USTA League National Championships are familiar territory for Kathy Oostdam. As a first-year captain in 2001, Oostdam helped lead her 3.0 Women’s squad from Central Pennsylvania to an appearance at the national tournament. The result wasn’t what she hoped it would be – the team lost in the first round robin.
Now, 11 years later, Oostdam is back for a shot at redemption. She and her teammates on the 4.0 Women’s Middle States Section Champion squad will compete for a National Championship at the Jim Reffkin Tennis Center in Tucson, Ariz. Oct. 19-21.
Oostdam is confident this team will represent Middle States well. After all, they did go 17-0 in League play, and dropped only 19 total sets at the Section Championships.
“There are certain things about this team that make us great,” said Oostdam. “We are very tight-knit. There is a lot of unity on this team. Our motto is, ‘We win as a team, and we lose as a team.’”
Aside from winning, one thing Oostdam loves about this squad is its sense of humor. The team has a ‘lucky monkey’ stuffed animal mascot that was given as a gift to a previous captain who led a 3.5 team to Nationals several years ago. Oostdam said the monkey will make the trip to Arizona this year.
“We can be pretty silly,” she said. “When I introduced a new member of our team, she told us her job was a recreational specialist. Nobody knew what that was, and we tried to guess what it meant. Now we know, but we tease her and she has a great sense of humor about it. As much as we like to play tennis, we enjoy being with each other off the court.”
It is obvious that Oostdam and her squad have fun together. Her sense of humor is even evident in the advice she gives her teammates as they prepare for the trip to Arizona.
“We have a tendency to overplan and overpack,” she said. “I said to the ladies, ‘If you don’t normally eat bananas before a match, don’t bring bananas!’
Even with a shot a national championship just days away, Oostdam doesn’t feel any pressure.
“Winning at Nationals is very difficult,” she said. “It would be complete icing on the cake, but we’re going out there to do our best. If it doesn’t happen, we got the experience. It’s just so nice to represent the Central Pennsylvania District.”
Stay tuned to the Middle States Web site and Facebook page the weekend of Oct. 19-21 for the latest results from the 4.0 Adult National Championships, as well as the 4.5 Senior National Championships taking place in Indian Wells, Calif.
For complete coverage of both events, visit the USTA Web site here.