On February 25 to 28, the annual Jason Morton USTA Tennis Tournament at Oakwood Tennis Club in Sun Lakes, Ariz., drew the highest number of players ever. Competitors came from across the country and they competed in singles and/or doubles and/or by NRTP rating and/or age bracket. Congratulations to all the winners and participants.
For a full list of winners, visit playtennis.USTA.com.
Danielle personally got to witness the power of a stellar player, Hussein Elalami of Gilbert, Ariz., who won the Men’s Open Singles and Doubles, the most difficult divisions of all. He inspired her to play bolder and win her division on February 28.
Danielle Wagner, a southern California native and Professor at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., was visiting her mother, June Wagner, an Oakwood resident, when she learned on January 3 she had a positive diagnosis for COVID-19. She was isolated while ill in a room for three weeks, where she dreamed of recovering enough to feel better so that she could play tennis in the tournament starting on February 25. Since playing doubles tennis in her native California has been prohibited for over a year now due to the pandemic, she got to practice tennis singles only a handful of times in 2020, plus a few doubles while visiting Sun Lakes. Nevertheless, she decided to give the tournament a try and registered with the USTA. Her lack of practice and health challenges made it surprising that she won three singles matches over three days in the 45+ Singles (all NRTP levels) division of the USTA. Jason Morton tournament. It took a lot of perseverance, mental stamina, and toughness, with some singles matches lasting over two and a half hours in the 80 degree heat, sun, and wind, and the final on a chilly 44 degree day at 8:30 a.m.
On Danielle’s final match on February 28, the score was 6-6 in set one, so she played a seven-point-tie break. She lost the tiebreak 4-7 to her opponent, which gave her opponent a win for set one. In the second set, Danielle was at two games won and her opponent was at five games won with the deuce advantage. Her opponent was one point away from winning the title and prize. Danielle asked herself if she should just give up. She told herself no and made an epic comeback. Danielle went on to win five games in a row, beating her opponent 7-5 in set two. This meant the two players were tied in games. Thus, a set tiebreaker was needed. Danielle persevered and won the set tiebreaker 10-8. Danielle won the 45+ Singles all NRTP levels division of the Jason Morton Tennis Tournament. It just shows how, like in the movies, when all hope is lost, things can change dramatically with hope, belief in oneself, and positive thinking.
Congratulations Danielle, and all the winners, well done!