New England Leaves It
All On The Court In Vegas
James Maimonis, Communications and Engagement Coordinator | October 28, 2018
LAS VEGAS, NV- With both New England 40 & Over 4.0 teams owning a 1-1 record going into Saturday's final two USTA League Nationals matches, Captains Lee Dupre and Jonathan Han knew their teams had to go undefeated and get a little luck from tiebreakers in order to advance to Sunday’s semifinal. In almost identical fashion, the former held true for both teams, however they both found themselves on the wrong side of tiebreakers, leaving both looking up at the top four in the standings. The women finished in fifth, while the men came in sixth.
Dupre’s team, from Lakeville Athletic Club in Lakeville, MA, completed the Sunday sweep, defeating both Florida and Midwest. Lakeville beat Florida, 4-1, thanks to singles wins from Mary Bourque and Elizabeth Straub and doubles victories by Dupre and sister Greta Fox and the pair of Amy Gad and Cheryl Olivadesa.ADVERTISEMENT
Against Midwest, New England saw itself in a 2-2 tie thanks to Bourque’s win at No. 1 singles and a No. 1 doubles win from Straub and Alicia Stansbury. The result came down Dupre and Fox, who were locked in an unfamiliar situation, as they lost the first set of their match, the first they dropped all weekend.
But the relentless sisters fought back to take the second set, 6-2 and force a third-set supertiebreak. With both teams and friends and family watching anxiously as day turned to night, New England pulled away to win the set, 10-6.
“We left it all out on the court this weekend,” Dupre said. “We certainly worked for every point, and mentally all the ladies were real tough. We pulled out some big tiebreakers that turned matches around, and I’m proud of them.”
From there, all New England could do was wait and see, as they were competing with their match one opponent, Pacific Northwest, for the fourth place spot. PNW won their final match, 3-2, bumping their overall record to 3-1 and identical position record as New England at 12-8. New England came up just short however, as PNW finished with two fewer set losses.
“It was a little disappointment and a lot of would’ve, could’ve should’ves, but honestly, we were just so proud of ourselves. You can’t go back and replay things, and looking where we were and realizing we were one of the best teams in the country was amazing,” Dupre said. “You don’t realize how much pressure there is until you get out there and you don’t want to let everyone in your corner down, so I’m extremely proud of these women for their how strong they stayed out there.”
Dupre and Fox each finished the weekend 4-0. They played three doubles matches together and one each with different partners. Straub and Stansbury each went unbeaten as well. The duo went 3-0 as the No. 1 doubles pairing while Straub’s singles win put her at 4-0. Bourque also went 3-1 in the top singles spot.
“I was really happy with how well I played, but I’ve worked really hard for this. I’ve played almost every day and I’ve gone to practice. If you ask my family what I do, they’ll tell you tennis. I just wanted to be ready for this. I didn’t want to have any regrets,” Dupre said.
On the men’s side, the Slammers, from Enfield Tennis Club in Enfield, CT, displayed the ultimate do-or-die attitude. With their semifinal hopes on the line, Han and his team discussed winning both Sunday matches 5-0 to give them the best chance to advance.
The Slammers did the next best thing, as they won 4-1 in both. Against Eastern, Toby Coffin won the No. 2 singles position while the three doubles pairings swept. Han and Mike Freedman took the top singles spot, while Dito Vazquez/Daniel Torres and TJ Megas/Rolly Ciocca took the final two.
In the team’s second match against Northern California, Sam Ho headlined New England’s win with the comeback of the ages. Trailing a set after dropping the first 0-6 and looking like things were only getting worse, Ho talked himself into changing up his game.
“He really understood his opponent’s style and realized he wasn’t going to win the way he was playing,” Han said. “He completely changed his game from powerful baseliner to complete serve and volleyer and exploited his opponent’s weaknesses. It was the most incredible heart and desire I’ve seen in a match.”
Ho came back to take the second set 6-3 and then the third-set supertiebreak, 10-6.
Freedman took care of the second singles spot, winning 6-1, 6-0, while Vazquez/Torres continued their dominant run at No. 2 doubles and Jay Kimmel and Larry Eagan secured the third spot.
“At the end of the matches, we were 12-8 so we knew a couple things needed to break our way. The reality was we were hoping for sixth and not fifth because that would’ve stung a bit more. But to say you’re the sixth best team at Nationals, that’s pretty special,” Han said.
New England finished in a four-way tie for the fourth semifinal spot, but were passed by Middle States and Caribbean, which each ended with a position record of 13-7.
Vazquez and Torres finished the weekend at 4-0, while Han went 3-0. Freedman went unbeaten in singles (2-0) and compiled a 3-1 overall record.
“Playing with Dan, you don’t really feel any pressure. He tries to always keep it light on the court,” Vazquez said. “He positions himself so well that anyone can play with him and come out victorious. He’s a calming factor no matter what happens and it’s just a pleasure to play with him. We could’ve played a little better, but I can’t really complain going 4-0 at a National Championship.”
“Everyone played great given the circumstances,” Han said. “This was out first time at Nationals and we didn’t know what the level of competition would be. We had our sights on competing and thought we had a real chance right rom the get go. We lost three supertiebreaks in the match we lost, and if a couple of points went our way, it would’ve been a different result.”
USTA League housed around 320,000 players in 2018, with just 6,000 reaching a Nationals event. Both New England teams were extremely grateful to be in that 2 percent, and at the end of they weekend, they proved to everyone they belong with the best of the best.
Read Friday's recap here.
To see full results from the 40 & Over 4.0 National Championships in Las Vegas, click here.