East Bay Team Captures Adult League National Championship
It’s the 2022 USTA League National Championship season for adult teams from across the country, and USTA Northern California is proud to have over 40 teams representing our section. With the National Championships more than halfway through, NorCal teams have pulled out some impressive results, including the Adult 40 & Over women’s 4.0 team from Claremont Resort & Spa Club which was recently crowned the champions of their division.
We caught up with captain Kimia Zucker and teammate Sally Fitzhugh to hear about their team’s journey at Nationals where they brought home the gold.
Plus, stay tuned in the next couple of weeks to hear more about all of our teams who competed at Nationals and represented our NorCal section!
Adult 40 & Over Women's 4.0 Team Captain Kimia Zucker & Teammate Sally Fitzhugh:
It was a beautiful fall afternoon with blue skies speckled full of fluffy white clouds floating overhead when we, the Claremont Resort & Spa Club, representing the USTA NorCal section, won the 4.0 women’s Adult 40 & Over National Championship in Oklahoma City on October 9, 2022. However, it wasn’t all clear skies leading to that moment. A mix of experience, struggle, determination, sacrifice, and support blended together to create an unforgettable experience.
Just that morning, we woke up to cold, cloudy skies and wet courts. Many last-minute changes had to take place to allow all of the semi-finals to take place as scheduled indoors. We give a shoutout to the phenomenal administrators running our Nationals. They were fabulous with great backup options ready to roll for our rain time at various points throughout the weekend. Our team faced very strong players and across the board the sportsmanship level was superb and many matches were oh-so-close. The semi-finals were a case in point—we all had to pivot to play indoors and the Southern team gave us an excellent challenge with our team barely squeaking by Southern with just a few games differential.
To what do we attribute our success at Nationals? We could chalk it up to luck, but really we worked hard and built up to that moment from even as far back as 2019, pre-COVID. Many of our players were on the NorCal Claremont 4.0 women’s team that went to Nationals in Surprise Arizona in 2019, and after the Claremont 2020 team went into inactive mode due to the pandemic, the team took the next season off and came back with another solid roster in 2022. We committed to running a competitive team and this time we had the experience to know what that would require. We built upon an already solid base of fabulous long-time Claremont players and supplemented it with a few new talented players who could help bridge a gap in our singles and add depth to our doubles strength. Players prioritizing our team over other commitments also really paid off and every one of our 22 players won one or more matches, ensuring we never lost a match throughout the season all the way through Nationals.
Getting ready for Nationals, everyone rose to the occasion, working on their respective games and overall fitness level for months. Still, it required not just a prolonged effort by our teammates but also reliance on the support of our local community and the sacrifice made by fellow teammates and others impacted to help us succeed. A cadre of local talent, including some of our own teammates who unfortunately couldn’t make the trip to Nationals with us, as well as former opponents, and 4.5 friends helped us hone our game. Claremont coaches were also instrumental in helping us prepare, as well as our Claremont tennis coordinator. We also had to ask the men from our Summer Mixed league season to forgive us for passing on Mixed Sectionals after we won those playoffs together. Playing with them really stepped up our game, but sadly the dates of Mixed Sectionals overlapped with our Nationals. All of these people were instrumental to our team and they were all with us in spirit on our journey to the National Championships.
At the end of the day, 31,490 women participated in the Adult 40 & Over 4.0 nationally and 2,624 teams competed with only 17 teams across the various sections of the country advancing to the championships.
For our team, it all culminated in the second set of the singles match outdoors on that Sunday afternoon. The rains parted and finals were moved outside. Our match against Midwest was neck-and-neck but with the sun shining, fans cheering from the sidelines, and one of our ace singles players, Fan Lau, securing that second set 6-4 even though she didn’t win the third set tiebreak, she did just enough to push our team over the ridge to the top. We are so grateful to Fan and everyone on the team and all those in support who did just enough to help us take home the national trophy.
We enjoyed meeting players from across the country and appreciated the different playing styles and strategies we faced. We loved the camaraderie and laughter we shared between matches, and we especially appreciated the support from the USTA NorCal men’s 4.0 team whom we got to know there and who cheered us on from the sidelines all along the way.
Our Claremont team is so proud to be the first East Bay team to bring home the Nationals Adult 40 & Over women’s title. And while winning was terrific, the experience of getting to Nationals, and once there, the dedication of all the volunteers, the sportsmanship, and the sheer joy of the sport we felt that weekend made the experience unforgettable.