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Missouri Valley team is Iowa nice

November 5, 2016 09:02 PM

By Cory Kamerschak, special to USTA.com

SURPRISE, ARIZ. – Good sportsmanship is something that is taught at the youth level of almost every sport. All too often, though, that mentality fades away as the level of competition the stakes get higher.

But that isn’t the case for Heather Sundermann and her 8.0 mixed doubles team competing at the USTA League 40 & Over 6.0 & 8.0 National Championships in Surprise.

Sundermann and her team are from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and represent the Missouri Valley section. Cedar Rapids only brought six team members this weekend but have received a “good sportsmanship” pin from its opponents after every match.

“There’s a term called ‘Iowa nice’ and I think that holds true,” said Sundermann. “We just love the game and we play to have fun.”

Sundermann’s partner, Tom Neff, has been playing tennis for 33 years and said the game of tennis is a “gentleman’s and gentlewoman’s sport.” He believes most opponents he plays against also conduct themselves that way.

“My partner and I believe that USTA tennis is about having fun and being competitive and we try to do that in every match we play,” said Neff.

Missouri Valley’s final match came down to the wire against a team from the Hawaii-Pacific region. But even in the tensest of moments, both sides were all smiles and complimenting each other.

Lyn Joson, who played against Sundermann and Neff in the final match, said she enjoyed the sportsmanship and competitiveness displayed by the Missouri Valley squad.

“They compete hard but yet they acknowledge good shots,” she said. “They treat you like a friend rather than an opponent.”

Joson also felt that Missouri Valley’s positive energy rubbed off on her team and made for a much more enjoyable experience.

“We are normally like that, too, but they just brought it out more,” Joson said. “Can you imagine playing a team with bad attitudes and giving sour faces?”

Everyone was all smiles even in the final moments of the match when both sides knew the loser would likely be heading home. After the match was over and Hawaii had sealed the victory in a third set tie-break, both sides gave each other hugs. Even team members who weren’t playing in that particular match came onto the court to show gratitude.

“They are still winners,” said Joson.