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New England Ladies Bring Experience to Nationals

October 29, 2011 06:30 PM
Deborah Larkin, Executive Director of USTA Serves, in action at 4.5 Adult Nationals.
The New England women at the 2011 USTA League 4.5 Adult National Championships.
By Matt Birch, Special to USTA.com

Tucson, Ariz. --- For many tennis players, making it to the National Championships can be a once in a lifetime experience. However many of the women competing this weekend on the New England section team have made reaching Nationals a regular occurrence.

The New England group, known as the "Aces," is captained by Mary Cunningham and plays at the Solaris Racquet Club in Stamford, Conn. This is the third year that this group of ladies has played together, and the squad has progressively improved each year. Two years ago, the team was eliminated during their District tournament, and last season they were eliminated at their Sectional Championships.

This weekend seven of the nine women who are representing New England, have previously competed at a national championship. The team features players with an age span of over 30 years and have jobs ranging from students to teachers to business executives.

Team members Karin Wojciechowski and Deborah Larkin were the first from this group to make it to a National Championship tournament, when they competed together at Nationals in 1995. Sixteen years later they are again back at Nationals, this time competing as doubles partners.

In addition to playing tennis, Deborah works as the Executive Director of USTA Serves, the national charitable foundation of the USTA whose mission is to support, monitor and promote programs that enhance the lives of at-risk children and individuals with disabilities through the integration of tennis and education.

She discussed her excitement about returning to Nationals, and what it these experiences mean to her.

"This is like the U.S. Open for us," she said. "This is a very big deal, and it is very special. The athletic experience and competition is wonderful, but the personal relationships are really what are lasting and special."

Many of the members of the team are also mothers, who frequently attend all of their kids sporting events, and the kids also attend and support their mom’s at their tennis matches.

"I have five boys," Karin said. "I go to all of their sports and school events all the time, and they think it’s so wonderful that their mom does something like this. They are really proud and its good for them to see too."

Overall, all of these women are great role models for their kids with a perfect balance of staying active in athletics, good sportsmanship and a lot of success on the tennis courts.

With their victory in their Saturday afternoon match, the Aces have advanced to the semi-finals round of the tournament on Sunday, where they will have a chance to add more great memories to their National Championship experiences.
Click here for more stories from the 2011 USTA League National Championships.


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