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The 18th Time is a Charm

October 28, 2011 06:18 PM
Jan Bulls serving during her match at the 2011 USTA League 4.5 Adult National Championship.
Jan Bulls in action with her teammate at the 2011 USTA League 4.5 Adult National Championships.
By Adam Kempa, Special to USTA.com

Tucson, Arizona – For 17 consecutive years Jan Bulls made it to the USTA Adult 4.5 League sectionals with her team from the small town of Tyler, Texas, and for 17 straight years that was where her season came to an end.  This year however, on her 18th try, her team was able to overcome the odds and capture victory in the hotly contested Texas sectional, making it to the National Championships in Tucson for the first time in her career.

 "The first thing I felt when we finally won sectionals was just an overwhelming, almost indescribable exuberance," Jan said, "It was just a surreal feeling to finally get over the hump and make it here to Nationals.  The whole team is very excited, and we are enjoying the beautiful weather here in Tucson, and just having fun and supporting each other."  Jan’s team also includes her daughter, and her daughter’s best friend, who both play singles. 

When asked how difficult it has been to come close so many times, to fall just short at the end, Jan responded, "Often times we felt like a little fish in a big pond, having to compete against the huge cities like Dallas and Houston."  Tyler only has one league, so they play the same teams the whole year, and don’t get a chance to play the top notch competition from the bigger cities.  She never got discouraged, although sometimes it felt like a foregone conclusion that they wouldn’t make it past sectionals.  "Some years it would feel like, ‘okay another year in sectionals, where are we gonna eat this weekend," she said jokingly. 

Their road to nationals was paved with a lot of good fortune, as 10 of their matches in Sectionals went to third set tiebreakers, so they could have gone either way.  Perhaps this is a fateful year for Jan and her team, as they continued their hot streak of late, winning their first two matches on Friday.  They face off against the team from the Southwest region and Hawaii tomorrow in an effort to qualify for the semifinals on Sunday.  Hopefully they found some good places to eat in Tucson in the meantime.
Click here for more stories from the 2011 USTA League 4.5 Adult National Championships.


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