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Team Southwest Brings Home Tri-Level National Crown

March 25, 2009 06:19 PM

BNP Paribas Tri-Level Championships
Indian Wells Tennis Garden - Indian Wells, Calif.
March 20-22, 2009

2009 BNP Paribas Tri-Level Champions: Team Southwest (Tournament Director Tom Fey and USTA Southwest League Coordinator Bill Lucero also pictured).

Team Southwest - a combo team of Arizona men and Greater El Paso Tennis Association women - brought home the BNP Paribas Tri-Level Championships, held March 20-22 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, Calif.

The team endured tough matches in six separate compass draws and winds in excess of 45 mph in Indian Wells, but prevailed with a championship-clinching victory over two-time defending champion USTA Southern California.

The BNP Paribas Tri-Level Championships was held at the same time and on the same courts as the BNP Paribas Open, one of the world's premier professional tennis events. It is the de facto USTA National championship for the Tri-Level format.

The BNP Paribas Nationals brought together co-ed teams from 14 different USTA Sections to play in a compass draw format of doubles-only team matches. 

Each Section's team W
ere comprised of Men's and women's teams in the 3.5, 4.0 and 4.5 NTRP ratings. 

Scoring for the event was based on:
   *Players playing as doubles tandems in their NTRP rating, and matches were two out of three sets with a Coman tiebreaker to decide.
   *Each team in each gender and NTRP playing a mini-tournament with a compass draw to determine a point total for a bracket score 
   *Scored by points won in each gender NTRP bracket were then added to make one USTA Section's team score based on where they finished in each compass draw.

After two and a half days of play, Team Southwest miraculously finished tied with Southern Cal after all NTRP brackets had been completed - both with 59 points apiece.

To determine a winner, the Tournament Committee set the two teams to play a 10-point tiebreak in all six lines (3.5 Men, 3.5 Women, 4.0 Men, 4.0 Women, 4.5 Men, 4.5 Women) to determine a champion. Southwest ended the dramatic weekend with victories in all six lines to clinch the title.

"We had a great time, and it was a pretty wild finish," said McNeill, who captained the men's team. "The play was a little tricky on the last day, though. It was horrific wind (gusts up up to 50 mph). There were times it took the chairs off the stadium courts - fold up heavy wood chairs, not the plastic ones, and blew them onto the courts. We had some of our guys serving underhanded just to get the ball in, but they all played tough, and we came out with the win."

Team Southwest's men were largely from the Phoenix area but also had individual members from Tucson and Sedona. The team was captained by Dane McNeill (4.5), Garth Guibar (3.5), James Munoz (3.5), Joe Johnson (4.5), Omar Garcia (3.5), Rick Bonafasi (3.5), Scott Goodman (4.0), Thien Ngo (4.5), Vernon Rhone (4.0), Matthew Rhone (4.0) and Jonathan Levy (4.5).

Team Southwest's women were from the El Paso/Juarez, Mexico area and included captain Leila Lobato (3.5), and players Patty Rincon (3.5), Paola Mendoza (3.5), Claudia Calderon (4.0), Artemisa Delgado (4.0), Erika Herrara (4.0), Sandra McDonald (4.5) and Gabriela Prieto (4.5).

After the weekend's tennis play was over, Team Southwest was introduced on court to the crowd after the Rafael Nadal-Andy Murray men's final at the BNP Paribas Open. 

For more information on USTA Tri-Level leagues, check the information below:
About USTA Tri-Level Leagues
· Teams consist of 3.5, 4.0 and 4.5 levels.  Easy to form teams – 3 doubles lines per team match – one line of each level playing same level opponents per team match.
· Must be 19 years or older & a USTA Member
· Must use 12/31/2008 NTRP Computer Rating –NO SELF RATING
· Roster limited to 12 Players (max 4 players at each level)

Want to form a league in your area? Contact your area's USTA Local League Coordinator to get more information.