FORT WAYNE – Their official name is Team Hewes, but the namesake and her teammates sold the naming rights long ago. And they’re not ashamed to say that the whole thing went right to the dogs when they did.
Yeah, we affectionately call ourselves The Mutts,’ Deb Hewes says.
Because we basically were all strays looking for a team, she explains.
If so, they’re beating the dog out of everyone now. The United States Tennis Association 6.0 Mixed Doubles 18 & Over team Hewes lashed together not only played in the USTA Midwest Championships at Wildwood Racquet Club this weekend, it did so as a state champion. The Mutts did that at West Side Tennis Club in Indianapolis this month.
It’s the culmination of what has been a tough season in the USTA local league for a team composed of some of Hewes’ friends from her cardio class, and a few names provided by the local league. And they’re all distinctly 18 and over; the age range is mid-20s through 60 or so, and Hewes herself is 51.
We have the whole range – fresh as a daisy to old as dirt, Hewes says with a laugh. This is my fourth year (playing). I played back when I was 13, 14, 15, and then I took some time off – 30 years off, for family and stuff.
She picked up the game again as a way of meeting people, starting out in the park leagues. Eventually she started meeting people who were playing USTA tennis, and that’s how she got involved on that side.
This is her first experience both as a team captain and playing in the Midwest championships, which draw teams from Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois. Three local teams are competing this weekend and next, including another state champion (9.0 18 & Over Mixed Doubles, captained by Sarah Rahrig) and the 7.0 55 & Over Men’s team captained by Bill Graham.
It’s been a great experience, Hewes says. My team from last year, the team captain decided not to be the captain and moved to another team. So we were all looking for a team. We put our names in at the desk, and they put a team together for us.
That’s kind of how it went for Graham, whose team will be playing in the Midwest event at Wildwood Sept. 28-29. Though the team is largely composed of veterans – most of the 10 team members, Graham says, have been playing if not a lifetime, 20, 25 years – it’s the first time they’ve played together as a team.
It’s just guys, some of whom I played with on a yearly basis, and about half just people I know from the club that I’ve played against over the years in leagues or just for fun, but have never been on my team, Graham says. About half my team has been to the Midwest championships before.
Hewes, on the other hand, never has been. And didn’t really expect to be playing in them this year.
Oh, no, she says, when asked if the Mutts expected to win state. It was amazing all the whole way through. We kind of struggled to get through the league. We kind of mixed up the lineup throughout the season, but we’re pretty solid now.