|Chance to be better players lands local duo in nationals |
|Posted: Tuesday, November 8, 2011 7:02 pm |
| By KEVIN WEAKS |
Judy McBride and Elizabeth (Mooney) Miller just wanted to get better.
Now, they are among the nation’s best.
The two local tennis players are members of an adult mixed doubles team that will play in the United States Tennis Association national tournament Friday through Sunday in Tucson, Ariz.
McBride and Miller joined the Purchase Area 7.0 team at the urging of Boone Lane, a young go-getter who excels in forming tennis teams for competitive play.
“We both went into it with the attitude that it would make us better players,” McBride said.
While they were getting better, they were also helping to turn their team into one of the best in the nation.
McBride and Miller joined a team that also includes Lane, Jonathan Miller, Amy Lockwood, Ben Walker, Chad McAlpin, Addey Griffo, Jamie Folz, Blair Lane Brockman, Tyler Brockman, Michael D’Elia, Howard Dick, Jeffery Fulcher, Jamie Hayden, Lauren Hughes and Jonathan McCrady.
Lane learned of McBride and Miller, playing partners for about 11⁄2 years, by their scores posted on the USTA’s website. Keeping up with the duo through their play as part of Janice Faulk’s team, Lane eventually called Seth Rhenberg, another local longtime tennis player.
Apparently getting rave reviews from Rhenberg, the two ladies were then contacted by Lane, McBride first and then Miller. Both were impressed by his enthusiasm and confidence — “his goal was to win a state championship and go to sectionals,” McBride recalled — and agreed under the condition that they would play at the same times, enabling them to travel together.
The team completed its regular season and then won the state tournament at Murray in early September, advancing to the Southeastern Sectionals in Georgia.
The semifinal match at state was both exciting and nerve-wracking for McBride.
Serving with a 6-5 lead in the second set and a 30-love advantage in the game, McBride and Jonathan Miller then had to wait out a 40-minute weather delay as play in the match was stopped due to lightning.
McBride took a walk along a track at the Murray tennis complex to settle her nerves, collect her thoughts and form her strategy for serving.
Warm-ups did nothing for her confidence, however, as she could not get the ball over the net, and she then faulted on her first serve attempt. The second produced a point, though, and then after their opponents scored to make it 40-15, McBride’s serve and her partner’s return finished the match and gave the team its state championship.
From there, McBride and Miller found out first-hand just how big that next round was.
Playing at the picturesque John Drew Tennis Center in Macon, Ga., a 24-court complex in surrounded by pine trees, the two locals walked down to the courts from the parking lot.
“We were walking shoulder-to-shoulder and looked at each other and said, ‘This is a really big deal,’” McBride said.
The Kentucky state champions advanced through the sectional field by beating South Carolina, a well-dressed Louisiana team that had already made it known to all of their matching attire for the finals, Tennessee-Memphis and Alabama to reach the finals. Then, surrounded by a boisterous crowd, the Bluegrass contingent toppled Tennessee-Knoxville 2-1 for the sectional title and berth in nationals.
In that finals match, the two Millers — Elizabeth and Jonathan — played relaxed, thinking their team had already lost the other two matches, and went on to win the first set in a tiebreaker and the second set 6-2.
Just happy to receive T-shirts following most tournament wins, the team was surprised to be awarded individual crystal trophies with a crystal tennis ball set in the center.
The team’s schedule is set for the national championship tournament.
Beginning play on Friday, Kentucky will face the Caribbean team, which includes Puerto Rico, at 8 a.m. and the Northern team (based in Rochester Minn., and representing Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin) at 2 p.m. The locals will then play Florida at 9:30 a.m. Saturday. The semifinals will be Sunday at 8 a.m., followed by the championship match at 10 a.m.
McBride will fly out on Thursday morning; Miller is slated to leave that night.
“It’s very exciting,” McBride said. “It’s really a great thing for Elizabeth and the Union City (High School) tennis team. She’s the coach, and what a fine example she’s setting for her team. She is showing her players by example how hard work and dedication can pay off.” Published in The Messenger 11.8.11