Southwest women play the Southern women in a tough match that went to a tie-break.
© Andrew Ong
By Matt Birch, special to USTA.com
Tucson, Ariz. --- The women’s team representing the Southwest Section at the 2011 USTA League 4.0 Adult National Championships in Tucson, Ariz. have a unique advantage over their competition this weekend as they are competing on their home court.
While all of this weekends’ other competitors had to deal with traveling, hotel accommodations, rental cars and other travel issues, the Tucson women remained in their normal daily routines and got to sleep in their own beds.
Some members of the team have been competing together around Tucson for ten years at various tennis clubs and this is the first season in which the team has qualified for Nationals. Conveniently, the 2011 Championships are being held at the Jim Reffkin Tennis Center located in the heart of Tucson, which is where the team has been practicing all year.
Team co-captain Melissa Vinikoor explained some of the advantages that her team may have this weekend by getting to play at home.
"We are all used to playing in these hot temperatures and it’s great to play on the courts where we are most comfortable," she said.
Those temperatures are expected to reach triple digits each day this weekend, which is nothing new to these Tucsonans, but may be considered a bit extreme late September weather for some of the teams from cooler climates.
Additionally, the team has one of the largest contingent of fans and supporters in attendance, as many friends and family members have come out to cheer on the team as they vie for a National Championship.
"We have a big following," Vinikoor explained. "It is nice to have the support, but it also makes us more nervous."
Another factor that was discussed as a possible negative for competing at home is not getting the experience of traveling and staying in a hotel together as a team, which can be a great way to build camaraderie and memories.
However, the Southwest women are very happy to be able to be at home with their families and not have to worry about the hassles involved with travel.
Overall, the team was very impressed with the competitive balance amongst the competing teams, and seeing that there is an equal playing field at the 4.0 level, regardless of where everyone was from.
Even though they may not be staying in a hotel together this weekend, the team still shares a very close bond, and has enjoyed practicing all summer to reach their goal of competing at the National Championships on their home court, and in front of their friends and family.