Southern Teams Battle in Nationals in Las Vegas

October 6, 2008 05:24 PM

Star Connection Could Help Southern Men on National Stage

Being on the big stage of the USTA League Presented by Chrysler 2.5 Adult Men’s National Championships may just be a prelude for a Southern tennis player whose house is going to be a set for a major motion picture.

Jeff Johnson will be vacating his house in Milton, Ga. for a week this month while Demi Moore, David Duchovny and other stars begin filming “The Joneses” in his home. Also, the house next door to Johnson’s in The Manor Golf and Country Club will also be a movie set for two weeks.

The Johnson family will live in an area hotel for the week. “They [the production company] said I can keep everything in the house the same but take down the family photos,” Johnson said.

According to the Hollywood Reporter web site, the movie focuses on a picture-perfect family that moves into a suburban neighborhood. But the reality is they are a commissioned fake family put together by a marketing company with the goals of introducing new luxury items to upscale neighborhoods. Duchovny plays the fake father, dealing with his choice of living a life that is a lie. Moore is the mother, a career-driven woman who has unexpected feelings for her fake husband. Other stars include Amber Heard and Gary Cole.

Although Johnson knows he needs to remove the family photos from the walls, if his team is successful this weekend in Las Vegas, he’s not so sure he will agree to remove the championship banners from his team’s hard work.

Lowly Start Doesn’t Slow Southern Team in Championship Drive

Only 10 days before Sectionals, the women of USTA Southern’s team found out their dreams of national glory were not dashed. Here, amid the palm trees of Las Vegas, the team is competing with the best at the 2.5 USTA League Presented by Chrysler 2.5 Adult Women’s National Championships.

The team from Chenal Country Club in Little Rock, Ark. never figured they would get to Nationals after they were defeated by what turned out to be the Arkansas champion team in States. But, another team from USTA Southern who qualified for Sections dropped out. That phone call they received told them they would advance to Sectionals and that their mission to get to Nationals was still alive.

After battling through round-robin play at Sectionals, they faced the other Arkansas team – the one that had beaten them 2-1 in States – in the Sectional championship round. The final score was the same, 2-1, but now the Arkansas “B” team, captained by Beckie Kennedy, had prevailed.

An injury to one of the team’s players only a few weeks ago meant the Little Rock squad is playing Nationals with the minimum five players.

Coach Travis Johnson put together the team, based he said on finding players who could gel as a team.

Beth Wilborne talked about their camaraderie, saying, “When we had our first lunch, it was the first time we met each other. Now, it’s like, ‘I love you, man.’”

That’s the kind of spirit that has brought together this squad to soar even when it looked like they were down and out.