A Western New York team has become only the second from the region to win the Sectional Tri-Level Tennis Championships in the last 20 years.
Affectionately known as the WNY Dream Breakers, the team defeated the highly favored New Jersey team and finished 1-1 against the Long Island and New York City teams in White Plains, N.Y., to earn its spot at the Tri-Level National Championships finals March 14-17 in Indian Wells, Calif.
The three teams that WNY played against in the sectionals are able to select their players from a much larger population area than the Western New York team.
In Tri-Level tennis, three doubles teams from each competing team have players competing at Levels 3.5, 4.0 and 4.5.
“The past few years we were competitive in the Tri-Level competition, but we always came up just short," team captain Geoff Becker said. "We were fortunate to add such outstanding players as Michael Rusk, who was a 4.5 player and nationally ranked in college."
Becker, Rusk, Tim Sands, Steve Mendelsohn, Alex Shotell and Alex Dashoff competed in the sectional event. Other than newcomer Rusk, the remainder of that group is comprised of veteran members of the team. Other team members who didn’t make the trip but were an integral part of the team's overall success throughout the season were Gordon Sage, Rob Udy, Marc Reinhardt and John Nussbaumer.
Before reaching the sectional finals, the team had to win two matches against local Buffalo competition. After winning in Buffalo, the Dream Breakers traveled to Syracuse for the regionals. The WNY team defeated teams from Rochester and Syracuse to earn the trip to White Plains.
Becker cited practice and team chemistry as reasons for the team's success.
"We had many practices before the league competitions began," he said. "I would pair up numerous players with other players and would determine which players would be most compatible and give us our best chance of winning. We had great team chemistry and the players were great friends on and off the court.
"Tri-Level players also had players that gave us quite a bit of variety. Some players would serve-and-volley and others would be primarily base-liners. In addition, each player was in phenomenal shape. I think that was especially noteworthy when we won the Sectional Tri-Level Championships."
Questions and answers
Here are responses to more of the questions that I have recently received.
Question: We play mixed doubles twice a week at a local tennis club. On the court next to us a tennis clinic is going on. One of the participants in the clinic yells, “Yeah!” as loud as he can when he hits a good shot. The loud “Yeah” is very disconcerting and throws our games off as we hit our shots. Are there any suggestions as to how to handle this situation?
Answer: I would privately talk to the tennis pro who was teaching the clinic and ask him to make a general statement to the everyone that they shouldn’t yell out loud when they make a good shot as it disturbs players who are playing on adjacent courts.
Question: During a recent doubles match, I returned a shot that one of my opponents said I returned on two bounces and the point should go to her team. I responded that I thought I returned the ball on one bounce and the point should be ours. Who is correct?
Answer: You are correct. Calling a shot that bounced twice can only be called by the person who hit the shot.
Question: How often should I play tennis and how many days a week should I work out at a gym or club?
Answer: Most players whom I play tennis with try to play tennis three times a week. They also try to work out at a gym at least twice a week. Although this might sound excessive, it seems to work out for my playing partners and myself.