With all the flack the USTA gets, I have to give them credit for a job well done in running the 40 and Over National Tournament. It was First Class all the way. From the luxurious accommodations at the LaQuinta Walsdorf Asoria Resort, to matches being played where the pros play at the Indian Wells Tennis Center, this was truly an experience of a lifetime.
The USTA goes even further by their actual wrap-up of the weekend and final showdown on their website. See attached links:
In honesty, the past few threads have exhausted me with the multitude of comments and discussions about what it takes to get to Nationals and win, much less just to make an appearance. This weekend I saw living proof that tennis is alive and well across the country. From the shores of Jersey to the flats of Ohio, down to sleepy little towns like Lake Charles, Louisiana, there was talent abroad that made going to play for the first 40 and Over national title an exciting challenge that would not come easy. Going to 3rd set breakers 8 times, the fate of winning or losing came down to a matter of a couple of points.
The chatter on the blog leads you to believe that you can’t have fun and have to be cheating or tanking to make the trip, but this year’s 1st Men’s 40 and over title winners tell you otherwise. This year’s winner tells you that the key ingredients consist of a captain with wisdom, dedication, experience, and good intuition & judgment, teammates that have no egos, that have sincerity, compassion, and a drive to excel, and people who have the ability to share a vision that is far out but are willing to be patient, and slowly chip away towards their goal.
We saw a season that started back in December 2012 and stretched through to Sectionals not being held until September 2013. Memories of matches played in 30 degree temps and blustering winds to sauna like humidity down in San Antonio.
I have been fortunate to twice be a part of a team that has made the trip and has come back home with the hardware. The common thread I see were a bunch of guys that truly had good friendships, respected what each person brought to the table, and truly enjoyed being around each other, both on and off the court.
It truly is an experience of a lifetime to have from the hundreds of thousands of players, and thousands of teams, to have the top players from across the country converge all in one place competing. The USTA "suggests" bringing a small token gift from your state for the players of the opposing team. Of course the ladies have a hey day with this, but is rarely seen to be done by the men. However, our stand-in-captain and singles player, Stephen Graham, decide to bring baseball caps that simply said "Dallas" on the front of them. What I thought was once a hokey gesture turned into brilliance, as all of our competitors truly appreciated the gesture.
On Finals Sunday, (as described by the USTA website, a "dramatic showdown"), players whom were knocked out in flight play, showed up at Indian Wells Tennis Center to come watch the finals. Players and spouses of players, from the Pacific Northwest to Albuquerque, New Mexico were there with their Dallas baseball caps on, cheering for our Dallas team as it entered into a decisive 3rd set showdown. Words can't describe what it is like to see people who you don't even know, pulling for your team, and wearing gear supporting your city.
It then made me wonder, if other competitors whom we played and beat from across the country can pull together and support those whom they just played and advanced, why can't our own city do the same??
I have refrained several times from putting out new threads because the blog has become a place for people to maliciously bash one another. Not what I think the purpose of the blog should be. Perhaps we could refocus our efforts and learn how to make it a more resourceful place to help our teams here in Dallas continue building great teams. Just a thought.
Anyhow, a well deserved toast to Keith Clark, whom if I had to describe with one word, it would be wise. And to my teammates, whom I would describe as friends. Thanks for the good times, and better times ahead. Cheers!!