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CAZ 4.5 Men Claim National Championships

 By Melissa Krueger, Special to USTA.com
TUCSON, Ariz. — An intense weekend of tennis concluded today at the 2012 USTA League 4.5 Adult National Championships with the women of the New England section and the Southwest men taking home their respective National titles.

The women of the New England section claimed their crown with a 4-1 victory over the Eastern women from New York City. The women from Natick, Mass., were successful on the final day of competition with superb singles play from Katie Pasciucco and Davida Dinerman.

Dinerman endured a nearly two-and-a-half hour No. 2 singles match against Southern California's Heidi Ohanesian, winning 6-1, 6-4. The match ended up being the decisive win to take Dinerman's team to the championship round.

At first, Dinerman didn't know her match was the deciding match — that is, until everyone crowded around her court.

"I was winning, but she was tough," she said of her match with Ohanesian. "We have a saying: Play like you know you can play, and I just had to be patient and grind it out. I love this team so much; I wanted to do it for them."

Dinerman has been playing in the USTA leagues since 1996 and has been to Nationals once before. She said none could compare to this team, though.

"This is the most incredible team for many reasons," she said. "The playing ability and the camaraderie is unequaled."

Dinerman also won her finals singles match against Eastern's Laura Faulkner in straight sets, 6-2, 6-3. In No. 1 singles, New England's Pasciucco won both of her matches in the semifinals and finals.

With only eight players traveling to Tucson, each player had to play every match. Captain Erin Reeves called the win surreal, saying that the team never stopped believing they could make it to this point.

"We did it different ways each team win, but we got it done," Reeves said. "It doesn't feel real at this point."

In the men's championship, the Southwest men from Phoenix defeated the Mid-Atlantic section, 4-1. Three of their five matches ended in three-set tiebreakers, a common theme for this team.

Captain Michael Flinn said practicing tiebreakers is important for the team, especially when there is parity in the competition.

"You always have to be thinking ahead to the tiebreakers," he said. "Our strategy in the tiebreaker is to just to be the aggressive team. Be aggressive at the net. Be aggressive with your serves."

Standouts in Flinn's mind included singles player Jacob Spizman and singles duo Michael Flynn and Shi Jin, who battled for three-set wins in the finals matches. Flynn and Jin scraped away with a win against Jim Schaefer and Eddel Veloso, 6-7, 6-4, 1-0. Spizman beat Mid-Atlantic's Nick Barber — who was undefeated before this match — 6-3, 4-6, 1-0.

Flinn was impressed with Spizman's play all weekend.

"He was a horse in singles for us," Flinn said of Spizman.

Adult 4.5 Final Results
Men’s Championship: Southwest (Phoenix) def. Mid-Atlantic (Roanoke, Va.), 4-1
Men’s Third Place: Southern California (Los Angeles) def. Texas (Houston, Texas), 5-0

Women’s Championship: New England (Natick, Mass.) def. Eastern (New York City), 4-1
Women’s Third Place: Southern California (Laguna Hills, Calif.) def. Middle States (Doylestown, Pa.), 3-2