English Department Acting Chair Jennifer Avila Leads SoCal Team to USTA National Championship

The United State Tennis Association (USTA) is the national governing body for the sport of tennis and the recognized leader in promoting and developing the sport’s growth on every level in the United States. Originally founded in 1881 as the U.S. National Lawn Tennis Association (USNLTA), the association was formed by a small group of men to promote the standardization of the rules and regulations for lawn tennis. The U.S. Lawn Tennis Association dropped the “L” and officially became the USTA in 1975. In present day, the USTA is made up of 17 individual sections, each representing distinct geographical locations throughout the U.S. and all working to support players and promote the growth of the game across the country. Each of the 17 sections are comprised of individual districts, with Southern California spanning from the lower central valley to the Mexican border in the south.

In the beginning of March, the top eight teams in the Southern California division for three ability levels (3.5, 4.0, 4.5) competed in sectional qualifiers to make it to the national championships the following week. Those competing in USTA receive an ability rating, the higher the number the more experienced/skilled the player is; this is to ensure a better experience for the player, so that they are competing against similarly skilled players. UWest English Department Acting Chair Jennifer Avila was captain of the 4.5 doubles team comprised of three players (the other two were Kathryn Conley of Glendora and Mika Katsuhara of Arcadia) who competed to represent the best “4.5” rated team in the entire SoCal division. In the single elimination tournament, they won all of their matches to make it to nationals. The 4.0 team from San Fernando Valley and the 3.5 team from Orange County also won to form a three-tiered super-team representing all of SoCal at the national championships in Surprise, Arizona (just outside of Phoenix).
All of the best teams from across the U.S. competed in a single weekend, playing two matches each day for three days. To win a match, the three competing doubles teams (one 3.5, 4.0, 4.5) must win two out of the three matches. A match consists of best two out of three sets; the first to win 6 games wins the set. If teams split sets, a 10-point tiebreak is played to determine the winner of the match. The team as a whole only lost two lines the entire weekend – they did not lost a single match. The SoCal women beat the Intermountain, Southwest, New England, and Pacific Northwest to get to the semifinals. The SoCal women then defeated Midwest in the semifinals and beat Florida for the national championship.The 3 women smiling at the camera.

The banner now hangs at Whittier Narrows Tennis Center in South El Monte, just two freeway exits away from University of the West. In the future, Prof. Jennifer Avila hopes to bring more tennis to UWest through student life activities and other events. Having played tennis on a full athletic scholarship for Cal State Los Angeles from 2005-2008 (NCAA Division II), Prof. Avila hopes to share her love and passion for the sport with others, and plans to continue playing recreationally for exercise and wellness. For those interested in playing at any level, please contact jennifera@uwest.edu for resources and participation opportunities in the local area.


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