By Connor Beach
A team of 11 Huntington women recently won 55 and older division of the US Tennis Association League National Championships.
The team traveled last month to the USTA National Campus in Orlando to compete in the championships.
Usually, however, the women can be found practicing and competing at Huntington Indoor Tennis in Huntington Station, said team captain Andrea Woods.
“All these women live within 10 miles of each other,” Woods, of Huntington, said. “We are just a bunch of friends from the area around Lloyd Harbor, Huntington and Centerport.”
After winning the Long Island title, the ladies traveled to upstate Schenectady in September to compete in the eastern sectionals. In Schenectady, the team proved itself as the best in New York and northern New Jersey, claiming one of the 17 sectional qualifying spots for nationals.
“We were super excited to make it to nationals, and I was lucky that 11 of us could go,” Woods said, adding that the team practiced together for two months leading up to Nov. 18-19 trip.
All of the matches at nationals were doubles matches and, as team captain, Woods was tasked with creating what would become the winning partnerships.
“I had to try to pair people together that I thought might compliment each others games, and they just practiced as much as they could together before going,” Woods said.
On Saturday, Nov. 18, the Huntington team advanced out of the group stages on a tiebreaker, edging out teams from the Florida, Southwest and Missouri Valley sections.
The next day, the Huntington ladies easily defeated a team from Texas in the semifinals before a matchup against a strong Northern California-based team in the finals.
The finals consisted of three doubles matches, each played to the best of three sets. Woods said Huntington’s chances of victory did not look good after losing the first match and dropping the first set in the other two matches.
But the tides soon turned.
“Slowly they just started coming back, and it was actually kind of amazing,” Woods said.
Huntington battled back to win the last two matches of the tournament to win the national title.
Woods praised the doubles team of Stacey Margey and Jackie Heise; the duo played and won five matches in Orlando.
Woods said the opportunity to compete against teams from all over the country in the national tennis campus made the weekend a truly unforgettable experience.
She added, “It was so cool when you went into the national campus; the atmosphere was really unbelievable.”