Local netters ace the competition|Win USTA state championship

Published 10:32 pm Saturday, June 12, 2010

By By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
After conquering the courts during the United States Tennis Association (USTA) state championship games at the Washington Racquet Club last week, the mens 3.5 senior team will be headed to Birmingham, Ala., to compete for the Southern Section Championship in July.
The team consists of Richard Hodges, Gil Davis, Jeff Fenton, Tom Richter, Mike Gray, Tom Quarnstrom, Dick Brown, Brownie Futrell, David Norwood and Dennis O’Neal. In late July, they will clash with several other highly skilled amateur squads in hopes of taking home a sectional title and moving on to the national championship.
The USTA is a prestigious organization that was formed in 1881 when it was first called the United States National Lawn Tennis Association, according to Marianna M. Dunn, the league’s Marketing, Promotions and Communications Coordinator. The North Carolina chapter was formed in 1973.
Dunn estimated that there are more than 325,000 players in the USTA throughout the country, and over 600 senior teams in North Carolina.
The qualifications for the USTA are fairly simple.
“Our league programs only require the willingness to play tennis and risk becoming addicted,” Dunn joked vial e-mail. “But in all seriousness, the USTA League program is for women and men ages 18 and older of all abilities and experience, with a valid USTA membership (which runs for about $42 per year). Whether they are new to the game or a former player, there’s a spot for everyone.”
To keep the competitive playing field even, the USTA employs a ratings system for the players and teams.
“Teams and matches are set up according to NTRP ratings, so teammates and opponents will be at the same skill level,” Dunn said. “Ratings go from a beginner level at 2.0 to professional at 7.0. Recreational players are usually between 2.5 and 5.0, with the bulk of players around the 3.5/4.0 rating level.”
While the mens 3.5 senior team faced a lot of great players at the Washington Racquet Club, they will clash with tons of the best netters from the lower portion of the United States come July.
“There will be over 2,000 players from nine states that will compete in the USTA League Southern Section Championships,” Dunn said. “Which is approximately 200 teams.”