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Mehan Family of Gainesville Readies 3 for USTA League and JTT National Chps.

September 15, 2011 03:44 PM
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Bobbie Mehan (back row, middle), Bonnie O'Brien (back row, second from left) and their championship squad in their near-midnight
team photo
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Lillie Mehan (bottom row, second from right) and the Gainesville 14-Advanced USTA Florida Section champions
After playing USTA League tennis for more than 25 years and never advancing to nationals, Gainesville's Bobbie Mehan suddenly has a family full of national championship contenders in 2011. In the same year Mehan, her sister and her daughter are all advancing to USTA League National Championships in Arizona.

Mehan, the QuickStart 10 and Under Tennis director and assistant pro at the Jonesville Tennis Center in Gainesville, Fla., began playing USTA League tennis out of college in Kansas City. Then it was league tennis in Chicago, Atlanta, and for the last 10 years in Florida.

"Altogether I've played forever and never gotten to a nationals," she says, laughing. "That doesn't seem possible does it, after playing that many years."

Her women's 45-and-over team, including sister Bonnie O'Brien, were unlikely USTA Florida Section champions until enduring a series of tiebreak wins during a rainy weekend at the USTA Florida Adult League Championships in July at the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach.

"We were not favored by any means. We were just excited to [advance to] play on Sunday, much less play in the finals," Mehan said. "It came down to a third-set tiebreaker on the last court for us to win on a Sunday at about 11 o'clock at night [after rain delays]. All the tiebreakers went our way, it was really perfect, it was really close. I think we were taking our [championship team] pictures at 11:15 p.m. that Sunday because of the rain, it was just crazy. There's not too much of a fanbase around at 11:15 on a Sunday night, but that didn't matter."

The sisters Bobbie and Bonnie have played tennis together since high school when their team won the state championship. Bonnie will be the lone player on the team with previous USTA League National Championship experience.

"She did go to nationals one time out of [USTA] Missouri Valley, she got to go to Key Biscayne," Mehan said. "There's actually people on the team that have played longer than me -- there is one lady on the team who says she has played league tennis for over 40 years and never had gone to nationals."

One tradition for USTA teams advancing to league nationals is to present the other teams with a gift, and the Gainesville resident is attempting to keep her Florida Gators football passion in check.

"We're going to come up with something great to represent Florida -- I think we should give something 'Gators,' something Gator-ish, but we are representing Florida and not just Gainesville," Mehan said, laughing.

The team roster also includes Ekanong Van Roy, Larissa Williamson, Mary Cribb, Elizabeth Amdur, Jean Vaughn, Kar Yee Fransham, Preetika Pai, Barbara Rozboril, Kathy Bevis, Margot Markowitz, Deborah Hubbart, Zhoe Solaun, Sierra Solaun, Debbie Bowers and Sandra Phillips.

Also advancing to USTA Jr. Team Tennis Nationals in the 14-Advanced division is Mehan's daughter Lillie.

"I had the additional pressure, because my daughter had already won her sectional weeks before, and I knew she was going to nationals so I had the pressure," Mehan said. "I thought, 'Okay! If she gets to go to nationals, maybe this is my year.' It's just weird that they're both in Arizona a week apart."

For the 14-year-old Lillie it's also a first-time trip to nationals after much of her team recently moved up from the 12-Advanced division.

"This will be the first time going to nationals for everyone on the team," said Lillie, who adds the team has already planned their wardrobe changes.

"We're all planning on wearing the same uniform for every day -- like, on the plane we'll all wear Jonesville or DB [Racquet Club] tennis shirts, and for like the first day we're wearing black and yellow, and the next day we're wearing black-out, like black shirts and shorts or whatever, and the next day yellow and navy," Lillie said. "It's really exciting, because it's our first time ever and it's really fun."

Now all that's left for the family is figuring out flights and stay-overs in Arizona to support one another. The 2011 USTA League 4.5 Adult National Championships will be held Oct. 28-30, 2011 at the Reffkin Tennis Center in Tucson, Ariz., while the 2011 USTA Jr. Team Tennis 14-U National Championships will be held Oct. 20-23 at The Surprise Tennis and Racquet Complex in Surprise, Ariz.

 
 

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