25 Years at the Helm and Counting

September 19, 2014 05:41 PM

By Ron Cioffi/USTA Southern

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Jeanne Jones, right, chats with teammates, while Debi Booton middle,  and Cheryl Miller, bottom, compete.jones_25_booton_rc_091914_3jones_25_miller_rc_091914_3

During the captain’s meeting, Tournament Director Dene Owen began giving out prizes. “A backpack to the first captain to show me a printed library card,” she announced.

For the last prize, she asked all captains with five years of service to stand. Then, 10. Then, 15. When she got to 25 years, only four captains were standing.

Jeanne Moran-Jones was one of them. Here’s her story.

“I started in the early 1990s,” the Nashville, Tenn.-based Moran-Jones recalled. “I was a lawyer and the more business-like person in the group. … It’s a job no one really wants. Everybody just wants to play.”

Over those years she has lead teams at every division of USTA League except for the USTA Southern Tri-Level presented by BB&T. “I’ve done League at 18s, 40s, 55s and the older levels.” Now she heads the Tennessee (A) women's 4.0 players.

Her teams’ success can be shown with four visits to Nationals. The culmination was 2000, when they were the women’s 4.0 champions of the United States.

“It was a four-year journey. The first year we made it to States. Then, we went to Sectionals for two years. We went to San Diego and won the fourth year,” Jeanne remembered.

“When I retired about 1996, I focused on the team and improving. Each year we learned a little more. One year we showed up and the other girls on the other team brought umbrellas and cooling towels. So, the next year, we brought umbrellas and cooling towels.

Earlier in 2000 the Tennessee Titans came up a yard short of winning in the last play of Super Bowl. “We were inspired by the Tennessee Titans,” she said. “We had a saying that came out of that game that helped us keep going.”

The key she said was hiring a coach who helped diversify their technique and strategy during regular clinics. “He talught us how to play against the lob and serve and volley. ... We just put in more time and more work that year. It paid off,” she added. Her teammates say she gets into her “captain head” when she goes the extra mile to improve the team.

While Moran-Jones’ teams keep on having success, she puts the task of being a captain in perspective. “Some captains always play the best players. They also pick out the best player on the team and make her their partner so they always play.

“I don’t do that. I don’t play all the time. My goal is to get all my players in the lineup and to make a better team.”

It seems like that is working … for 25 years.

 

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