It was hot in the desert last weekend. At temperatures of 105+ degrees, one might think tennis is the least activity on anybody’s mind. Not so fast – when your tennis team wins most of their local league matches, succeeds through playoffs and wins the Section Championships resulting in an invitation to play at a National Championship, you don’t care about the weather! You go out and compete for your team, your area or district, for your Section! And 600 tennis players on 66 teams from all over the United States came and played their hearts out in the hot desert sun of Indian Wells and Rancho Mirage.
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Section Championship teams from most of the 17 USTA Sections were looking forward to compete with other top of level teams last weekend. The USTA has established the Championship paths for adult teams for many years now and keeps sending their most experienced management team to organize and direct these prestigious, season ending events. The “Captains meetings”, taking place at the two sites used the evening before match play starts, routinely and repeatedly reminds players to hydrate as an important step towards enduring the brutal sun. “Play tennis, have fun, and hydrate,” were the words of David Schobel, USTA Tournament Director at the Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, the site used for the 2.5 National Championships.
Schobel knows. As Competitive Director for all of the USTA in White Plains, NY, he has participated one way or another in dozens of National Adult League Championships over the years. As a member of the National Oversight Group for NTRP ratings, the USTA’s proprietary tennis ratings system, and playing at an advanced level himself, it is not likely any question asked by the players and Captains could throw him off.
Mission Hills Country Club, a member of the ClubCorp family of Country Clubs, is a beautiful tennis and golf facility. Their web site states “The mountains of Coachella Valley provide a lush backdrop for 54 holes of challenging golf and the No. 1 USTA tennis facility in the nation. “ This claim is substantiated by 34 tennis courts, including 20 hard courts, 10 grass courts, and 4 clay courts. Mission Hills hosted the Davis Cup event twice; the hard court final in 1978 vs. England, and most recently in 2006, the grass court quarterfinal tie vs. Chile. Dave Sivertson, Director of Tennis at Mission Hills, was able to talk a little about the club and its rules in the Captains meeting. Sivertson is no stranger to competitive Tennis. He played on the pro-tour before becoming a USPTA Master Professional, and recently joined Mission Hills after 5 years as tennis Director at its sister club, the Braemar Country Club in Tarzana.
Competition was fierce in all flights of this 2.5 National Championship and in the end it was the women’s team from Des Moines, Iowa (USTA Missouri Valley Section), that beat the team from Rogers, Arkansas (Southern Section) for the national title. On the men’s side it was the Puerto Rico team (Caribbean Section) that beat the team from Central Pennsylvania (Middle States Section) and became National 2.5 Champions.
The Indian Wells Tennis Garden was the site for the USTA 5.0 National Championships. This beautiful, 24 courts facility is home to one of the most prestigious tennis tournaments in the world, the BNP Paribas Open. Director of Tennis Tom Fey is proud of his facility and loves to work all the various events at the Tennis Garden. All small and large tournaments and championships keep him busy and he points out all the little improvements the Tennis Garden has implemented lately. Like the additional spectator stands for the BNP Paribas Open practice courts, and the two new hard courts.
Tournament Director for the 5.0 Nationals was Diane Ansay, Director Adult Leagues and Recreational Tennis for the USTA’s Midwest Section. As a very experienced professional running USTA National Championships for many years, Ansay always loves to come back to the Indian Wells Tennis Garden – despite the heat. With a great staff and all the assistance from Tom Fey, the 2011 Championship went off without any problems, as expected.
The 5.0 level is quite advanced in the world of USTA NTRP ratings, so the matches were extremely competitive and often looked almost like “Challenger” pro level. On the men’s side it was The Atlanta team from the Southern Section winning the USTA National Adult League Championship over the Austin team (Texas Section). The 5.0 women’s winner was the team from Washington, DC (Mid Atlantic section), beating out the team from Phoenix, AZ (Southwest Section).
Everybody seemed to have had a great time despite the heat – including the guys from Stonyfield Farm. The makers of organic yoghurts are the new official sponsor of the USTA Adult League program, and players very much appreciated the company’s free giveaways of ice cold yoghurts in the desert.
Are you a USTA adult or senior League player? Have you played on your Section’s championship team and gone to a National Championship? Have you been to District or Section Championships? Please share your experience and comment. Thank you!
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