Middle States, Texas
Crowned Champs in 18 & OVER 5.0+
Victoria Chiesa | October 7, 2019
October marks pumpkin season for some, and a spooky season for others, but for the USTA Leagues, it's trophy season: the 2019 slate of national championships kicked off over the weekend of Oct. 4-6.
At the Darling Tennis Center in Las Vegas, the women's team from the Middle States section and the men's team from Texas came away with championship crowns after each team won its final match by a 2-1 score.
Though each winning team lost the singles match in the grand finale, the squads earned victory by winning two doubles matches, with a match tiebreak at No. 2 doubles going in favor of each of the eventual champions.
Captained by Ellah Nze and based out of the Penn Tennis Center in Philadelphia, the Middle States women's team also included Yulia Bolotova, Mary Coleman, Alexis Dorr, Paloma Escobedo, Lindsey Kayati, Roxanna Pourmirzaie, Phumvadee Wangtrakuldee, Genevieve Wurtz, Chelsie Yacks and Denisa Zobeideh.ADVERTISEMENT
Nze's team also needed a deciding tiebreak at No. 2 doubles to win its semifinal match over Lisa Steinback's team from USTA NorCal, as Dorr and Yacks earned the victory for Philly's finest. In the final, Dorr partnered with Bolotova to rally from set down and beat Carol Lang and Shannon Young from captain Callie Draelos' team out of northern New Mexico and USTA Southwest to pull the team even, as Escobedo and Nze delivered what was ultimately the clinching point.
"Paloma and I knew the match was coming down to us," said Nze, "and knowing we were so close gave us extra motivation to stay positive and play with a lot of energy. Mary Coleman did a great job of staying in her singles match while we were playing.
“This win is extra special because everyone on this team is not only a teammate but a colleague or a friend. It was a total team effort this weekend and everyone played a role in this victory.
"Alexis and Chelsie won 11-9 in a thrilling match tiebreak versus NorCal in the semifinals to send us into the championship match. We lost the first set on all three courts in the final, but we had great energy to change the momentum and come back.
"Alexis and Yulia were the first to win in a match tiebreak which propelled Paloma and me to give it our all and win 10-8 in the match tiebreak to clinch the national championship title.
"Thank you to the USTA Philadelphia District and Middle States section office for their support. We’re super excited to bring home the title to our home courts in Philadelphia, the University of Pennsylvania’s Hecht Tennis Center.”
The Texas men's squad, captained by Jeff Jannasch, boasted a perfect 8-0 record this season en route to making it to Nevada. At the national championship site, however, the team was pushed to the brink, and also needed to win both of its matches after losing the singles flight.
Both the semifinal and final matches saw a final set at second doubles, with the team beating Fredrik Skoglund's squad from Montgomery County, Md., in the semifinals and Tommy Beecher's team from North Carolina and the Southern section in the final.
Jannasch's team, based out of the Southlake Tennis Center, was also made up of Carlos Aguilar, Nick Buoni, Kyle Davidson, Joseph Hattrup, Johann Jooste, Dawid Kuczer, Leif Meineke, Caden Moortgat, Cameron Nash, Zoltan Papp, Peter Saunders, Mario Toledo and Daniel Vejman.
"Winning the National Championship for our team was something we set our sights on two years ago, and seeing it through was incredible," said Jannasch.
"This team practiced and trained very hard for each other. No one wanted to let the others down when we were preparing. The commitment from everyone was amazing. Most importantly, the incredible bond we developed along the way is what allowed us to pull this out in the end."