Defending 6.0 champs take
rare path to success
Ricky Martinez | November 13, 2016
TUCSON, Ariz. – The returning 6.0 mixed doubles defending national champions have one of the more unique programs in the nation – they don’t see themselves as a team or even a program, but a group of weekend warriors.
“Tennis has become our main social outlet,” said Christina Leary. “We have all become really close friends through the sport. Not only do we love tennis together, but we also socialize and do other activities outside of tennis together. This year, we rented a house instead of getting a hotel and everyone loved the idea. We get to bond and share more time together than we would have if we had stayed in a hotel.”
The band of weekend warriors have no tennis facility they call home. All they have is the pair of tennis courts within the community that they can reserve, and the occasional 30-40 person seminar. ADVERTISEMENT
Team members say Chris and Jessica Lee are a huge proponent of the operation. They rent out local indoor tennis facilities every month or so to hold the seminars, which can run up to six hours.
“It’s kind of random. We don’t really have a set practice place,” Leary said. “A good number of us are from a neighborhood called Maple Lawn, and we utilize those facilities.”
The Maple Lawn community in Howard Lawn, Md., lies in between Washington, D.C., and Baltimore and is just moments away from Columbia, Md. While the neighborhood features a broad array of amenities – including a large pool, kiddie pool, a grass area big enough to hold a small concert, picnic pavilion, formal garden, multipurpose courts – the tennis courts have been the main resource for the 2016 USTA 6.0 mixed doubles champions.
“For us, once we started playing tennis, we got to recruiting other players within our community,” Leary continued. “For us, every year if feels like we have gotten bigger and have formed more teams that compete in the USTA.”
In addition, the community’s mixed 7.0 team made the trip across the country last week to compete in Nationals. The 7.0 team came just shy of winning it all, placing second in the competition. While the 6.0 team has done this before, team members feel it provides the edge they need.
“I feel like because we have played so many post season matches,” Leary ssaid, “and Nationals, we definitely have an edge. We’ve been there, we’ve played those big matches. If it is your first time in a nationals match, there is a lot of noise in your head. Half of tennis is mental, and having that edge is half the battle.”