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Pacific Northwest's Cantine continues spirited comeback

October 22, 2016 04:37 PM

By J. Fred Sidhu, special to USTA.com

LA QUINTA, CALIF. – During USTA League matches, there are many times when a team comes back from a large deficit to win a match. At this weekend’s USTA League Adult 40 & Over 4.5 National Championships at the La Quinta Resort & Club, there is a much more significant comeback taking place.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Tom Cantine of Sammamish, Wash., played intercollegiate tennis for Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pa.  Later in life, he began running marathons and competing in triathlons, focusing his efforts on being a tri-athlete,

But earlier this year, the 47-year-old Cantine began to notice changes in his body.

“I unexpectedly lost over 20 pounds and I was having trouble exercising at a higher intensity level. I wasn’t sure what was going on,” he explained. “I was tested and diagnosed with Graves’ disease, which I had never heard of. It’s an auto-immune disease that affects the thyroid.”

Cantine went on medication to stabilize his weight and had to stop his high-intensity exercise regimen as he began his road to recovery. As a result of having to change his lifestyle, Cantine began playing tennis again.

“I started taking lessons and realized that the whole sport had changed, from strokes to technology. Slowly, I played more and more,” said Cantine, who joined the Pacific Northwest men’s team at the Mercer Island Country Club in Mercer Island, Wash.

“It’s been a blast. Throughout the season and throughout the year, I’m feeling better and better physically. It’s awesome to be out here. I’m just taking it step by step. I had no idea that it would result in being on a team and coming to Nationals.”

Cantine said he is fully out of the woods yet, but is hopeful of making a full recovery. Regardless, his comeback has been far from overlooked by his teammates.

“It really puts the game of tennis in perspective," said team captain Kirk Dawson. "When you’re around individuals who have their own personal adversity and challenges, it makes you appreciate the time you have with people and the enjoyment of being on the court and playing together. At the beginning of the season, [Cantine] wasn’t even sure he was going to be able to play. We’re there to support him and celebrate the accomplishments he’s had this season.”