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Lake Wildwood women’s tennis team heads to USTA National Championships

Members of the Lake Wildwood women's tennis team practice at the Lake Wildwood courts. The team will compete in the USTA 65-and-over National Championships in Surprise, Arizona Friday.
Walter Ford/wford@theunion.com |

There is some top-tier tennis being played in Lake Wildwood, and this weekend other top teams in the nation will get a taste of what has been brewing on the gated community’s courts.

After claiming the Sacramento-area league title and battling through the NorCal Sectionals, the Lake Wildwood women’s 65-and-over tennis team is off to Surprise, Arizona to face off with the best the nation has to offer at the United States Tennis Association 65-and-older National Championships (3.5 Level).

The ladies from Lake Wildwood are a competitive group, and have one goal in mind.



“We are going there to win,” said team captain Mary McLean. “We are all very competitive.”

This is the Lake Wildwood team’s first foray onto the national stage and an opportunity that didn’t come easy. They beat teams from much larger areas, including Walnut Creek, Millbrae, Saratoga and Marin County to win the NorCal Sectional Tournament.




“We won the sectional tournament by being competitive,” McLean said.” It was very, very close.”

The Lake Wildwood team is comprised of five Lake Wildwood residents, one player from Browns Valley and three from Grass Valley.

The team includes, McLean, Linda Bailey, Susan Browning, Nancy Eubanks, Helen Hansen, Sandy Martin, Marlene Soldani, Jewell Willis and Carol Wilson. They are coached by Dave Graham.

“It’s a tremendous accomplishment what they have done. Just making it to nationals. Sometimes it slips through cracks actually what a big deal it is, but these ladies have accomplished something pretty special,” Graham said.

The long time Northern California coach said the Lake Wildwood team has a good chance at bringing home the national title.

“They are as good as any team in the country,” said Graham. “They have as good a chance as anybody to go down there and win nationals.”

McLean said the Lake Wildwood team is a bit older than most with much of the team in their 70s and one player in her 80s, but what they lack in athletic ability, they make up in “guile.”

“It’s all angles and keeping it away from the other team when you’re older,” said McLean. “Rather than hitting the you know what out of it.”

Teammate Linda Bailey said that the older members of the team have a deeper knowledge of the game which gives the team an added element.

“Our 77 and up players are so experienced they make up for it with knowledge of the game,” Bailey said. “Sometimes you don’t need to run around, just know what you are doing.”

Bailey is also a member of the Ladies of the Lake, which is another team based out of Lake Wildwood, who will be competing at the Senior Cup in Indian Wells after the USTA Nationals. The Ladies of the Lake are completely made up of Lake Wildwood residents. The team is comprised of Bailey, Willis, Eubanks and Browning, who are all on the team heading to Nationals, as well as Carol Dunbar, Chris Goodwin, Sheila Miller and coach Sue Smallman.

The Ladies of the Lake have competed in the Senior Cup in the past, reaching the finals a few years ago, but have fallen short of the title round in the past couple outings. But, Bailey said she thinks they have what it takes to get back to the championship round this year.

The USTA National Championships, which features 16 of the best teams from around the nation, gets started Friday. The Senior Cup, which features teams from all over the world, gets started March 23.

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email wford@theunion.com.


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