Big celebrations are underway at a small tennis club on the 400 block of East Locust Avenue in Germantown. The Philadelphia Tennis Club is celebrating the recent win by its 4.0 women’s tennis team at the United States Tennis Association’s (USTA) Middle States Sectionals tournament.
Mildred Azizi, who established the team in 1991 at the club, attributed the win to her team’s ability to work together and stay in the moment.
“We beat everybody. It was so amazing and we were so happy,” said Azizi, the team captain. “But we weren’t thinking about winning, you know. We just went as a tennis family, we had fun, we laughed, we talked and we just stayed within the moment, and didn’t get ahead of ourselves. That’s probably why we did as well as we did.”
The team, a diverse group of women representing at least five nationalities and ages ranging from 29 to over 65, defeated teams from New Jersey, Delaware, and central and northern Pennsylvania to earn their title as champions. The team has advanced to the sectionals-tournament round before, but this was their first sectionals win.
For more than 20 years, Azizi and several other original members have remained actively involved with the team and the club, whose members cite it as the oldest black-owned tennis club in America.
Jill Jacobs, who has been a team member for two years, praised Azizi for making several last-minute roster changes that made a big difference in the team’s wins during crucial matches.
“I think Z, as a captain, she paired you with different players all of the time, and I think that helped us out a lot,” Jacobs said.
Azizi’s decision to switch doubles player Mina Kuriashkin to a singles match proved to be the right choice, as Kuriashkin’s victory was one of two match wins that helped bring the team to its 5-0 victory.
“I usually play the doubles, but the morning of the match, Z was saying she needed a singles player. So, at the last minute she changed the lineup and put me on singles,” Kuriashkin said. “I was losing in the first set, 2-5, and then somehow I came back from that to win. It felt amazing.”
The team is now preparing to travel to Palm Springs, CA, in October for the USTA 4.0 National Championships.
George Guy, president of the tennis club, said he is confident that the team will do well in the championship rounds.
“We’re ecstatic and we’re certainly proud of them,” Guy said. “They’re a diverse group, a great bunch of nice, classy women, and I know they will represent us well.”