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Local Women's Team Competes in Midwest Sectional Championship

September 5, 2013 09:03 AM
NMI 4.5 Women
What began in April with a search for tennis players to form a women's 4.5 league team, and continued into a summer of competition, ended Sunday, August 19th for local players.
When it comes to competing in the USTA Tennis League, Northern Michigan usually has a hard time finding enough players at that level to form two teams for competition. And two teams are needed to compete or a team cannot advance. But this year was different. Two players, who met in February, at The BOB (a Traverse City tournament and college scholarship program for tennis players) talked about trying to put together a team.
Well, they succeeded. The local league coordinator, Ruth Smith (Alden), got them started by sending them the names of players at the 4.5 level, and tirelessly answered question after question from the first-time captains. In addition to the list, co-captains Jen Gerling (Traverse City) and Betsy Netherton (Glen Arbor) reached out to friends they had met over the years and put together a team that advanced beyond what others thought possible.
They began their season by winning two of the three local matches against a team from the Petoskey/Harbor Springs area to win the District playoff. Next they won, with a narrow 3-2 victory, over a South Eastern Michigan team to win the State Championship and advance to the Midwest Sectional competition in Indianapolis, IN. There they played against other teams, who were representing Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Despite getting off to a controversial start in their first match, they played hard, yet lost the match. Undeterred, they bounced back and won the next match. But, the competition proved too tough for them in their final two matches.
What makes the team unique is not just their winning attitude and competitive spirit, but how diverse the team of players is. They are not just wives, mothers and grandmothers, who love to play tennis, but all accomplished professionals: An Orthodontist, Chemist at Pfizer, a Spa Owner, a Writer, an Entrepreneur, a Banker, a Social Worker, a Medical Sales Representative, a Lawyer. Many of these players originally met each other as competitors. But over the years became friends, practice partners, and fellow league team members.
But who are the players? They are Sara Bergsma (Traverse City), Terri Counterman (Kalamazoo), Maryann Fouch (Traverse City), Natalie Hazen (Freeland), McKenzie Magee (Lake Leelanau), Jessica Murphy (Traverse City and Grand Rapids), Cathy O'Connor (Traverse City), Sherry Sanford (Kalamazoo), and Mary Voeks (Maple City and Naples, FL).
This year's season may be over, but friendships were made, the list of local hitting partners grew, and the players are already looking ahead to next year's competition.