New England Wins First Mixed Title
James Maimonis, Communications and Engagement Coordinator | November 8, 2017
Dedham League Team Wins National Title
MOBILE, AL- It was an historic weekend for USTA New England League tennis as 18 & Over Mixed teams saw success like never before at the National Championships in Mobile, AL. A 7.0 team out of Dedham Health and Athletic Complex in Dedham, MA took home New England’s first ever mixed championship in dominant fashion, while Woburn Blue, out of Woburn Racquet Club in Woburn, MA, finished in a tie for third in the 9.0 division.
The Dedham team, captained by Nicole Leveille and coached by Nadia Choqri Soblan, was formed as a result of last year’s Nationals team being forced to split up. Leveille added new players from Dedham and Lakeville Athletic Club, and with a strong foundation already in place, the team knew what its goals were.
“We were very confident this year, but also aware that anything could happen, and looking at teams on paper only tells you so much,” Leveille said. ADVERTISEMENT “Winning was definitely a very surreal feeling for everyone. We had practiced, researched, discussed, and prepared for the past ten months, and it was finally over.”
Dedham Health sent just six players to Nationals and was still able to win its flight 3-0, beating teams from Amarillo, TX, Idaho and Northern California.
“A match on paper looks very different than a match being played. I can’t say I played a single match that I would consider easy at Nationals,” Leveille said. “The teams were tough, and many matched up well against us, so we constantly needed to change our game and adjust. This team’s mental toughness was the deciding factor for some of the matches.”
That mental toughness developed in large part due to grueling practices throughout the year. Those practices, combined with an unselfish group mentality, where everyone put the greater good of the team before themselves, were the difference for Leveille’s group.
“I could not be more proud. They dealt with Coach Nadia Choqri Sablon’s demanding practices and the constant nagging from their captain to get on the court each week,” she said. “Everyone contributed to the team’s success by putting the team before themselves, and many players even volunteered to be reserves for Nationals. It gives me chills to think about those moments and see a group of players who have, what I consider to be, a deep understanding of what it means to be a team player.”
Dedham rode its early momentum to the semifinals and finals where it went on to defeat teams from Phoenix and Northwestern Ohio respectively. All six players stepped up in the final rounds with partners playing at different positions throughout. Leveille paired with Larry Azevedo, partners Kathy Fritz and Anthony Do played together, and Sonu Kalra and Susan Koslow formed the third pairing.
“I wanted our best lines to play the other team’s best lines, and trust in the fact that we could prevail. There are some patterns that were clear, and we tried to counter them in order to match up correctly,” Leveille said. “Every pair played every line at Nationals, and every single player proved to themselves, our coach, and each other that we were a deep team, and we could rely on each other.”
Dedham players who did not make the trip to Nationals were: Kim Daley, Lou Pereira, Ryan Salomone, Patia Campbell, Robin Clifford, Michael Miller and Clara Potash.
Woburn Blue is just the second New England Mixed 9.0 team to reach the National semifinals, and it did so behind the hard work of Captain Josh Wilde and Co-Captain Katie McDonald.
“It feels absolutely amazing,” McDonald said. “We didn't come in with any real expectations, but I know how much effort people put into this team, and I am really proud of the result.”
The effort and hard work starts at the top, and McDonald credits her captain for setting the tone.
“Josh is a phenomenal leader. He is totally fair, open with people, works really hard for his teammates, and is a fantastic tennis player on top of all of that,” she added.
Woburn battled through flight play, as the team matched up in a stacked five-team division. The top two finishers, including Woburn, went 3-1, while the third and fourth-place teams each went 2-2. New England beat teams from Memphis, Northern California and Findlay, OH, while falling to fourth-place Virginia.
“Our whole flight was solid and every match in our flight was tight. I think we really separated ourselves by winning the tight matches,” McDonald said. “We also love when we can all be on the court near each other to keep an eye on the other matches. When one team sees another doing well, it is usually a pick-me-up and then that pair starts to play better.”
Woburn’s momentum came to a halt when the team squared off against Abilene, TX in the semifinals. The team from Texas prevailed, 3-0, but for Woburn, just reaching the semifinals was the culmination of years of dedication.
As much as Nationals is the cherry on top of the season, it really is the result of the three years that led up to that,” McDonald said. “Josh puts a ton of effort in, organizing practices and booking courts. We brought eight people to Nationals, but there are so many teammates we have had over the last three years that led to this tournament. Every one of them had a hand in this success, and I am proud of all of them.”
Nationals players for Woburn were: Wilde & McDonald, Aaron Bergeron & Lindsay Ebbert, Chris Pugliese & Sarita Biswas and alternates Naomi & Sena Biswas.Other Woburn players were: Seth Brohinsky, Emily Holick, Rebecca Stone, Harry Stone, Max Edwards, William Ryan, Justin Jaundoo and Alexis Tzannes.
Three other Mixed 18 & Over New England teams competed at Nationals. See results below:
6.0- Linda Calleva and Christopher Calleva led their 6.0 team to the National Championships. The team, which plays out of Waltham Athletic Club in Waltham, MA, finished fourth in flight play, going 1-3 with a 3-9 position record. Their win came against a team from Syracuse, NY.
8.0- The 8.0 team out of Shrewsbury Health and Racket Club in Shrewsbury, MA, finished 1-2 (4-5) in flight play. Chris Terpko led his team to a third-place finish with a win over Washington D.C.
10.0- Ryan Adamonis’ 10.0 team represented Cedardale Health and Fitness Club in Haverhill, MA. The team finished fourth in its flight going 0-3 (3-6).
Teams are back in action from November 10-12 with Mixed 40 & Over play in Mobile and Adult 18 & Over 4.5 action in Orlando, FL.