USTA St. Louis District Champions Crowned
Several local teams earned bids to the USTA Missouri Valley Section Championships by winning their flights at the 2021 Adult 18 & Over St. Louis District Championships.
Heat played a major factor during the weekend of June 18-20 when the men’s 3.0, 3.5, 4.0 and 4.5 — as well as the women’s 4.5 — were in the spotlight at Dwight Davis Tennis Center. And on June 25-27, inclement weather forced a bevy of venue adjustments for the top area women’s squads at 2.5, 3.0, 3.5 and 4.0.
But courtesy of some grit and toughness from players the opening weekend and advanced planning the latter weekend, the event went super smoothly and all matches were completed. That includes a remarkable 234 matches the weekend of June 25-27. Jill Kunkel, USTA St. Louis adult league coordinator, said sets didn’t need to be shortened as matches were able to be played in full.
“It went great. I have an amazing team of volunteers, and the USTA St. Louis staff just stepped in and made sure all league players had a very positive experience,” Kunkel said. “Players were very flexible in knowing where to go. They showed up on time. It was really a good experience for these folks who worked so hard to make it to district championships. I’m really glad we were able to provide that for them.”
Men’s teams and women’s 4.5 teams battled through hot temperatures at Dwight Davis, with Kunkel noting there were zero retirements and zero significant injuries. The Rhoads/Brandt team at 3.0 and the Rhoads/Gregerson team at the 3.5 level captured District titles. The Nosic/O’Neill squad (4.0) and Hartig/Rigby team (4.5) likewise claimed district championships to earn section championship bids.
The second-place team of Brewer at 4.0 collected a wild card to also pin down a spot at the section championships. Kunkel said that’s the only non-championship team thus far from USTA St. Louis to pick up a wild-card slot. On the women’s ledger that opening weekend, the 4.5-level Spencer squad took the title.
On weekend two, Kunkel mapped out an indoor schedule alternative that came in handy when the inclement weather rolled through St. Louis. Several matches were shifted to indoor sites, with the venues of Dwight Davis, Woodsmill Tennis Club, Forest Lake Tennis Club, Creve Coeur Racquet Club, Frontenac Racquet Club and Chesterfield Athletic Club hosting various matches throughout the weekend.
The Rhoads/Shadrach 2.5 team and Rhoads/Woods 3.0 team won their respective district championships. At 3.5, the Blake/Cody squad won its flight. And the Fridley team at the 4.0 level earned a shot at the section championships with its district title.
Both weekends, teams competed in a full round-robin format to determine the champions. After team scores were calculated, individual matches were utilized to break any ties. If necessary, the final tiebreaker was head-to-head results.
“I would say probably the majority or maybe all of them did go down to the final matches,” Kunkel said. “It was very, very close. Everyone competed very well — very tight competition. It came down to individual courts when they had the same record, which a lot of them did. We had to make the deciding winner by individual matches.”
Kunkel said several players shouted “We’re going to sectionals! We’re going to sectionals!” in excitement after securing District titles. One team brought a huge bottle of champagne to celebrate. The 4.0 Fridley women’s team featured a 70-year-old player who stated, according to Kunkel, “Oh my god, I’ve never made it to sectionals. I’m so excited.”
Also played the weekend of June 18-20 was the USTA St. Louis Adult 55 & Over women’s 7.0 playoffs. The Blake/Cody squad won that event and booked its ticket to the Section Championships for that division.
In Adult 18 & Over play, the USTA Missouri Valley Section Championships will take place in St. Louis August 5-8 for 3.0, 4.0 and 5.0. The 2.5, 3.5 and 4.5 district champs, meanwhile, advanced to the sectional championships in Oklahoma City August 19-23.
“We’re just really super excited to have wrapped it up,” Kunkel said. “And we know who our teams are that are advancing to represent St. Louis.”
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