When Liz Duffy started playing in USTA Eastern’s Mixed Doubles League this season, she knew that to see results she would need more hours on court and fewer hours with her four kids.
So after the 6.0 team she plays on, Advantage+, won the section 6.0 Mixed Championships on Sunday, it was her team holding down the fort in New Jersey that she credited with the victory.
"Without a husband willing to stay home with four little kids, I couldn't be doing this," said Duffy. "It's really my family that helped me be there for the team."
Duffy’s team, which is captained by Ilija Zeljkovic and plays out of Inman Sports Club (Edison, NJ), is one of five teams from that beat out tough competition from across the section to win the Section Championships, held June 1-3, 2012, in the Capital Region of New York.
Among those teams was Jim Cary’s 8.0 Northern team, playing out of Sportime at Schenectady (Schenectady, NY), which finished 4-1 and only lost seven sets all weekend long.
Still, Cary said the last match on Sunday was tense and exciting, and it was the team’s talent and hard work that led them to victory.
"A couple of players were having a bad day, but they really stuck it out," said Cary.
Cary, whose last trip to Nationals was as part of a 3.5 men’s team in 1999, is planning to schedule outdoor practices to prepare his players for the National Championship in November in Tucson, Arizona. At the same time, Zeljkovic is going to have his team work on volleys and over-heads, and make use of the ball machines that two of his team members own.
And while Zeljkovic is excited to lead the team to Nationals, he says it his players that embody the qualities that make tennis such a wonderful sport: competition, dedication, friendship, and sportsmanship.
"Our team members all say they feel fortunate and gratified that they have opportunity to compete in a USTA league and meet wonderful tennis people from all over the country," said Zeljkovic. "They all emphasize the captain's hard work, but I think what really counts and what makes me happy is that we were always together and available when we needed to be."
Champions: Advantage+ (New Jersey)
Finalists: Carefree, Raneses (Long Island)
Champions: Bin H/Pollyanna W (New Jersey)
Finalists: Kendy/Vogt (Metro)
Champions: Cary (Northern)
Finalists: Davoren (Metro)
Champions: Rye Racquet (Southern)
Finalists: Connelly (Western)
Champions: Rye Racquet - Blanch (Southern)
Finalists: Schneider (Western)