By Sean Shapiro
Special to the TJP
Members of the Texas Team had a confident feeling heading into the Ladies 40 & Over 40 Nationals this past weekend in Orlando.
“I thought our team was gonna win it; we had really good players heading into that, some of the best,” Wendy Holiner said. “Really exciting and a little nervous, but we were ready.”
And they were right.
On Sunday, Texas defeated New England in the finals, completing a successful season as national champions.
“It was so exciting, and we worked very hard for the win,” Linda Leftin said. “Being able to celebrate and win a national championship, it was incredible.”
The team is based out of Oak Creek Tennis Center in Carrollton, and passed each test throughout a difficult, but winning, regular season. The team finished second in their pool with an 8-2 record, and qualified for sectionals.
“The Dallas area has so many good teams, so you had to be your best every week,” Leftin said. “But doing well against those teams, you knew that you could do well against anyone. So we had a good feeling about bigger tournaments after we went through the league here.”
From sectionals the team advanced to state competition and represented the entire Dallas area. At the state championships the team went a perfect 2-0 in flight play, then defeated Fort Worth 5-0 in the semifinals.
“Representing all of Dallas was very big,” Leftin said. “We know how many good teams there are, and that gives you some confidence and pressure at the state level.”
The state championship against Austin was a close 3-2 victory, and one of the best matches of the season.
“That came down to a tiebreak and it was so close,” Holiner said. “Austin always has one of the best teams, so it really wasn’t a surprise that it was close. In the end our team did a great job and just qualifying for nationals was exciting.”
That set the stage for a confident group to finish their march to a national championship in Orlando.
“It was such a great setting,” Leftin said. “The facilities were wonderful, and as a team we knew what we needed to do and played well. Winning (Sunday) was a wonderful feeling, but the whole weekend was great.”
Texas went undefeated in pool play and then battled the Midwest team in the semifinals before beating New England in the championship match.
Nycole Vu captained the team, and the roster also included Danna Bond, Cheri Prichard, Michelle Fitch, Roz Erlewein, Bea Demel, Laura Pyle, Leftin, Stefani McQueary, Holiner, Maureen McCaffrey, Elizabeth Shaw and Rebecca Bridges.
“We enjoyed the entire weekend, we all ate together as a team and a lot of us stayed at the same hotel,” Holiner said. “We have a lot of camaraderie as a team, and I think that really showed. We wouldn’t have won a national title without that type of team atmosphere.”