Woodlands League Team Gains Valuable Nationals Experience
FALMOUTH, ME - When Maine USTA League Coordinator, Seth Meyer, asked Tim Lacombe to create a Men’s 3.0 USTA team, Lacombe knew it would not be easy, but nevertheless he was up for the challenge. Part of Lacombe’s job as a teaching pro at The Woodlands was to build USTA teams in order to get members involved in competitive tennis.
With no 3.0 Men’s teams at the club in some time due to lack of interest, Lacombe knew he had a tall task ahead of him. However, his doubts were quickly eliminated when he started recruiting his roster.
The Woodlands’ 18 and Over 3.0 Men’s team roster was made up of players from the club’s Wednesday night clinic and players that personally took lessons from Tim. The team was small and only required five players per match due to using an abbreviated format (1 singles, 2 doubles). This helped Lacombe because he knew he only needed 10 men for a successful start.
Meyer created a league around those requirements and incorporated matches and a schedule, and the club eventually played other teams from Apex, Damariscotta, and Maine Pines. The Woodlands won the league and automatically qualified for the District Championships.
At first, Lacombe was uncertain because Districts required a full format (2 singles, 3 doubles) and he only had 10 players and would need 8 individuals to play. However, before he could even give Districts a second thought, he and his team received a notice that they would not need to compete at Districts and would advance straight to the Sectional Championships in Springfield, MA.
Naturally, Lacombe and his men were thrilled and knew they had an invaluable opportunity in front of them. So they knew they had to give it their all and put everything they had into this opportunity.
At Sectionals, The Woodlands finished undefeated and won their flight, beating teams from Eastern Massachusetts. However, the excitement did not stop there. Following their first place-victory, the men then received an invitation to the National Championships in Oklahoma to represent all of New England.
There was absolutely no doubt that they were going to attend.
While the team came up a little short on the National stage, Woodlands players won something arguably more important: unforgettable memories, indescribable experiences, and lifelong friendships.
The journey of the Woodlands team is exceptional because very few of the men had ever played a USTA match before, let alone picked up a racquet until a year ago.
For Lacombe, Nationals proved to be an emotional experience because the men on his team had worked so hard together and he had watched them navigate the ins and outs of USTA League from the very beginning. He felt an incredible sense of pride for his team, not only because of their previous successes, but because they all had come together as a team and as friends.
Although Lacombe technically put the team together, in the end it was really their team. The amount of dedication and hard work each individual player had to put into this journey could have only come from them. From never playing a USTA match to going to Nationals, what these men accomplished is nothing short of extraordinary.
So what’s next for this team? If a team goes to Nationals, they have to be split up (only allowing 3 players from the original roster on next year's roster) or move up a level in order to play together again. At this time, they have not quite made that decision, but with their hard work, dedication, and love for tennis and their teammates, there is no doubt the men from Woodlands will do great things. And as for building another 3.0 team, as Lacombe said in the beginning, he’s up for the challenge.
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