New england Teams Advance to 2018 Tri-Level Championships
James Maimonis, Communications and Engagement Coordinator | January 23, 2018
Meet the 2018 New England Tri-Level Championships Team
LUDLOW, MA- Home to the BNP Paribas Open, the Indian Wells Tennis Garden is widely regarded as one of the finest American venues for professional tennis. Six New England Tri-Level League teams recently earned the opportunity to close out their winters in beautiful Indian Wells, CA, where they will be competing alongside the pros at the Tri-Level Championships.
Of the 50 teams that reached Sectionals from January 12-14 in Western Massachusetts, seven took home titles and six (3.5, 4.0, 4.5) will join forces to represent New England at the Championships using the Tri-Level “Team” format.
The Championships will be held from March 16-18, the final weekend of the BNP Paribas Open.
Get to know these teams a little bit before they depart for California, and learn about their roads to the Sectional Championship.ADVERTISEMENT
Women’s 3.0 (Non-Advancing)
This was the first trip to Tri-Level Sectionals for “Open Challenger,” made up of Captain Sarah Song and Kasia Bratz, both from Farmington, CT. The women, who call themselves “tennis animals,” claim to spend more time with one another than with their husbands, and it showed. They dominated their flight, winning both matches without dropping a set.
In the finals, they matched up with a Southern Connecticut squad that appeared to be on its way to the 3.0 crown. Down a set and 0-2 in the second, the ladies of Open Challenger were unsure of their fate.
“Both of us were bumped up to 3.5s so we didn’t think it would be that challenging, but it turned out our opponents were both solid 3.5 players as well,” Song said. “At that moment down 0-2, we both had some doubts, but for some reason we played better and better and we were able to pull it out.”
They stuck together with Bratz at the net and Song at the baseline and came back to win the match, two sets to one.
“We were of course so excited, as winning the finals was our initial goal when the team was formed, and we made it,” Song said.
Bonnie David captained two teams from Eastern Massachusetts to 2018 Tri-Level Sectional titles, including the 3.5 team that featured Aubrey Lovejoy and Jennifer Herrmann. The ladies, out of Paxton Tennis Club, joined up after David won tournaments with each in 2017.
The team went 13-0 during the season, and their success carried over into flight play at Sectionals. They finished 3-0 without dropping a set, setting up a date with other undefeated team, Moriguchi, from Southern Connecticut.
In the finals, David’s team took the first set, 6-3 and went down 3-5 in the second. But with a team consisting of top-ranked USTA New England 3.5 Tournament player Herrmann and Lovejoy, who is 15-1 in Central Mass. league play, they quickly regrouped, and pulled out the match, 7-6 in a tiebreak.
“After the last point was won in the finals, the realization that we were going to Indian Wells was overwhelming. It seemed surreal,” David said. “Attending the BNP Paribas tournament at Indian Wells is an incredible opportunity, and now not only are we attending but playing.”
Celeste Goodhue and Bonnie David have competed together in a number of leagues over the past two years, and this year they thought they’d take their shot at Tri-Levels. With the coaching of their pro, Kwasi Ahenkora, behind them, the women were confident they could capture the 4.0 Sectional title.
“We’ve spent many hours learning doubles strategy from Kwasi and consequently ‘speak the same language’ on the court. Having a playbook filled with multiple strategies and constantly giving input from each other, help with our competitive edge,” David said.
The duo finished 3-0 in a close flight, where the top three teams were separated by just three total games. In the finals, they took down team Salvatore in straight sets.
“When we won, we both seemed to have a delayed reaction. As exciting as it was to win the final point, it wasn't until the next morning it sank in we were heading to Indian Wells,” Davis said.
“As we’ve reflected on our first experience competing in the Tri-Level League, we recall great competition, flexibility in scheduling and two women on a mission to win,” she added. “Getting to nationals is a huge blessing and is far beyond what we could have imagined. We appreciate the honor to be going and the once in a life time experience before us.”
In their first year all together, Julie Condit led her Downright Smashing squad out of Northern Connecticut to the 4.5 title. The off-court friends combined their two teams to compete in their first season in Tri-Level League. The “well-rounded team” where everyone had “their own unique strengths,” consisted of Condit, Erica Maglieri, Julie McNeill and Keeley Patrick.
Downright Smashing swept through flight play at Sectionals, going 3-0, winning each match in straight sets. In the finals, they kept their momentum going, defeating team Gouin, from Pont View Racquet Club, 2-0.
“The feeling was magical,” Condit said. “Our team reached a whole other level of play during the finals. I think we were able to come out on top because we knew win or lose, we were out there to have fun and support one another.”
Aidan Boyce led his team, “Chops,” from Maine, to the 3.5 men’s title. Boyce and partner Vishal Churiwalla were without third member Jonathan Rhoads at Sectionals, but they didn’t let it get them down. The guys went 3-0 in flight play, picking up wins against teams from Vermont, and Northern and Southern Connecticut. In the finals, they handed team Willy, from Eastern Massachusetts, their first set and match losses of the championships, picking up a 2-0 victory.
Bryan Lewis and his team, Well-Strung, out of Armstrong Tennis Center in Maine took home the 4.0 title in their first Tri-Level Sectionals appearance. Lewis, along with Bill Weatherbee, Riley Lizotte and James Cotton (did not participate due to injury), have played together for years but have never reached a Sectionals or Nationals.
“We’ve come close a few times, and this year in particular we had a strong 4.0 Men’s team that tied for first place at Districts only to lose a tiebreak on paper to a team we’d beaten,” Lewis said. “That was tough to get over, so it felt really good to win out and not rely on games or sets won I’ve heard great things about Indian Wells and am excited for the experience.”
The team featuring two lefty players went 3-0 in flight play, losing just one set. In the finals, they battled team Morin from Rhode Island, in what turned into an instant classic.
“We went to a third-set tiebreak and were fortunate to get ahead early and kept the pressure on them,” Lewis said. “We tried to block out what winning meant and just kept telling each other throughout the tiebreak, ‘don’t let up.’”
Well-Strung pulled away and won the tiebreak, 10-1.
Alex Uttard led Bass River Blue to the 4.5 championship. Teaming with James Santoro and Brian Lahey (did not play at Sectionals), this was Uttard’s second 4.5 Sectionals title in three years. The duo from Eastern Massachusetts defeated teams from New Hampshire and Southern Connecticut to win their flight and advance to Indian Wells.