USTA Heart of America Tri-Level Team Heading to National Invitational
One of the great things about the USTA’s Tri-Level Leagues is the opportunity to advance to sectional championships, and even national championships. This year, USTA Heart of America had a representative, captained by Jody Holsinger, at the USTA League Tri-Level National Invitational.
Holsinger’s team did not qualify for the USTA Missouri Valley Sectional Championships through an automatic bid, instead going as a wild card and winning when it counted. They had to go through USTA Heart of America’s automatic qualifying team in the quarterfinal round, and then defeated the USTA Kansas team in the championship round to earn a bid to nationals.
“(The Kansas team) had beat us in pool play, but we put our best possible lineup together in the championship and squeaked it out,” Holsinger said. “It was a nail-biter, but we got it.”
This year, the USTA Heart of America’s Tri-Level league had 12 teams participating, by far the most in the league’s history. That gave teams a chance to see a variety of competition and made things interesting until the final day.
“In prior years there were only like three teams and you kind of knew what was going to happen at the end,” Holsinger said. “This year, we had 11 matches and it made for an exciting season because anybody can win or lose on a given day.”
The team traveled to Surprise, Ariz. March 5-7 for a chance to bring home a championship trophy. The team headed into the final day of play undefeated and finished out the tournament with an incredible fourth place finish.
It was not Holsinger’s first time at nationals, but it was her first chance at the Tri-Level National Invitational. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, this year’s tournament did not look the same as years past, but the team still loved the opportunity.
“It’s always fun to go and compete and see how good you are,” Holsinger said.
The team traveled with 12 people to Arizona, but only ten competed: Colti Callagy, Chriss Duntz, Robin Foderberg, Julie Gibson, Michelle Gifford, Holsinger, Tamara Hutcheson, Elizabeth Jarvis,Julie Kehrwald and Hillary Ann Peterson played. Gwyn Gifford and Shari Hockenbery ded not compete. Renee Steffes and Anh Vu also played with the team throughout the year. The group went down early and stayed for an extra day for a chance to soak up as much of the Arizona sun as possible.
“I’m excited because only three of us on the team have been to nationals before,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to sharing that experience with the new players that have never been. It’s just exciting to be there and meet people from all over.”