Amanda is back for our third and final episode on winning the 3.5 Women’s USTA National Championships for both her 18+ and 40+ teams. In this episode, Amanda tells us what it was like to play 6 matches at both the 18+ and 40+ National Championships, what her teammates would drink during the matches, and what she thought about the line calls!
Other episodes from this 3-part series that might interest you:
Below is the full transcript of our conversation:
Carolyn: Hi, this is Carolyn on here with Erin. And this is part three of our series with Amanda. Amanda is a former college soccer player from Florida who was the captain of the teams that won both the 18-plus and 40-plus national championship for 3.5.
In this episode, we’ll talk to Amanda about what it was like to play so many matches in a single weekend, what the members of her team would drink to stay hydrated, and how the line calls were at the National Championships.
How were you able to play so many matches in a single weekend?
Carolyn: Did you do anything like ice after the game because I’m even thinking about me playing three or four games within a three-day period, I’m in pain afterwards and all that sort of stuff. Do you have any recommendations because you played what, six matches one weekend, then waited a little bit and played a week and played six matches again? Is that correct?
Amanda: Yeah, yeah, yeah, we took… So, we took 12 players for the 18+ team and then a lot of those same players when for my 40+ team the following weekend. We were able to swap out a little bit but there were five of us that played every match between both weekends. The USTA National Championships has great trainers they let players use, and you could go and get ice, get massages, etc.
The weather was great both weekends, so we didn’t have any worry about anyone overheating like we do in Florida—we were quite happy with that. Arizona was a little dry and Oklahoma was really cold. So that was different for us, but fortunately we didn’t have to worry about the heat issues.
What Are Some of the Perks at the USTA Women’s National Championships?
Erin: I want a massage after every match! I’m not only impressed that you made it to the USTA Women’s National Championships, but you also got legit trophies, trainers, photo shoots, fun colors to wear and more! We always say that we have a hard time getting out of our own local playoffs, let alone out of our state playoffs, and then win our state tournament. Carolyn and I belong to a small club, and we’ve had a couple of teams that have gone to Sectionals but never to USTA Nationals. Even making it to Sectionals has been very few and far between. It’s hard to do for any club, but especially for an area that’s got tough competition like Florida.
Amanda: Yeah, Orange County is very strong. And so sometimes when we send two teams out of Orange County, we ended up playing our more county team day team in the final of sectionals, so both of Orange County teams made it to the Florida State sectional. So, we realized we’re in a very, very strong county, which is great tennis for us personally, because we just get better playing so many other good tennis teams.
What Did You Do to Research Teams?
Carolyn: I like the idea about researching other strong regions rather than focusing on researching certain players. You can get really hyper-focused and stressed about that stuff. What regions or sections of the country are normally strong? Did you see a pattern?
Amanda: California a normally up there. Florida and the Pacific Northwest are strong and so is Texas.
What Did Your Team Do to Celebrate?
Carolyn: Was there anything big that you guys did to celebrate?… Like, did you guys’ drink champagne afterwards?
Amanda: Well, the first one we won the USTA Women’s National Championships, we brought champagne on to the courts and had a champagne toast. But since we’re not really supposed to do that, we did most of our celebrating at a restaurant with both of our winning teams. The hard thing is some people of my players had to fly home right away so, as much as you want to celebrate, we did have to take it kind of easy. Both weekends, I stayed until Monday, so I got to just relax. In Arizona, we had a house that we all rented together. So, we basically just had a pj party and we all stayed in the house and were able to be lazy. I did the same thing in Oklahoma but in the lobby of the hotel. It was nice just to relax after two mentally and physically tough weekends.
What Did Your Tennis Teams Do Other Than Play Matches?
Erin: I’m impressed that you guys did things other than tennis. You went on a hike? When we go to the State Tournament in North Carolina, we seem to just go from the tennis courts to dinner and then to a house to relax, sleep, and get up and play again the next day. It sounds like you guys really took advantage of being in different cities and doing fun things to make memories… I think that’s great. I think we take it a little seriously, Carolyn!
Carolyn: I agree. We need to get to states again and do something fun other than just play tennis!
Amanda: Sometimes you don’t have time for anything else other than tennis matches but we were lucky. We had a late match on the second day — our first match was not until 1:30pm, so, although it wasn’t a brilliant idea, we decided to go to a local park and hike.
We Wanted to See Cactus!
None of us have been to Arizona before, and I had never seen a cactus before, so we went to a local park and walked around. We hiked a bit, and we took pictures. We had so much fun! It was just one of the things that worked out because we had such a late match.
The Logistical Nightmare That We Made Work
Carolyn: We don’t win that often, but when we do, it’s just a logistical nightmare to even try to get us to sectionals. Did your team at the beginning of the season decide that you were going to try and win it all and make it to Nationals? Did you guys talk about that at the beginning of the season?
Amanda: When we won in 2020 for the Florida, we would have gone to Nationals but that was the COVID year, so it didn’t happen. We sat together after that season and said, “We’re doing this again in 2021, and we’re going to Nationals.” So as soon as they post as a schedule, I told my team to block out October to go on to the USTA National Tournament. That was for my 18+ 3.5 team.
I happen to turn 40 that year so I also formed a 40+ 3.5 team. I had no idea both my teams would make Nationals! We decided that we would go with both teams (there was a lot of overlap in players). The team was 100% willing to fund raise and do whatever we could to make it happen. For one of the weekends, we all shared an Airbnb which helped with costs, and it was much cheaper than than a hotel. We did everything we could to make it affordable for everybody.
Erin: That’s smart planning. Sometimes you just can’t do it. This is adult rec tennis. Most of us are moms or working full-time or doing something— this is just our hobby but now we are talking about buying plane tickets to go compete against other tennis teams around the country, which is amazing. I think that’s fantastic that at our age, we have the opportunity to do that, but it does become a logistical problem sometimes when we have a lot of other commitments in our life.
Amanda: Yeah, it’s funny when you tell people you try to explain the situation to other people that don’t play tennis. You tell them” I’m going to fly to Oklahoma and Arizona for the USTA Women’s National Championships”. And they are like, “wait, what? You are 40 years old and going to fly somewhere to compete in tennis?”
What Kind of Trophy Did You Win?
Amanda: Yeah, but look at what I won! It’s a silver plate that looks like the trophy they give to players at the U.S. Open! If I could take it around everywhere with me, I would!
What’s In Your Tennis Bag?
Carolyn: Do you have anything special in your tennis bag that you bring with you since you’re playing so many matches?
Amanda: I always have an umbrella—but that’s more so because of the Florida sun. If you’re going to watch tennis matches, always have an umbrella! You also never know when it’s going to rain here. I also always carry a medical bag since I’m a captain. It includes band-aids, and other important things in case of injury. I gave all my players a clipboard and a score card pad because, when you’re playing for hours, you lose track of the score, so I make them write down everything.
Erin: When we go to our USTA State Tournament for our spring teams, it’s usually hot so I try to give my players some things that will help them with the heat. I’ve given them all fans (like the kind you buy at Disneyland) that shoots out water and keeps you cool. I’ve also given them all cold packs that they can put on their big muscles to keep their body temperatures down. I know it’s sill but it’s kind of smart too, don’t you think?
Carolyn: Yes, that’s very smart. Amanda, did you start cramping at all while you were playing all those USTA matches in Oklahoma or Arizona?
Amanda: I didn’t but there are a couple of players on my teams swear by pickle juice to help with cramping. They drink it! But they also found that stores now also sell pickle juice pops now! Have you ever seen them? They look like the frozen ice pops that you use to have when you’re a kid, but they’re pickle juice pops.
Erin: You know you can get them in a little cup now too. Like apple sauce cups but they are tiny pickles! I guess it’s easier to eat pickles than to squeeze out mustard out of packets, right?
What Do You Drink When You’re on the Tennis Court?
Carolyn: What do you normally drink out there on the court? Are you just drinking water, or you have anything special to stay hydrated?
Amanda: I have a mixture of both. I always have Gatorade Zero or PowerAde Zero with me, and I also drink water. I know a lot of the ladies like Liquid IV mixed into their water too.
Erin: Carolyn is asking all these questions for her own research.
Carolyn: Yes, these are the things we get obsessed about. I want to do whatever Amanda is doing and drink whatever her teams are drinking! Whatever she is doing is working, right?
Erin: Yes, that’s so true! What’s the secret? Yeah, we need your secret sauce, Amanda. I’m going to Google “pickle pops” as soon as we get done recording.
Carolyn: I can’t imagine taking mustard in the middle of a match!
Erin: I don’t mind using mustard, but then it makes me crave hot dogs
How Were the Line Calls at the USTA National Tournament?
Carolyn: So how were the line calls at Nationals?
Amanda: Actually, they weren’t bad at all. They were actually better than they are in Florida. We’ve never had any issues. The whole time we were at both National Tournaments, we met such nice women. I think everybody was just so happy to be there. Everyone was walking around with a smile on their face. They were just so happy to be there. Everybody was super sweet.
Even the Intermountain team that we faced twice and had to beat in a semifinal to make it to the final, we became such good friends with them. We are now Facebook friends with them too. It was such a great experience, and we really had no bad line calls at all.
Erin: Carolyn is thinking now about how we can make it to Nationals so we can experience having matches with good line calls.
Amanda: Oh, that’s funny.
Carolyn: We can’t take Amanda enough for speaking with us. And to give anyone listening a little bit of motivation—Amanda had both her knees replaced in 2020, so we will have her back on the podcast to discuss that. She proves that you can get injured and then the next year win the USTA Women’s National Championships!
Thanks so much for listening and we hope to see you on the courts soon.