August 8th, 2014

Broward Tennis Blog: Rookies Overheat but Cherish Experience at 4.5 Men’s USTA League Sectionals

Men's 4.5 team from Midtown Athletic Club.

Men’s 4.5+ team from Midtown Athletic Club.

The men on the USTA League 4.5+ adult 40 & Over team from the Midtown Athletic Club in Weston were pumped.

After three years together as a team, they finally made it to the USTA Florida League Sectionals in Orlando in mid-July. As the rookie team in attendance, they didn’t know what to expect. Could they prevail and take their winning season all the way to USTA Nationals? Why not?

Their team was a melting pot: members hailed all the way from the Northeastern U.S. to Puerto Rico to Venezuela, and had played all over the world.

Tony Faso, the team’s co-captain, started playing in junior tournaments since the age of 12 in Pittsburgh, and played for the team at Allegheny College. Although they didn’t have an official coach, the team’s two 5.0 members served as player/coaches, and led practices a couple of times a week. The team even dealt pragmatically with their biggest challenge to prevailing at sectionals: learning to master the hard courts.

Although the team’s regular season was on clay, and the championships were on hard courts, no one complained. Instead, the men booked the lone hard court at their home club every night after work, and practiced a different style of play — taking the ball earlier, and being more aggressive in order to win from the net. And then they were ready – but, as it turned out, maybe not ready enough.

Their first challenge was the blistering heat at Altamonte Spring’s Sanlando Park. On the first day, one of the team’s single’s players was winning, but then the unthinkable happened — his legs cramped, then his hands. They had to call 911, and an ambulance had to take him away.

“It gets scary when every muscle is cramping, and it’s dangerous,” said Faso. “We were probably going to win that match.”

But they had to resign and, after three IVs and medication, their player was okay. Everyone realized at that point that they had to be extra careful.

One of the highlights for the team was the return of co-captain, Josue Geigel, to the Orlando heat. Geigel moved to Sweden during the season, but flew back to join the team at sectionals. Thank goodness he did because, after the loss of their single’s player, they really needed him. The rookies didn’t win this time around, but their journey has only just begun.

They were impressed with the high level of play, and how great the guys from the other teams were, both as people and competitors. They know that they need to raise their level a notch. They also learned a key secret regarding what to bring during their planned return trip next year to hopefully clinch a trip to nationals — extra players, and lots of bananas!