55 & Over Teams Advance To Nationals
James Maimonis, Communications and Engagement Coordinator | August 1, 2018
WOBURN, MA- Six more USTA New England League teams punched their tickets to the National Championships, as Adult 55 & Overs competed at Sectionals from July 27-29 north of Boston. Sixty teams across six NTRP levels vied for their chance to represent New England on the national stage at Bass River Tennis Club, Winchester Indoor Lawn Tennis Center and Woburn Racquet Club.
Teams from Farmington Valley Racquet Club, Longfellow Tennis and Health Club, Bass River, Waltham Athletic Club, WestFit Clubs and Pond View Racquet Club all came away victorious on Sunday in Woburn.
Adult 55 & Over Nationals will be held in October at USTA’s National Campus in Orlando. The 6.0 and 8.0 levels will be from October 19-21 while the 7.0 and 9.0 championships will be from October 26-28.
Read about the wining teams:
The ladies from the Waltham United Seniors, out of Waltham Athletic Club in Waltham, MA are regulars at Nationals. With every player advancing to at least one Nationals on different teams since 2012, another appearance at the pinnacle of USTA League tennis in 2018 appeared inevitable.
Gail Warden and Sally Kellogg led the charge as co-captains competing in a two-team best-of-three match championship flight against a team from The Edge in South Burlington, VT. Waltham took the match, 2-0 and 4-2 in individual matches, avenging last year’s loss in a three-team championship flight.
“It is always exciting to go to Nationals and represent New England. It’s like getting a wild card to Wimbledon,” Warden said. “The matches were close on Sunday and it came down to the last match. We are good friends with our opponents; we play against them often and sometimes with them, on various teams.”
Warden and Kellogg have each captained various teams and have had several Nationals appearances between the two of them. Together in 2012, they were also part of two National Championship-winning teams: 50 & Over 4.5 and 18 & Over 4.5.
“This is the first time for me and Sally as co-captains taking a team to Nationals. Captaining is never an easy job. We try to be inclusive of all players on our team and winning that way is icing on the cake. Sally and I are pinching ourselves for our dream has come true,” Warden said.
For Captain Cate Arkins, this is the third consecutive year she’ll be attending 55 & Over Nationals. She is a non-playing captain this year, and thanks to repeat players Elizabeth Dick, Debee Kelly and Nancy Harbert, her 8.0 team has another chance to compete for a National Championship. Arkins, Kelly and Harbert also reached Nationals on Captain Bernice Hartnett’s team in 2016.
Arkins’ team from Bass River Tennis Club in Beverly, MA, dominated the 8.0 Sectionals this year, finishing unbeaten in team matches. They went 3-0 in flight play with a 7-2 individual match record to clinch a spot in the semifinals. They took down Simsmore Tennis, 3-0 in the semis and defeated Marcus Lewis Tennis Center by the same score in the finals.
“This is a group of strong, competitive, fair, supportive and just plain great ladies. We worked hard all season during practices and matches to get ready for Sectionals, always with our eye on the prize,” Arkins said.
Sylvia Swartz led her 7.0 team out of Longfellow Tennis and Health Club in Wayland, MA to 55 & Over Sectionals title. The team went 3-0 to win its flight and finished with a 6-3 individual score, one win better then both the second and third-place finishers.
In a 20-team field Swartz’s team battled through a quarterfinal match against Mid-Cape Athletic Club and semis against Fore Court Racquet and Fitness. Longfellow won both matches by a 2-1 margin. They were rewarded by being matched up against a gritty Mid-Cape team once again in the finals, which had advanced via wildcard. Longfellow took the championship by an identical 2-1 score.
Farmington Valley Racquet Club’s Net Chix are the 2018 6.0 champions. Linda Graydon’s team from Simsbury, CT finished 3-0 (8-1) in flight play, defeating teams from the International Tennis Hall Of Fame, the Racket and Fitness Center and Willy’s Gym.
With the flight win, the team advanced to the finals to square off against Fore Court Racquet and Fitness. Farmington Valley outlasted Fore Court, 2-1, winning five of the seven championship sets.
The third time’s a charm for Captain Angelo DiSpirito’s team from Pond View Racquet Club in Westerly, RI. The core of the Pond View 8.0 team has been together for three years, and in 2017, the squad fell one tiebreak short of reaching Sectionals, falling to the eventual Sectional champions from Rally Point Racquet Club. This year, after Rally Point was forced to split up, DiSpirito recruited three players to his team, to fortify an already strong unit.
Pond View narrowly edged out a team from Kings Highway Tennis in flight play, which finished with an identical 8-4 individual score. Pond View defeated Kings Highway in their head to head match, 2-1, giving them a perfect 4-0 record in the flight and automatic advancement to the finals. There, Pond View had no trouble with Bass River, winning all three positions.
“The team was elated Sunday afternoon. As a captain, I cannot express how happy you get once your second position is won and you know the team qualified. This past Sunday we took all three positions for the only time in the tournament. Every match we were in was a dog fight,” DiSpirito said.
“As a team, we are extremely honored and proud to be representing New England with this 8.0 team of 12 extremely competitive and wonderful human beings,” he added. “We all respect each other immensely and have total admiration of the unique talent set each player brings to the table. Our goal at Nationals is to reach ‘Final Four Sunday,’ and we will be working very hard to make sure we get there.”
In its first year playing together, Robert Nelson’s 7.0 team out of WestFit Swim & Tennis Club in Westford, MA took the top spot in arguably the most competitive flight of the weekend. The four-team flight was decided by one match, with WestFit getting the better of teams from Farmington Valley, Enfield Tennis Club and Fore Court.
WestFit and Farmington Valley each played to 2-1 team records, but WestFit’s posted a 7-2 individual record to Farmington Valley’s 4-5.
In the finals, WestFit defeated a team from Center Court Tennis Club, 3-0, to advance to Nationals.
Leading up to Sectionals, WestFit faced a world of adversity. They were able to muster up just one practice after Districts due to multiple players going down with injuries.
“It came down to selecting players that were healthy enough to play,” Nelson said. “In addition to skill, we were very fortunate that many of our players were good friends and paring chemistry for play was easy to achieve. Several of our pairs were together for the first time this season and work remarkably well together.”
My reaction to winning was of ecstatic joy, and I had trouble sleeping as I was so pumped up,” Nelson said. “Going to Nationals, especially at the new USTA National Tennis Center, is exciting beyond words. It will be like going to Tennis Heaven being surrounded by tremendous tennis enthusiasm. I'll be pumped up to play on the National stage.”
Next on the League Championship schedule is the Adult 18 & Over Districts, to take place from August 3-5.
For event photos, click here.
To view full results from 55 & Over Sectionals, click here.