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USTA North Carolina holds inaugural Tri-Level State Championships

USTA North Carolina held its first ever Adult League Tri-Level State Championships from Sept. 19-21 in Hickory, N.C. Over 300 players across five different levels competed in the inaugural tournament for a league that continues to display impressive growth each year.

Tri-Level matches consist of three levels of players competing together on the same team. While the league is still new to some areas of the state, the concept is rapidly expanding as it gives USTA members the ability to play with a wide range of players.

This year USTA North Carolina had five divisions combined of men's and women's competing in Hickory. Champions now advance to the Southern Sectional Championships in October.

For more information on the Tri-Level State Championships, go to nclleaguetennis.com. To find the full standing from the tournament, click here


2014 state champions

Division Champion  
2.5/3.0/3.5 Women's 18 & Over Central Carolina
3.0/3.5/4.0 Women's 18 & Over Western NC
3.0/3.5/4.0 Men's 18 & Over Central Carolina
3.5/4.0/4.5 Women's 18 & Over  
3.5/4.0/4.5 Men's 18 & Over  Capital Area


Club's first league team makes state championship

Some clubs around North Carolina have no problem putting together league teams, drawing from a large group of players in their areas. Others don't quite have the same luxury.

Champions Hill Club in Hendersonville is home to some avid tennis fans, but up until 2014, the club was never able to build a team that could compete in league play. This year was different. Champion Hills saw its first league team participate in Tri-Level. The 18 & Over 2.5-3.5 women's team didn't just play, they earned a berth in USTA North Carolina's inaugural Tri-Level State Championships.

Lane Evans, Director of Tennis & Wellness at Champion Hills, was proud to help put together a team after seeing increased membership in recent years. Evans said his club had 15 players sign up for USTA memberships this year.

"This may not be a big day for the rest of the world of tennis, but it is a huge and historic day for us," Evans said when his club played its first league match. "Win or lose, we are in the game."

The members from Champion Hills enjoyed their time in Hickory for the Tri-Level State Championships, getting their first taste of a tournament of this magnitude.

Susan Cullie, one of the players on the Champion Hills team, said she loved Tri-Level and the entire experience at the state tournament.

"This was the first year we had it. We're loving it. We're a golfing community and we only have two tennis courts," Cullie said. "We have a mixed level of tennis players, so Tri-Level is great. You get to be with people of different skill sets. It's a lot of fun."

4.0 player takes the court days after knee procedure

If you went to the doctor to have your knee drained, do you think you'd be up for playing in a state league tournament two days later? One player at the Tri-Level State Championships decided he would give it a shot after such a procedure.

Mitch Furst, a 4.0 player from Cary, underwent a knee drain on Wednesday. He was on the court playing in Hickory Friday at 12:30 p.m.

"My knee felt a bit stiff, but my partner and I somehow pulled out our first match in a tiebreaker," Furst said. "I had an ACL surgery when I was 31, a meniscus surgery two years ago and now a knee drain just the other day."

Furst played tennis through college at Kent State University and Ohio University, but he took an extended hiatus from the sport after graduating. He hadn't played tennis in 20 years prior to picking up a racquet again just two years ago.

"Why did I stop playing? I kept losing. Guys I used to beat easily kept getting better," Furst said with a laugh. "I came back because some friends kept asking me to come play in a ladder at Cary Tennis Park. Everyone was so nice. So I just started playing."

After taking a break from tennis, Furst switched to basketball for a while. That sport wasn't as kind to him, though, as he suffered multiple injuries, including several knee issues, while playing.

Now as he's getting back into tennis, Furst has moved up two levels since entering as a 3.5. He said the Tri-Level format is the one he's most fond of out of all the leagues USTA North Carolina offers.

"Tri-Level is great because you get a lot of people who wouldn't normally play together. It's actually my favorite of all the leagues we have," Furst said. "We have a great group of guys who got the chance to play together here."

As Cary continues to grow, the Tri-Level leagues at Cary Tennis Park will surely do the same.