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A Trip To Nationals

Sports Feature

3.5

Bellevue Club’s 3.5 women’s tennis team: placed third. Sherie Bernardez captained the team.

Reflections: What does playing tennis add to your life?
Sherie Bernardez: Tennis is something I do for myself, not for my kids or husband. It’s brought an entire new set of friends into my life. My husband always asks me: “This is your eleventh year captaining your tennis team, isn’t it time for you to pass on the duties to someone else?” I always reply: “I love my tennis ladies. I do put in a lot of work tracking everyone’s availability and scheduling our tennis matches, but these ladies appreciate all I do and always thank me.”

RM: What was the highlight of the trip to Nationals?
SB: Our entire trip to Nationals was like a dream—10 ladies in our 40s and 50s eating, sleeping, playing and laughing together for four days. Our dinners together were a highlight. Being able to relax and enjoy each other’s company before the frenzy of each match was so fun.

RM: What did you learn about yourself as an athlete?
SB: It was 90 to 100 degrees during Nationals, and I was able to survive the heat and play in all five matches. Coming from Seattle, I didn’t know if I would be able to handle the environment, but I hydrated and brought plenty of ice, water and Gatorade to the courts. I was pleasantly surprised my body withstood the elements and I had no physical issues during the tournament. In fact, this pertains to the entire team. I also learned that as the captain, I am competitive and highly analytical. I had stats and a spreadsheet on each team we competed against.

RM: What will you do differently next time?
SB: I’m not sure I would do anything differently. Every player had a wonderful attitude and was positive and supportive. We practiced tennis outdoors all summer so we were prepared for the sun and heat. Bellevue Club Tennis Director Brian Nash and tennis pros Zuzana Brogdon, Perry Elsasser and Ross Eaton ran special clinics to prepare us. We could not have done it without their support.

Leslie Fine Bernstein played on the 3.5 women’s tennis team.

Reflections: What does playing tennis add to your life?
Leslie Fine Bernstein: Moving from Florida to Seattle 13 years ago, my priority was getting my children settled and happy first, and then I joined the Bellevue Club to play tennis. Playing tennis helped me find some wonderful girlfriends. It also provided an outlet for my competitive side. I encouraged my kids to learn as well, so now I can play with my 21- and 25-year-old sons. It’s great having something in common to do together.

RM: What was the highlight of the trip to Nationals?
LFB: My best memory is how well we all got along. Everyone was willing to play wherever our captain placed us. I loved the warmth of Arizona, even when we played in 98 degrees. Pickle juice came in handy for dehydration scares and towel wraps with ice for our necks.

RM: What did you learn about yourself as an athlete?
LFB: I learned that even in the most intimidating, competitive environment, I could remain calm, play tennis and enjoy it.

RM: What will you do differently next time?
LFB: Freeze our time together. I loved getting to know all my teammates off the court and on. Now back in Seattle, we are all dispersed on different teams, but we have that special bond from our trip and such wonderful memories.

Kathleen Lewis played on the 3.5 women’s tennis team.

Reflections: What does playing tennis add to your life?
Kathleen Lewis: There’s always something new for both my body and brain to learn, so it gives me fun mental and physical challenges. It’s also a great social outlet.

RM: What was the highlight of the trip to Nationals?
KL: The highlight for me was getting to know the women better throughout the season. They are all strong, kind and determined women juggling full lives and making time for tennis while working toward a common goal. Each teammate had a different attribute to bring to the team.

RM: What did you learn about yourself as an athlete?
KL: How much I enjoy the process of learning and improving.

RM: What will you do differently next time?
KL: Win my last match.

Kate Casprowiak Scher played on the 3.5 women’s tennis team.

Reflections: What does playing tennis add to your life?
Kate Casprowiak Scher: So much! It is the perfect balance of exercise, self-improvement and social camaraderie. You meet new people with a shared passion, plus it’s healthy and fun. I feel so lucky to have met such a great group of women and men on the court; they are truly wonderful people.

RM: What was the highlight of the trip to nationals?
KCS: There were lots of wonderful memories, so it is hard to select one. My personal highlight was when I won my fourth match. It was Sunday morning, and we were one match away from going to the finals. Our match was at 7:30 a.m. Somehow, I did not set my alarm and I woke up at 7:00 a.m. After frantically getting to the courts (big thanks to Carla Iafrate), I made it to the tournament desk just in time to check in for my match. It was by far the toughest match of the tournament for me. I lost the first set, won the second, and then won the third set tie-break 10-8. I had to fight the whole time and came through with the win—it felt good!

Another highlight from that match was looking over to the bleachers and seeing my 20-month-old son, Spencer, sitting down and watching his mom battle it out on the court. Priceless.

RM: What did you learn about yourself as an athlete?
KCS: This is a great question. I feel so grateful for going to nationals because it gives you an opportunity to learn about yourself as a competitor. I learned that I don’t give up and that mental focus is monumental. I played five singles matches in those three days (some in 97 degree heat). Three of those five matches went to third-set tiebreak. I came out on top with the win every time. I felt like some of the women I beat hit the ball better than me. Tennis, however, is a game of tidal shifts. You have to know when to attack and when to be patient. In the end, I turned on the aggression at the right time … though some of my teammates might say I waited a little too long (ha!).  Meaning, I think it was my third match I was down 0-4 in the first set and 1-4 in the second. I ended up winning that match 6-4, 6-4, so I won six straight games in the first and then five straight games in the second set. I am not sure exactly what this says about me as a player except that I don’t give up.

RM: What will you do differently next time?
KCS: Set my alarm every morning. And schedule a wake-up call as a back up.

3.0

Bellevue Club’s 3.0 women’s tennis team placed eleventh. Christine Bloch captained the team.

Reflections: What does playing tennis add to your life?
Christine Bloch: It challenges me to work and improve at something I enjoy and be competitive. It’s also brought me friends with similar interests.

RM: What was the highlight of the trip to Nationals?
CB: Being with a fabulous group of ladies who worked hard and never gave up even in the humidity on the clay courts.

RM: What did you learn about yourself as an athlete?
CB: As an athlete, I found that I was actually calm under pressure.

RM: What will you do differently next time?
CB: Arrive a day earlier so we can be better prepared.

Heidi Scalzo played on the 3.0 women’s tennis team.

Reflections: What does playing tennis add to your life?
Heidi Scalzo: I used to swim competitively, so tennis brings back the excitement and adrenaline of competition while meeting awesome new people and friends. It’s also a great workout and I have a blast playing mixed doubles with my husband, Chris, and hitting with my 13-year-old son, Jake, who is on the Bellevue Club junior elite tennis team.

RM: What was the highlight of the trip to Nationals?
HS: Sharing the intense and fun experience at Nationals with my amazing team both on and off the court. Jumping in the ocean in our tennis gear after our last evening match was a great grand finale.

RM: What did you learn about yourself as an athlete?
HS: That I still love competing as a mom of two teens—and that I need to stretch a lot more than I used to. Also, that I still have a lot to learn about this sport and can’t wait for more fun on the courts.

RM: What will you do differently next time?
HS: Know to be more mentally prepared for the unexpected. It was tough to get up early to play our first match and then have to wait five hours to play due to a major rain delay. I had to be mentally flexible and prepared to roll with anything.

Jackie Wilkinson played on the 3.0 women’s tennis team.

Reflections: What does playing tennis add to your life?
Jackie Wilkinson: I formed many new friendships through the teams I have played with. It also feels wonderful at my age to be playing such an active sport and to continue learning and honing my skill set.

RM: What was the highlight of the trip to Nationals?
JW: It was amazing to see how nice and respectful all the players and teams were even as we competed against each other. The level of camaraderie between us felt elevated and genuine, despite our not ever having met before.

RM: What did you learn about yourself as an athlete?
JW: I learned how nervous I can become before a match starts and how the only thing, for me, that calms me down is to start playing.

RM: What will you do differently next time?
JW: I would definitely arrive earlier to acclimate better.

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