our team has played together on various other USTA and local competitive teams for the last three years. We have been coached by the tennis pros at Elite Tennis and Wellness, led by Mike Wolf, who taught us to develop not only the technical skills required to play good tennis but also court positioning, match strategy, how to run plays and mental toughness. In addition to the weekly drills and classes at Elite, our team consists of athletes who are focused, calm, with a positive mental attitude so we are prepared for anything. If it is windy, we tell ourselves we love the wind. If we miss a shot, we tell ourselves we will get the next one. If we lose we learn from that too. Most of all we try to be good sports, and, win or lose we are on the court to play well and have fun with our friends.
What was your experience like at sectionals?
This was our team’s first time at sectionals and, as a wild card, we decided to focus on playing our best tennis and having fun. The three day six match tournament delivered extreme heat and humidity, tested the limits of our endurance and was pretty much a tennis marathon. But, we loved it! It was great to see how much we could do with all the challenges and so fun to meet the other teams and players from around our region. It was a truly memorable weekend.
Our Championship final match was extremely close! We were tied with the local Tulsa team two wins each so our championship win came down to one set difference in our favor on the last doubles court to finish. Both were finished and watching that match knowing it would determine the winner of the championship.
One other memorable moment is right before sectionals, I had the chance to watch Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Iga Swiatek play doubles at the Western and Southern Open. And, Bethanie was kind enough to give our team a few seconds of video encouragement telling us she “wanted to see us crossing at the net and she hopes to hear a good report.” This encouragement to our players really pumped up our team for sectionals. We listened, Bethanie!
What are your plans for Nationals?
Our plans for Nationals are to enjoy the experience. We know we will meet players from across the country who love tennis as much or more than we do. We plan to have fun as a team and represent USTA Missouri Valley well knowing we have worked hard and are ready to go. Just getting a bid to Nationals feels like we have already won.
As captain, it takes a lot of organization to get the team pulled together to head to Arizona. We have nine players going and it will be a reunion with one of our teammates who happened to move to Scottsdale this summer. We warned her we might be coming to visit and it turns out we are! We have coordinated practices and drills each week with our pros at Elite. And, one team drill with Mike Wolf each week leading up to Nationals.
Our team is thrilled we get to go to USTA Nationals. It changes things to have a goal. Every player is training harder, practicing with intention and getting ready to play to the best of our abilities. We feel lucky to get to train under Mike Wolf and the excellent Pros Nick Hegarty, Sal Barbaro, John Shaw and others at Elite. We are trying to honor all the training they have given us by putting in the work on the court and showing them that we have been listening to all their great instruction.