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Blog: U.S. Wins 2012 ITF Connolly Cup Tennis!

February 8, 2012 09:23 AM
Special to USTA Florida, by Carolyn Nichols
Feb. 12, 2012

The champion U.S. Connolly Cup team, left to right: Leslie Murveit, Carolyn Nichols, Susan Wright, Diane Barker
The U.S. Maria Bueno Cup team, left to right: Mary Dailey, Tracy Houk, Tina Karwasky, Fran Chandler
The U.S. Suzanne Lenglen Cup team
The U.S. Dubler Cup team of (left to right) Andy Stoner, Rick Leach, Curtis Dunn, and Mario Tabares
We Won the Connolly Cup!

Friday we played the final of the Maureen Connolly Cup against Great Britain, the #2 seeds. They were our opponents in last year's final too, and beat a tough French team the previous day, decisively. However, Susan Wright, our #2 player, and Diane Barker, our #1 player were new to our team and very tough.

Susan lost the first game of the day to Sally Freeman, and that was the last time the British team had the lead. She got better and better as the match rolled on, winning 61 61. Susan just did everything better than Sally. In particular, every time she had Sally a bit off balance, she moved forward and finished points at the net, and didn't allow Sally to dictate points or allow her much time to recover position between shots.

Diane then took on Frances Candy, a finalist at the last world championships in 2010 in Mexico. Diane also moved in, took the ball early and hit laser-like ground strokes past Candy, beating her 61 60. Diane finished the week having dropped only three games in her four matches! It was an incredible performance by Diane and Susan.

I played doubles with Leslie Murveit and we had a close match, but ultimately fell to Ann Clark and Pat Wise 60 36 62.

After we finished, we had the awards ceremony. The flags of the three medalists, USA, Great Britain and France (who beat So Africa 2-1 for the bronze) were brought out and held by volunteers and the ITF representative, Lorna Krog, who after thanking the players, presented a plaque to the tennis director, Colleen Ferrell, who was terrific all week in helping with this event. Then we were given gold medals (the Brits silver and the French bronze), and of course the Maureen Connolly Cup (which is actually a silver tray). We took photos and then planned our celebration!

We decided on a barbecue and had a very nice party with our team, my cousins, some friends and Susan's husband Tim and Diane's husband Jack. We took Maureen (the Maureen Connolly Cup tray) with us for the night and took some photos with her. She's now on her way back to the USTA to be engraved before returning to the Balboa Club to be displayed 'till next year. This event will be in Turkey in 2013.

The other Florida players medaled in the competition too:

Mary Dailey, Delray Beach, playing for the Maria Bueno Cup team, women's 50, took sliver. Their team had a heartbreaker of a final.

Tracy Houk, Half Moon Bay, CA won at #2 singles in three tough sets. Fran Chandler, Jackson, TN, was playing Ros Balodis, who is a tennis savant, you have to see her to believe how good she is. Fran was playing great and gutting out close games, leading 64 50 when the tide started to turn...she lost that game, but had a championship point in the next game, and netted a backhand. I turned my back to answer some questions and the next thing I knew it was 5-4...Ros ended up winning 62 in the third. Mary and Tina Karwasky, Glendale, played the deciding doubles and lost 62 62, though the points were unbelievable. The match was at 3-2, first set when it started to rain on Saturday and it was finished Sunday afternoon. Balodis, as good as she is in singles, is eerily good in doubles.

Trish Riddell, Lakeland, captained the Suzanne Lenglen Cup team, women's 35, seeded 4th, to a bronze medal finish, a fine performance. They upset Spain, the #2 seeds to win the bronze behind the singles wins of Kelly Wilson, Cameron Park, CA and Patricia Zerdan, Dallas, TX. Great Britain won the Cup over France.

Mario Tabares, Miami, captained the Dubler Cup team, men's 45. On Friday the team, seeded #1, lost to Italy 2-0. Curtis Dunn and Tabares, playing #2 and #1 respectively, lost their singles. The doubles was not played. On Saturday the USA played Great Britain. Andy Stoner got the team off to a good start with a three set win at #2 singles. Tabares clinched the tie with a 60 75 win at #1 singles. The doubles was not played. Italy beat France in the final to win the Dubler Cup.

Special to USTA Florida, by Carolyn Nichols
Feb. 10, 2012

blog3-Diane-action-good-webThe USA Connolly Cup team beat So. Africa today 3-0. Susan Wright beat Muriel Cherry 61 62 in a good match. Muriel ran down a lot of balls and handled Susan's pace well. Diane Barker beat Heather Grobler 60 60 in a quick match. Diane was on fire, missing rarely and hitting lots of winners...and making it look easy! Leslie Airola-Murveit and I beat a good doubles, team, Sonja Botha and Heather 62 75.

We play the British team, which beat France 3-0, not dropping a set in the process.

The big excitement of the day took place in the match between Turkey and Costa Rica. The guys were having a really good match, 'til the Turkey player apparently had a heart attack and was unconscious and flat lining. The EMT kept up the CPR 'til the paramedics came and he is still alive, but in the hospital.

The banquet for the players was tonight and was a nice dinner and not too drawn out. Bill Kellogg and others spoke.

The Dubler Cup team, Men's 45, including Mario Tabares, Miami, won 2-1, taking the #1 singles and the doubles points.

The Suzanne Lenglen Cup team, captained by Trish Riddell of Lakeland, fell to top-seeded France.
Special to USTA Florida, by Carolyn Nichols
Feb. 8, 2012

USA Connolly Cup Teams Beats Canada to Reach Semis Against South Africa

The only thing that slowed down the USA Connolly Cup's victory over Canada today was wet courts, which led to a delay of about 90 minutes today. The rain from last night and the cool temperatures here (it is February after all) led to wet hard courts at the start of play. Wet hard courts are slippery and dangerous to play on.

However, today was sunny and beautiful and Susan Wright started play against Canada's Gillian Shea at #2 singles. She won 60 61, behind laser-like ground strokes. Diane Barker then played #1 singles against Canada's Frances Critchley, winning by the same score, 60 61 to clinch the tie. During Diane's match, I was taking photos of the USA men's match against South Africa, and got an urgent text from Susan letting me know that Diane's match was going fast and to get over there for doubles!

Leslie Airola-Murveit and I played the doubles against Canada's #1, Michelle Hall and Christa Cameron, and had a good match. We won 63 75, and held off a match point at 4-5 in the second set when Christa was serving. By the end of the match we had a pretty good audience watching. It was fun, even though the match was a dead rubber match. These courts here are fast though, and coming to net pays off dividends even for players who are normally baseline players (for example, me!).

Tomorrow we play South Africa, the #5 seed. They upset the #3 seed, Australia, 2-1 in a close tie, which came down to the third set of the deciding doubles match. They were delighted with the win...one player didn't even know that the win today put them into the semis! The finals and other matches to determine the 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11 place teams are set for Friday.

Other Florida players fared well and all are in the semifinals or finals.

Trish Riddell, Lakeland, the playing captain for the women's 35s (Lenglen Cup) team, had an easy day. The team didn't lose one game in winning their singles and doubles matches today. Trish played doubles with Carolina Blouin against Kristin Micaleff and Dilara Celiker. They play the top seeds, France, tomorrow at La Costa.

The USA Maria Bueno Cup team had nearly as decisive a day, dropping only two games against Estonia. Mary Dailey, Delray Beach, also anchored the doubles team, playing with captain Fran Chandler to beat Merike Seer and Kaie Ulper. They play the semifinals on Thursday against the winner between Italy and Great Britain.

Mario Tabares, Miami, the #1 singles player on the Dubler Cup team, took the day off against Australia today. He played doubles with Curtis Dunn against Manuel Radic and Martin Warwick, and they won 64 63. They play Spain tomorrow at Morgan Run.
Special to USTA Florida, by Carolyn Nichols
Feb. 6, 2012

Maureen Connolly Cup: First Day of Play for USA Ends in Decisive Victory!

I am captaining the Maureen Connolly Cup for the third time and also playing on the team. Our team consists of four players, Diane Barker, Daniel Island, SC; Susan Wright, Grand Junction, CO, Leslie Airola-Murveit, Portola Valley, CA and me, Carolyn Nichols, from Fort Lauderdale, FL and Rancho Santa Fe, CA. We are playing at the Balboa Tennis Club in San Diego, CA.  Each team from the USA has four players who are selected from all national tournament players from the USA based on their results in senior tournament play.

The U.S. Maureen Connolly Cup team from left to right: Diane Barker, Leslie Airola-Murveit, Carolyn Nichols, and Susan Wright
This is an international team event. It is similar to Fed Cup and Davis Cup and is the most important team event of the year for the top senior players. There are 10 Cups being contested February 6-11, 2012 at seven sites around San Diego: La Costa Resort, Carlsbad; Morgan Run Resort & Spa, Rancho Santa Fe; La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club, La Jolla; La Jolla Tennis Club, La Jolla; Barnes Tennis Center, San Diego, San Diego Tennis and Racquet Club, San Diego and Balboa Tennis Club.

The men's and women's 55 and over divisions are being played at Balboa. The men are seeded #2 and the women are seeded #1. The USA has won the Connolly Cup for five years in a row. This venue is appropriate because Maureen Connolly grew up in San Diego and played much of her tennis at Morley Field in Balboa Park (site of the Balboa Tennis Club).
The first three days of play are round robin play. There are 13 teams in our Cup: USA, Argentina, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Gr. Britain, Ireland, Netherland, So. Africa, Spain, Sweden, & Turkey. The seeds are USA, Gr. Britain, Australia and France. Our team is in a round robin with Sweden and Canada. We all arrived by Friday and spent many hours practicing on Saturday and Sunday. We had a light day of practice Monday (though I went over to the venue where the women's 50s are playing and practiced singles there).

Today, Tuesday, we were eager to play our first match. Though the weather forecast was not good (100% chance of rain!) we were optimistic and the rain did hold off till we finished play. The matches are played sequentially: #2 singles, #1 singles, then doubles.  Susan started off against Elisabeth Angenberg and showed no mercy, beating her 60 60. In fact she lost two points the first set...on double faults.

Diane was next up, beating Maria Laftman 60 61. Then I played doubles with Leslie. We hadn't played doubles before this week, and both liked the deuce side...but after practicing I am now playing the ad court. Leslie played very well and we beat Gunilla Berg and Edith Nordin 60 62. After the match we had a team meeting...to discuss attire and dinner plans (navy tops, white skirts; dinner in Coronado). One big difference in a team event as opposed to a tournament is that one player is allowed on court to coach. Leslie apparently did the best job, since she was on court while Susan was playing. Susan then stayed on court while Diane played because Susan does not sweat, so never needs to change immediately after her singles matches.

Our team is really strong this year. I am ranked #2 in the world by the International Tennis Federation and am #3 on this team. Susan just beat me in the final of a big tournament in California and Diane is the defending world champion, in the 50s. Leslie is very solid too in singles and doubles and was a singles and doubles finalist at the Clay Courts last year. I think we will do really well this week.

There are three other Florida players participating in these Cups. Trish Riddell, Lakeland, FL, Mary Dailey, Delray Beach, FL and Mario Tabares, Miami.

Riddell is the playing captain for the women's 35s, Suzanne Lenglen Cup. They are playing at La Costa. They are the #4 seeds. They beat Switzerland today and play Turkey tomorrow. They have a new player on the team, Kelly Wilson, Cameron Park, CA and returning players Patricia Zerdan, Dallas, TX and Carolina Blouin, Raleigh, NC. 

Dailey is a member of the Maria Bueno Cup team, women's 50, which is playing at San Diego Tennis and Racquet Club. They are seeded #1. They had a bye yesterday and beat a good German team today 3-0. Mary played doubles in that match with Tracy Houk, who is from Half Moon Bay, CA. Fran Chandler, Jackson, TN is the captain and Tina Karwasky, Glendale, CA completes the team.

Tabares is the playing captain and #1 player for the Dubler Cup team, men's 45, which is playing at the Morgan Run Resort and Club. The USA beat Canada today 3-0 and play Australia tomorrow.

Link to all USA results: http://carolynnichols.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/draws-seeds-info-on-itf-seniors-in-san-diego-usa-tea​ms-tuesday-order-of-play-opponents-for-usa-teams/

Here are some more links:

Photos of players: https://picasaweb.google.com/Car​olynANichols/ITFWorldSeniorChampionshipsSanDiego?authuser=0&feat=directlink

Draws for Team Championships: http://carolynnichols.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/draws-seeds-info-on-itf-seniors-in-san-diego-usa-teams-tuesday-order-of-play-opponents-for-usa-te​ams/

USTA articles: http://www.usta.com/Play-Tennis/USTA-Adult-Senior-Tournaments/2012_itf_seniors_world_championships/

My blog: www.carolynnichols.wordpress.com






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