Monday, October 31, 2011

Saturday - Day 2 of Nationals -

(Just a note:  For those driving through the vast, expanse deserts of Arizona and New Mexico, cellular coverage is more than spotty.  It has taken me since 10 AM this morning to complete this entry working more hours than I would like to count.)

We were up for an early pre-match warm up at 7:15 AM at Deep Canyon Tennis Club and then on to our USTA official team photo at 8:15 AM at Indian Wells.  We were fortunate enough to play our first match in nice cool weather at 9:00 AM.  After our big win against Mid West we all went to cool down, eat, hydrate, hydrate and hydrate and relax a little before our next match at 3:30 pm.
Sparks Shout Out from our pool between matches.   Ruth, Cindy and Maureen with our team mascot, Sandy, in her "Sparky" pink suit providing us with yet another "gut-wrenching" laughable moment!!!

On to our 3:00 PM match against Texas in the heat of the day - 91 degrees (translates to around 100 in the beating down sun, no clouds, no breeze and tennis courts that have been warming up for you all day long)!! 

Some shots of Ann and Bodhi making it happen at 1st doubles! 

Bodhi ready for action!

Sheila and her amazing focus!

Mary serving it up big for a win!

Happy, happy faces!!  

While yesterday was a little disappointing, we had an awesome day today!   The Sparks hung tight and won both of our matches  against Mid-West and Texas so we ended with a 3-1 record in our flight giving us 2nd place out of 5 teams in our flight. WAY TO GO TEAM!!

Team pics of the 2nd place team in Flight 3!

Bodhi Borer, Ann Zinsmeister, Maureen Hayes-Mitchell, Me, Mary Oliver, Ruth Sikora,
 Sheila Coughlin and our AMAZING Coach, Gyata Storman

Not only is this an awesome looking group of women, but note the beauty in the background.  To look out upon those mountains as you were giving it your all in a match was almost overwhelming at times.  Just to be there was a blessing in itself.  A feeling beyond words!

My biggest fan and my sweetie!!

Happy times for Ruth and Bodhi

Ruth's biggest fan and sweetie!

Ann's husband, Karl, showing his support for the team by providing some much needed shade!

Our Team Managers - they stuck in there with us through it all.  They made sure we all had what we needed at all times from nourishment and hydration to being our fans in the stands giving a "Go Sparks" shout out just when we all needed.  And, as we all know, it is so much harder to watch a match than to play in one.  We  can't thank you enough, Mike and Larry, for all of your dedication and support of our success!!  

My dear cousin Sandy who flew in from Maryland to surprise me, and that she did!  We learned the game of tennis together at our local park when she was 8 and I was 12 and we played together for years as we grew up.   Before my first match she said to me, "remember our first instructor who taught us "bounce - hit"?   Use that when you need it and it will center you."  That I did and I can't thank her enough for being there for me and for providing us all with more laughs than we thought possible!!! 


So after a day of success, it was time to celebrate and that we did!  La Quinta Resort and Club was our venue.  The pictures can't begin to do it justice.  It was beautiful.  It was a huge outdoor courtyard restaurant, unlike anything we could have in the Northeast.  Once again, the "fun meter" was off the charts with dancing, dining, drink, laughter, tears and Margarita's the size of fishbowls!!!!!

Mary flashing her muscle!

Me flashing my "lack" of muscle!


It was a great ending to an amazing day!

Stay tuned for the finals.


Friday, October 28, 2011

It's Show Time !!! Day 8

We started our day out with a Shout Out from Ruth's cat, Charlie!!! 

Well, 5:45 AM came pretty early this morning!  Off to the courts to warm-up at 6:30 AM so we could begin our match at 7:30 AM.  It was Sparks vs. Florida and Sparks were victorious!!!!!!  It was a great match and great tennis for all of us.

Check out the scenery in the background.   Hard to believe that it's real.  What an amazing opportunity for all of us to be here!

Cindy and Mary getting it done!

Bodhi going for a backhand.  Look at that form!!

Happy Faces!!!!

Spent some time cooling down after the match, hydrating, hydrating, hydrating and discussing strategy for our next match at 10:30.

 Our next match was Sparks vs. Mid-Atlantic (Virginia).  More awesome tennis, but not as happy an outcome.  While it wasn't what we had hoped for, we all played very well with some third-set tie-breakers.  Tomorrow brings another exciting day.  Tomorrow's results will dictate if we go into the finals on Sunday.   Send good vibes our way!  Stay tuned.       

A day of practice and partying!! - Day 7- Thursday

Well, it is time to buckle down to some serious tennis and that we did. Started the day with a 7:30 AM practice and again at 12:00 noon. We needed to check out the position of the sun and its effects on our play and also the heat quotient. The temperatures are in the mid 80's, blue, blue skies, a slight breeze and absolutely no humidity. Our first matches are Friday at 7:30 AM and 10:30 AM. We are all prepping by hydrating, hydrating and hydrating!!!

The evening brought an awesome event at the Miramonte that was hosted by USTA for all players and their spouses. The place was incredible, the food outstanding and the dancing outrageous as you can gather from the pictures!!! Mary's fun meter was off the scale!!!!

The Sparks are ready!!!  Stay tuned.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

We made it ALLLL the way! Day 6

Long Beach, CA - the birthplace of Larry Underriner.   So, 54 years later, Larry returns to his birthplace for the first time since he left at the age of 3 months.


Larry's First home!!

St. Mary's Hospital where he came into the world!

While the neighborhood has changed quite a bit in 54 years,the emotion of returning to it still held a surreal feeling for Larry when he arrived.

 So, we were on the road again, from Indian Wells to Long Beach then headed to Manhattan Beach to get our first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean. 


Of course we had to get our feet in there just so we could say we went all of the way!

We then continued up Route 1 along the coast through Venice, Santa Monica, and Brentwood.
We encountered our first experience with LA traffic as we sat for two hours and moved .2 of a mile. It was quite an experience until Cindy's cousin Pat came to the rescue via cell phone and told us how to get out of it. We think we would probably still be there if it wasn't for her!

Sparks Shout Out from Santa Monica!

Santa Monica Beach

And, there was no way we were going to drive across the country and not get a chance to visit Cindy's favorite aunt, Dot, and her cousin Pat in Studio City.  Had an awesome dinner at The Napa Grill in LA with Dot and Pat and we were given a HUGE surprise.  Cindy's cousin Sandy, who has been her "partner in crime" in tennis since the age of 8, had flown to LA from Eastern Shore, MD to surprise Cindy by coming to attend the Nationals and cheer on the Sparks.  To say the least, Cindy was reduced to a blubbering puddlle!!!

It was an awsome day that will be etched in our memories forever - seeing so many places that we truly thought that we might never see. 
Now, it is time to settle down to some serious tennis.   Stayed tuned for day-to-day coverage of the Sparks progress. GOOOOO SPARKS!!!!!!!!!!!      


We have arrived and Indian Wells is beyond gorgeous!!

Well, the drive across the Arizona desert was an experience.  While it only took us 4 hours to drive from Phoenix, it was hours of NOTHING but sandy desert and huge mountains way off in the distance.  Amazingly, as you can see from the pictures, there were small areas scattered throughout the desert of RV communities.  Larry and I both agree, you will not see us becoming snowbirds to the Arizona desert anytime soon!

Sparks Shout Out from the middle of the Arizona Desert.

YESSSSSSSS!!!!!  We made it to California!!!!  But not until border patrol sniffed us out for illegal alien transport!

Indian Wells is beyond beautiful and the Tennis Garden is amazing!!!!

View from the Tennis Garden

Loving our "desert hideway" with an unbelievable view of the mountains from our backyard pool and spa.

View from our backyard.

Just sitting under our very own lemon, lime and grapefruit trees.

Check out our shower that looks out over our courtyard! Takes some getting used to! 

Met the team for an afternoon practice.  The sun shown bright without a cloud in the sky, mid 80's with a slight breeze.  Perfect tennis weather!! 

Happy to finally be here!!  GO SPARKS!!!!!!