The weather didn’t allow for much outdoor tennis for New Jersey residents over the past few months, but anyone watching USTA League National Championships in Surprise, Ariz. over the weekend would’ve thought the opposite.
A Middle States team from Hopewell, N.J. had quite the showing during Adult 55 & Over 7.0 National Championships, winning matches against teams from all over the country to earn a spot in the Sunday final. The team lost to a squad from Charleston, S.C., but boarded the plane in Arizona with quite the story to tell, and quite a season to talk about.
“It’s hard to say if we even had expectations going into the week,” Kabay said. “At first we were just so delighted to have arrived and be able to participate.”
But then the team won a match. Then another, and another.
In windy and difficult weather conditions, the squad continued to do well throughout the tournament, eventually beating USTA Northern California in the semi-final to punch a ticket to the championship.
“We had a great run,” Kabay said. “It was a wonderful surprise.”
It was only fitting that before the tournament, the team named itself Surprise.
The team is captained by Kabay and features Mary Reath, Anthea Spencer, Barbara Pleva, Darlene Timbie, Barbara Yuhas, Sheila Shaffer and Carol Lipson, and plays at the Hopewell Tennis Center.
Kabay, who has been playing tennis for about 20 years, said her team enjoyed the camaraderie of the trip and getting to know the other teams so well.
“In the end we made friends with people from California and Oklahoma City,” she said. “It was a great experience for us, starting at Sectional Championships and going through the entire weekend of Nationals. We loved it.”
Established in 1980, USTA League Tennis has grown from 13,000 participants in a few parts of the country in its first year, to more than 820,000 players across the nation today, making it the world’s largest recreational tennis league.
USTA League Tennis was established to provide adult recreational tennis players throughout the country with the opportunity to compete against players of similar ability levels. Players participate on teams in a league format, which is administered by the USTA through its 17 Sections. The league groups players by using six National Tennis Rating Program (NTRP) levels, ranging from 2.5 (entry) to 5.0 (advanced). USTA League is open to any USTA member 18 years of age or older.