Tennis team from Pelham finishes second in national tournament
By DREW GRANTHUM/Sports Writer
A team made up of members from the Pelham Racquet Club participated in the USTA League Adult 18 and Over 2.5 National Championships in Indian Wells, Calif. Oct. 6, finishing second in the nation.
The feat is quite an accomplishment, but co-captain Mark Partain said the team didn’t even think about what the magnitude of the event.
“We just focused on the matches so much, we didn’t realize what we were doing,” he said. “We just came to play tennis. It’s just now sinking in.”
The squad, which is made up of Partain, co-captain (and PRC Pro) Omar Alcaino, Rohen Porbandella, Rafique Dhanani, Karim Jiwani, Jan Bartos and Sultan Maredia began play in April and participated in league matches out of Pelham. After winning the PRC league tournament, the team set its eyes on the state title, which it captured as well. From the state finals, the squad took on all comers at sectionals in Auburn, securing a spot in the national title tournament with a win.
From there, the team travelled to California for the national tourney, playing in round-robin competition on Oct. 5-6. The squad made it to the national semifinals, defeating a team from Oakland, Calif., to reach the finals.
“We got to the finals by beating a team we weren’t supposed to,” Partain said. “We played Puerto Rico (in the finals) and they are renowned for having a strong team, and we fell short.”
While coming short of the ultimate goal might seem like a let down, Partain said the magnitude of the match didn’t sink in right away.
“I’m not a very braggadocio person,” he said. “I get chills the more it dawns on (me). (The team) is an interesting combination; all are calm and believe in ourselves and just play one ball at a time.”
Partain was quick to compliment the Pelham Racquet Club for providing a sense of community.
“That’s the thing about Pelham; you just play together and support each other,” he said. “It’s a great place to play and you make a lot of friends.”