Southern Women, Caribbean Men
Win 40 & Over Nationals in Orlando
Victoria Chiesa | October 21, 2019
The first USTA League national champions to be crowned at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla. this year represented the Caribbean and Southern sections in the 40 & Over 3.0 divisions.
Co-captains Luis Sanchez and Carlos Garcia led the Puerto Rican men's team to a perfect 4-0 record ahead of the semifinal round, in which they went 18-2 overall and lost just eight sets.
The crew was nearly perfect in the knockout rounds as well, going a combined 9-1 across the two matches. The Caribbean team scored a 5-0 victory over the squad representing the Intermountain section in the semifinals, with all five victories coming in straight sets.
That advanced them to the final against Danny Thompson's team from north Mississippi and the Southern section, where they swept all three doubles matches en route to recording an overall 4-1 victory to win the championship.ADVERTISEMENT
Their roster also consisted of Luis Melendez-Fox, Eduardo Almodovar, Rafael Silverio, Nestor Munoz Santiago, Fernando Rodriguez-Flores, Manuel Enrique Roca, Anndy Senatus Jean, Douglas Pennock, Samuel Monge, Ramon Rivera, Francisco Millan and Jorge Mau-asam.
On the women's side, captain Hilary Toon's team out of the Rock Hill Tennis Center in South Carolina were similarly dominant in their first four matches, but earned a pair of thrilling 3-2 victories in the semifinal and final to ultimately take the title.
Undaunted by rain in the middle of the schedule that moved matches indoors, a pair of contrasting singles victories helped the Southern team earn victory in the semifinal round against the team representing the Middle States section.
No.1 singles player Heather Crysler dropped just two games in a 6-1, 6-1 win, before Heather Lasala battled in a pair of sets split by 7-5, 6-7 scores, and eventually won in a match tiebreak.
In the final, Crysler once again cruised, with a 6-1, 6-0 win at the top singles spot over Wei Wang from the Midwest section, and the Southern team earned two more doubles victories against the team from Carmel, Ind. to seal the win overall.
In addition to the aforementioned players, the winning team's roster was made up of Pamela Faile, Lori Huechtker, Amy Wiethoff, Wendy Clendening, Tracey Loughlin-Young, Kristine Predmore, Julie Williams, Nancy Moll, Karen Garland, Roxanne Lamm, Jennifer Gluff and Kelley Conrad.
"Our experience as players at the USTA National Campus was such a thrilling experience and one we are not soon to forget," said Moll, the team's co-captain. "We had high expectations coming in to Nationals – because we were prepared and pumped for the opportunity. The rain on Saturday and the change of schedule took us a bit by surprise–but we kept swinging, knowing that every match, every game, every point matters.
"It was so great to meet ladies just like us from around the country who enjoy this game as much as we do. We are beyond excited that we earned the champions title!"