Massachusetts team finishes second at USTA League Nationals
James Maimonis, Communications and Engagement Coordinator | October 25, 2017
ORLANDO, FL- It took three weekends, 13 teams before them and a traveling support section, but on Sunday, October 22, the first New England team finally broke through for a top-four finish at USTA League Nationals. Mary Williams and her 13 teammates on the Women’s 40 & Over 4.0 team from the Manchester Athletic Club in Manchester, MA, finished second at the National Championships at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, FL.
“Our goal at Nationals was to play hard and to enjoy every moment of it. We wanted both to prove that it wasn't a fluke that we were there,” Williams said.
The road to the National finals was anything but easy for the team from Manchester, or “The Shipwreckers,” as they called themselves throughout the tournament, as they clawed their way through Districts and Sectionals to reach their final destination. ADVERTISEMENT Each year, the team’s goal had been to make it to Sunday of the Eastern Massachusetts District Championships, and this year, thanks to 3-2 victories in every match including the finals, Manchester was able achieve that goal and more by reaching their first ever Sectional Championship.
After a wake up call in their first match at Sectionals in which they lost the first set in all three doubles positions, the team rallied back to take the match and ultimately sweep the flight, earning that cherished trip to Nationals.
Before the team even arrived home from Sectionals at Mount Holyoke College this summer, they made sure to lock in their flights and hotel rooms for October in Orlando. They booked for themselves and 19 dedicated family members and friends.
“All 14 qualified players were raring to go to Nationals, and within a day or so of winning Sectionals, we had four sets of parents, two husbands, nine children and young adults and some lifelong tennis friends committed to coming and cheering us on,” Williams said.
With the competition at an all-time high in one of the most competitive adult divisions, that support was the difference maker for the ladies from Manchester.
“Having such a great group of friends and family definitely helped us,” Williams said. “There were always a lot of smiles and high fives and that got us through the tough times. There is nothing like a proud parent cheering on their daughter or the sound of a child saying 'did mommy win that point?’”
Manchester got off to a hot start by opening flight play with a 5-0 drubbing against a team from Hawaii. Business picked up from there for “The Shipwreckers,” as critical matchups from Puerto Rico and Arizona loomed. New England got past Puerto Rico, 3-2, but fell short against Southwest, 2-3, in the final contest.
After each team had played three matches, New England, Puerto Rico and Arizona found themselves all at 2-1 with New England and Puerto Rico going 10-5 in position score. Thanks to the head-to-head record, New England edged out Puerto Rico to win the flight and advance to the semifinals.
“I checked the handbook rules and knew that since we were tied with the Caribbean at 10-5 we would just be the winner of our flight since we won our head-to-head matchup,” Williams said. “I told our team that I thought we had it, but it wasn't until the computer told us we had won our flight that we jumped up and down and rejoiced.”
In the semifinals, New England faced a team from Colorado that dominated its five-team flight (4-0). New England pulled out points in first and second doubles and second singles to clinch the match, 3-2.
“The Shipwreckers” came up just short in the finals against Texas, losing 2-3.
“We felt we fought to the bitter end. We played straight up and gave it all we had and we were proud of our result,” Williams said.
Six other New England teams also competed at the Nationals Championships throughout the same weekend. They are as follows:
18 & Over
Women’s 2.5- The Court Sharks, from Wentworth By The Sea Country Club, came up just short of advancing through flight play, as they finished second out of five teams in Mobile, AL. Nancy Hall and Kirsten Barton’s team went 3-1 in matches with a 7-5 position score. They picked up wins against teams from West Point, NY, Utah and the eventual flight winner, Memphis, TN. Memphis finished with a position record of 8-4.
Women’s 3.0- The Hot Shots, out of Farmington Valley Racquet Club in Weatogue, CT, finished fourth in their flight. They went 0-3 with a 3-12 position record in Surprise, AZ. The team was captained by Judi Levin.
Men’s 3.0- Phillip Green’s team from Rally Point Racquet Club in Greenville, RI competed in the Men’s 3.0 division in Surprise AZ. The squad finished 0-3 in their flight with a 4-11 position score.
40 & Over
Men’s 4.0- The men’s 40 & Over 4.0 team from the Four Seasons Racquet Club in Wilton, CT finished with a 0-3 record in Orlando, FL. Mark Lester’s team compiled a 5-10 position score, good for fourth place in the flight.
Women’s 4.5- Chance Fechtor and Marjorie Petruccelli let their 4.5 women’s team in Mobile, AL. The team finished fourth in the flight with an 0-3 record and 5-10 position score. The team plays out of Bass River Tennis Club in Beverly, MA.
Men’s 4.5- James Santoro and Lawrence Lebatique also led their Bass River team to Nationals. The squad finished third out of four teams in flight play in Mobile, AL compiling a 1-2 record and 7-8 in positions. In a tightly-contested flight, Indiana finished 9-6 in positions and Virginia went 8-7, both narrowly ahead of Bass River.
The next Nationals weekend will kick off on October 27, as 40 & Over 3.5 teams will compete in Fort Lauderdale, FL and 55 & Over 6.0 and 8.0 teams will compete in Orlando.