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Florida Blog Final: 2011 USTA League 3.5 National Championships

October 16, 2011 09:28 AM
2011 USTA League 3.5 National Championships Blog

The USTA Florida Broward County Men's 3.5 team, "The Undertakers," who play out of the Lauderdale Tennis Club in Ft. Lauderdale and advanced to USTA League Nationals for the second consecutive year, blogs from the USTA League 3.5 National Championships in Tucson, Ariz.
The-Undertakers-2011-webSaturday, Oct. 15
By Micah Whitley

The Undertakers come into today 1-1 and needing two wins to have a chance to make it to the semifinals. Additionally, we face the Texas team (2-0) in our first match at 7:30am. A win here forces Texas and the Southern Sectional team (2-0) to face off in their final matches both needing a win as well. Again, a loss means...it's over.

The team comes ready and pumped for this match. Keeping the lineups that grabbed us a win yesterday, we feel confident in our ability go play well against this tough Texas team.

- Two hours later -

There's no other way to put it besides...Texas was the better team today. The Undertakers played well from the start; three of the five 1st sets went to us. Texas adjusted quickly, however, taking all five 2nd sets and two of the third sets (the remaining match was defaulted). Texas 4, Florida/Undertakers 1.

What an end to a season. While the loss was definitely disappointing. No heads were hung, no tears shed nor defeated attitudes expressed. Though we wished things had turned out differently, we knew that we deserved to be here and that despite the many factors that we were up against coming here, this experience was necessary to prepare us for the next.

Like we have played, sung and believed all year: we are the Champions! We may have fallen short in this our first try at a National Championship, but there were wins and losses, lessons were learned, injuries and sickness overcome, exhaustion played through, high-fives, a barrage of deafening screams of passion and in our wake, a trail of smiles given, hearts warmed and laughter shared along the way to prove that we truly deserved to be where we are.

The Undertakers -- local, regional and sectional champions -- represented the great tennis-loving state of Florida in prime fashion in our attitude, influence and play. We may not be bringing back any hardware this year but most importantly, we left it all on the court.

So cheers to you team! And cheers to all of those who supported us along the way in whatever manner. A special shout-out to the Tennis Club and their support as our home site. A shout-out also to all those who supported us through our raffle. A huge thank you to all those whose kind words of encouragement and advice propelled us to reach higher heights. As our final team meeting expressed over and over: positivity is what got us here; we couldn't have done this without all of you! We cannot thank all of you enough.

Until next year...

The-Undertakers-2011-webFriday Oct. 14
By Micah Whitley

Finally, the first day of play arrives. I'm not sure if a word exist to describe our feelings at this point. We are excited, ready and pumped yet unsure of what we will be facing and what may lay ahead.

Some of the team enjoys a quick warm-up session at the hotel courts, just enough to get loose and get another feel of the way the ball plays in this thin desert air. The entire team arrives early for our 12:30 match knowing that once our rosters are entered, we can be called onto the court ahead of schedule should courts open up. People mill around the grounds of the Reffkin Tennis Center. Teams are chatting with each other and planning for play. Trainers are on-hand and ready to go should anyone need them. Officials are watching closely their assigned courts more like security personnel than experienced tennis judges (don't we all just love them?). Still, though, its relatively quiet. But as Isaac comments: "Just wait 'til we get on the court."

And soon enough, we are called to enter into battle. Our first opponent: the Southern Section's representative, a team out of New Orleans. Greatly made up of men from Asian countries, it was nice to see another team representing different parts of the world here at the national tournament.

Taking the court in near 100? weather seemed a breeze; we are used to that, right? Sure, except on-court temperature readings reached upwards of 110?. Still, we Undertakers fought.

First to finish were our singles matches. Dwight won but Neville succumbed to exhaustion from the long trip the day before and the heat, losing. This left is at 1-1, needing two doubles wins to pull through.

Doubles team of Marc and Isaac came off the court next having lost a tough battle. Meanwhile, the remaining two teams of Micah and Humphrey and James and Kermit both pushed their matches to a third set after losing their first sets. The drama was on! A few minutes later, however, both teams left the court defeated, neither team could quite get it done.

Undertakers: 0-1.

The loss understandably tipped the team a little off balance, not having lost for a while and knowing that we really should have beat this Southern team. We didn't have much time for evaluation, however, for we played again at 3:30. The team talked about their play; doubles partners communicated about what adjustments to make while singles players refocused themselves for the important match ahead.

Captain Kevin Sims decided it was time for a slight change in line up as well. The changes paid off. The Undertakers fought through cramps and fatigue in the Arizona heat and pulled out a win.

Undertakers 1-1.

This leaves the Undertakers in third place in their group standing and desperately needing to run both matches on Saturday to stay alive.

The team, exhausted and hurting, returned to the hotel to get some rest and re-energize for the important day ahead. Despite the one loss, we feel great about our opportunity to triumph tomorrow!


The Broward/Ft. Lauderdale 3.5 men's USTA Florida Section champions after winning the title at the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach
Thursday, Oct. 14
By Kevin Sims

Well, it has finally arrived. The year-long (did I mention long?) journey from league play through local, regional and sectional playoffs finally comes to an abrupt stop right here in Tucson, Arizona. Long plane rides, a different time zone and a palpably dry, desert heat zone couldn't contain our excitement.

At 6:30p on Thursday, October 12, the team met at the hotel to go over last minute strategy and each say our final words. Starting off with technique and a relaxed, strategy-minded style from the get-go, keeping our heads up, never quitting, playing OUR game, and adjusting was our game plan. "This is it, guys," captain Kevin Sims (USTA Captain of the Month) said. "There will never be another team like this... there will never be another Undertakers." Each teammate gave their version of a mini pep-talk; the reigning theme: we have come too far to stop now; this is our destiny! And that's just what we plan to take into this weekend.

The team broke to take a gander at the Player Party. We found a great dinner and a live crowd of what must have been around 250 people just waiting to be touched by our infectious team energy. It didn't take long before -- in usual Undertaker fashion -- we were the life of the party, dancing, chatting, and laughing our way into the hearts of every player there.

Sleep came easy this night for those tuckered-out by the trip. The anticipation for the days ahead, however, wouldn't let us rest long.





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