Missouri Valley / Heart Of America

USTA Heart of America League Teams Heading to Nationals

Sydney Hamilton | September 28, 2022

Over the past three months, USTA League teams from across our district have been bringing their A-game as they compete in their respective divisions during the USTA Missouri Valley League Section Championships. This is a big deal, as teams that win advance to the USTA National Championships, taking place all over the country.


We’re thrilled to share with you that several teams from USTA Heart of America took top honors at their Section Championship tournaments and have punched their tickets to Nationals! Keep reading to learn more about which teams will be representing our district.


Team Bennett, a 7.0 Women’s team, and Team Jackson, a 9.0 Men’s team, won out during the USTA Missouri Valley 65 & Over Invitational in July. Both teams will head to Surprise, AZ to compete at Nationals, with Team Bennett hitting the courts in January 2023 and Team Jackson playing for their title in February 2023.

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Two teams from our district advanced to the 18 & Over National Championships by winning their divisions at the USTA Missouri Valley Section Championships that took place in early August: 4.0 Women’s squad Team Norman and 5.0 Women’s team Team Chao. Both teams will battle for the top spot at Nationals when they head to Arizona later this month; Team Norman plays October 14-16 in Surprise and Team Chao plays October 21-23 in Scottsdale.


Three teams from USTA Heart of America are representing us in the 40 & Over National Championships: 3.5 Women’s team, Team Vitha, 4.0 Women’s team, Team Valdez, which play October 7-9, and 4.5 Men’s Team, Team Allen, which will play October 14-16. The 3.5 team will play in Scottsdale, Ariz. and the 4.0 and 4.5 teams will play in Oklahoma City, Okla.


Last, but certainly not least, are our two teams headed to compete in the 55 & Over National Championships, Team Jacelone and Team Karnowski. Both teams will be playing at the USTA National Campus in Orlando. I was able to connect with both captains–Marcia Jacelone and Dixie Karnowski–and they both had some creative odes to share about their teams.

Marcia Jacelone shared the following poem with me:


Angles and volleys and lobs, oh my!

The road to finish won’t pass us by!

We’ll hit & drink & talk all the while

Making our mark with grace & style!


Flatlanders:  you underestimate our force

To go the distance with no recourse.

We jump, we run, a touch, a slam

We might get caught on the tennis Cam!


A trophy is fine if that’s what you’re after...

Success defines us in FUN & laughter.

Teamwork & Friendship builds on the way

Lead us to the next court we will play!


The tiebreaks we play to secure the WINS

Our teammates cheering on needles & pins!

MO Valley to Orlando we’ll travel one & all

The National Title destiny’s our call!


And Dixie Karnowski shared with me a poem of her own:


It was the summer of ‘22

The Dixie's Chicks were back and 

Ohhhh what a crew


The season was strange with very few matches 

The other captain was mad and defaulted in batches 


But the chicks prevailed and won the short season 

It was a big mess but gave us more reason 


To practice and practice and get our team fit

We headed to St. Louis keeping our wit


We dined on the hill and had pasta and wine

We had all day Friday to prepare… we knew we’d do fine


We beat Nebraska 2-1 in the heat at 3:30

Next lineup played at 7 prepared to get down and dirty 


We started Saturday 2-0 and tied for first place

We were NOT going to let St Louis beat us at this race 


We entered last match as the lone 3-0 winner 

It was so hot some players almost threw up their dinner


We won a lone court but that’s all it took 

To keep Nebraska and St Louis from being first in the book


Dixie's Chicks prevailed and proudly donned the flag 

To Orlando in October we got this in the bag!


Marcia also shared with me why her team earned the nickname “Heart Attack of America” during Section Championships:


“I was rushed to the hospital with major head pains. Turned out I had my first ocular migraine (losing my sight in one eye and severe pain) while playing the first match. My teammates were so worried! But they were able to win the next match that afternoon.


“On Saturday, we had a 7:30 a.m. match. I have always (captaining 36 teams to Sectionals) had two players on standby to sub just in case. The night before, I told the team we will be fine without subs because the match is so early. Never have I not had a back up! It must have been the drugs they gave me that morning for the migraine. I was not thinking!


“My four players and I arrived at Earlywine and rushed to get court 13 to warm up. I then get a call from Nancy stating that her and Deb are here warming up on court 1. I hung up and headed over to court 1, realizing they were not on the court. I started calling both players. This was at 7:10 a.m. and I was supposed to present my line up.


“They were at Will Rogers instead of Earlywine. Calling with no prevail, I finally contacted the front desk at Will Rogers courts and asked her to walk over to court 1 and ask the girls to answer their phone. Meanwhile, I was contacting the others at the hotel to see if one can arrive by 7:30 a.m. That was not going to happen. At 7:15 a.m., Nancy and Deb called me from Will Rogers. I told them to rush over to Earlywine as it was going to take them at least 10 to 15 minutes.”


“So, I approached the desk and stated, ‘I know I'm allowed to wait to get my lineup in until 7:30 a.m.’ and explained the situation. I put the girls on the third court. This would give them time before the clock starts. Sure enough, my girls arrived right when the coordinator called out their names! Everyone was on edge, the girls were scrambling to make sure we had six players going onto the court while the others were rushing to get to the court.


“Talk about having palpitations! It was nerve-wracking, but we ended up winning that match! If we had forfeit that court, we would have had to forfeit that court for the rest of Sectionals, thus putting a lot of pressure on the team. 


“This team will be going for the second time to the 55 & Over Nationals... Excitement, nerves, and friendships. This will be my 14th National tournament between USTA and WTT and I still get so excited like it is my first!”


Good luck to all teams and players! We’re rooting for you, and we know you’ll do great.




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