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A 2.5 USTA League National Championship Experience

November 6, 2008 01:54 AM

Simi Lynch Santoro and her 2.5 USTA Adult League team prepared meticulously for the national championships, which they qualified for in August after winning the Sectional Championships. Their big  trip to Las Vegas, however, resulted in a “what-could-have-been” scenario. To many teams, a very close second-place finish in their flight would have been satisfactory. This team, which played home matches at Pennsbury Racquet Club, had reasons to have high hopes. In the end, it was some cramping and injury that did them in.

The team, which was representing the Middle States section, was tied at 3 wins and one loss with Intermountain in their flight. The criteria then called for the flight to be decided by individual court wins and Intermountain had 9 wins to Middle States’ 8. Their wins were over Intermountain, Northern California, and Hawaii-Pacific. Their loss was to Missouri Valley.

Six players made the trip, and Santoro calls Rosario Rottenborn the star of the weekend as she won each of her matches. Other players besides the captain were Richrile Means, Barbara Mangas, Barbara Martinson, and co-captain Bouchra Heiba.

“When we really think about it, it was a great experience,” said Santoro. “If we had been blown out by every team, but to be that close. If we had all been healthy, there are what-ifs and could-have-beens.”

It was a big commitment for this team of young women and mothers, most of whom are from Yardley, and there were sacrifices.

“We were a rag-tag team. Some players just started playing last fall. Then we started winning and winning and thought ‘this is so great.’ We played every single day to bring everything we could to Vegas. It consumed our lives for months on end. We are not used to losing. I didn’t realize we were that competitive.”

Despite the disappointment, Santoro was very positive about the experience. “We went there with such high hopes, and we definitely really had a good shot. The whole thing was a very positive experience. We had so much fun. I wouldn’t have given it up for anything.”