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Road to Nationals for NorCal's Mixed 18 & Over 10.0 Team
It’s been a successful couple of years at USTA League Nationals for the NorCal Mixed 18 & Over 10.0 team out of Albany with back-to-back finalist achievements. First in 2019, and now again in 2021.
From the local courts, all the way to this year’s Nationals competition held in Surprise, Arizona, the NorCal team made a proud showing.
Their journey started at Sectionals where the team pulled out close victories in all four of their matches 2-1, edging out their opponents in tiebreakers or super tiebreakers.
Building off that momentum, the team, captained by married couple Patrick and Johanna Huck, was ready for another shot at the National title.
“We had several of the same team members from the 2019 team this year, so we went in knowing what the level of competition would be and feeling comfortable and confident we could get out of the group stage based on our 2019 run,” Patrick said.
And while they were armed with that knowledge, a loss in their first match put their run off to a shaky start. However, the team looked at it as a wake-up call and bounced back with a win against USTA SoCal.
Heading into the second day, the team knew they needed two wins to advance to the semis. In preparation, Patrick and Johanna called a team meeting to discuss the game plan.
“Everybody knows our lineup options and we don’t like to split up established doubles teams, so our discussion was more about who we want to match up with whom based on the scouting of our opponents,” Patrick said.
Johanna also added that as the team leaders, they value everyone’s opinions. “We want people to feel comfortable when walking out on the court, so we always make our lineups a team decision because we want to hear what they think.”
Their plan worked and earned them the two victories needed, including a win against USTA Eastern, who would become the eventual champions.
After winning the semis, the team went head-to-head again with USTA Eastern in the finals. While they fought the good fight, it came down to a 10-point tiebreaker win for Eastern.
In the end, the team believes what got them to the final was the team camaraderie and how comfortable they were with each other.
Leading up to both Sectionals and Nationals, the Hucks said the team really put in a lot of hard work training with team practices every weekend and team dinners.
“I think that was important because it helped us figure out the pairings,” Patrick said. “We always went into practices very prepared to test out different combinations of players to see what worked and made everyone feel comfortable.”
The team also credited their cheering squad to their overall success. Two of their team members were part of a dedicated cheering squad and did not compete, but wanted to help pump up the team. Not to mention, fellow NorCal Mixed 6.0 team also stopped by the courts to cheer them on. At one point the team had a group of about 20 people rooting them on.
Overall, the team was proud to make finalists runs two years in a row, and are planning to celebrate as a team at an upcoming Friendsgiving.
And not only was their back-to-back an accomplishment for the whole team, but it was a great personal accomplishment for both Patrick and Johanna who have been captaining the team for five years, constantly recruiting, planning, and strategizing.
“It’s so rewarding to be a captain, and I love to make my teammates feel comfortable and enjoy tennis together,” Johanna said.
Patrick also echoes those sentiments and adds that captaining with his significant other has also been a great privilege.
“It’s the best doing tennis and captaining together as a couple,” he said. “We each bring something to the table.”
The pair, who captained teams and were on the board of a local tennis club in Germany prior to moving to the US and getting involved in USTA Adult Leagues, has no plans to stop any time soon. They are looking forward to next season, and they already have their team in place and are signed up with the motivation from their past two years for a third Nationals run.
To follow the NorCal Mixed 18 & Over 10.0 team’s journey at Nationals, check out the Instagram takeover they did here.
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