By Ryan Wolfington & Mary Maragos
The Men's 3.5 Division, USTA Adult League team from Dragon Ridge Country Club in Las Vegas will be representing the Intermountain Section as well as the Southern Nevada at the national league championships.
They had a perfect imperfect season by winning the USTA-Nevada District, then went on to play against the 6 Intermountain states. Among these 6 states the Dragon Ridge team took first place under the leadership of their captain Mike Dunworth Jr.Now he and his team will compete with the top 17 teams in the country to see who is the national champion. Mike will be joined by team members: Aaron Milmeister, Chris Heavy, Dave Wrobel, Eril Muller, George Kypreos, John Hou, Jon Afalla, Joseph DeSimone, Kevin Chang, Mike Pontillas, Minh Tran, Ken Merkey and Matt Wehe.
According to players on the team here is their Cinderella season story:
When the Dragon Ridge, Henderson, NV 3.5 men's team got together in fall 2009 very little could have been expected of us. We were a brand new team and some of us had never played USTA before. The club was also brand new-a stunning facility overlooking the famous Las Vegas Strip. We won about half our games during that season, but then four key members of the team were bumped up to 4.0. We started the Spring 2010 league with a great new coach, Michelle Domanico, but still with rather limited hopes. We lost our first match of the season 4:1. But then things started to click, we started winning and connecting as a team-encouraging each other, sticking around for the matches in the second time slot, or showing up to cheer for those playing in the first slot. We were hardly dominant-we finished the season 7:3 and literally snuck into the divisional tournament in the last match of the season-we had to win that last match and the team that would have advanced had we lost showed up hoping to watch us lose!
We arrived at the divisional tournament at the Darling Tennis Center in Las Vegas not knowing what to expect and with some of our players dropping out due to injury. We lost the first match of the tournament 3:2 and thought we were out of it. But then things really clicked. We won the remaining four matches. The final match was a 3:2 win against the other contender for a place in the sectional tournament in Salt Lake City.
Just nine of us were left for the trip to Salt Lake City of the more than a dozen players who'd played during the season. We won a very close match against Idaho, 3:2, sneaking victory with a third-set tie-break. We beat Colorado with a little more room to spare. 2-0 at the end of day 1, we started to talk about winning the tournament. In the third match we beat Montana 4:1 and then really started to believe. Those hopes were dashed a little after a tough 3:2 loss to Utah. We went into our final match against Wyoming thinking that a 4:1 win would seal the deal. It turned out we needed to win the match 5-0 and not drop more than a single set. With four matches completed and four straight set wins in the bag we all gathered next to the court where our number two singles match was in a third-set tie break. We were down 7-8, then Joe pulled out three big points in a row to win the tournament. We waited around happily but anxiously after the match while the tournament staff entered all the scores and confirmed that we had won the Mountain West Sectional by virtue of having lost a single set less than Idaho and Utah.
Eight of us are fit and ready to play in the nationals in Tucson and proud to represent Dragon Ridge, the State of Nevada, and the entire Intermountain Section. We're a pretty lucky team from a betting town; you good get good odds on us.