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Love for tennis is winning combination for New England women

October 22, 2016 04:57 PM

By J. Fred Sidhu, special to USTA.com

LA QUINTA, CALIF. – The streak continues for the New England Section women’s team at this year’s USTA League Adult 40 & Over 4.5 National Championships. The team from Natick, Mass., is making its fifth consecutive appearance in a USTA League National Championship.

When the team was first formed in 2012, it captured the title at the 18 & Over 4.5 National Championships in Tucson, Ariz., and finished runner-up in 2013 at the 40 & Over 4.5 Nationals in Indian Wells. Although their roster has changed over the years, current team captains Maureen Sumner and Hope Pascucci have been with the team, which plays at the Natick Racquet Club, since the very beginning.

“It’s just been getting a lot of great women together,” said Sumner. “We love tennis. We support each other. We’ve been able to field teams with positive and dedicated people. We just have a lot of fun together.”

As she spoke about the challenges of reaching the USTA National Championships for five straight years, Sumner added, “We realize and appreciate how special it is. We’ve dealt with some injuries. We’ve definitely had our obstacles along the way, but we just try and stay positive. Having fun is always first and foremost on our list.”

Being part of the championship team in 2012 will always be special for Pascucci, a resident of Needham, Mass., in part because of how the women won the title. They were only able to field the minimum number of players, which meant there were no substitutes available in the event of injury or fatigue.

“We went with eight people, which was dangerous. But it also simple in a way because everyone played every match, so there wasn’t any thought about lineups,” said Pascucci. “Winning any competitive sport on a national stage is a pretty cool thing and we’re certainly proud of that.”