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International Friendly Competition Hoping to Make its Way to NorCal

The sixth Presidents’ Cup took place at the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club, November 9-11. Located 20 miles north of San Diego in a picture perfect setting, the club hosted a high level but friendly competition that featured the International Clubs of the United States and France. The event occurs every two years and reunites national and international players, ages 30 to 70 years-old.

Under a blazing sun and to the scent of the ocean, nine French players and 15 American players, including six from NorCal, took the courts over the two-day competition. The French team’s resiliency contributed to a close first day, but the US team led at the end by clinching all four super tie-breaks completed that day. After 28 singles, doubles and mixed doubles matches, the U.S. team retained the Presidents’ Cup trophy, and now leads 4-2 all-time in the competition.

However, results are not the main focus of the International Club (IC), which was created to “promote international friendship across the net.” It was evident as players chatted during the changeovers and exchanged gifts, that, catching up with old friends and making new ones was more important than scores (thank you Charlie Hoeveler for the very comfortable Nike long-sleeve).

Picture on the left: USIC team with the President’s Cup trophy. Picture on the right: USIC team and French IC team gather around the President’s Cup trophy.

The relaxed and friendly environment of these competitions is a great addition to the players’ season as some of the criteria to join are to be a member of a national team or to have won a national title. “For top senior players, they play in national or international competitions where it’s really competitive and rankings are at stake. Here, you have the same level but it’s a friendly and social environment,” said Judy Newman, US National player and Santa Cruz resident.

A USIC member since 2001, Carolyn Nichols, who is also a NorCal Hall of Famer and a USIC Board member, enjoys the international flair of the IC. “The IC events cover a lot of players and you get to meet people of all ages and from everywhere,” Nichols explains. “Tennis is our common language, so we instantly understand each other, no matter where we’re from.”

No other event like that has taken place in NorCal and Charlie Hoeveler, who has played 15 IC contests and was the USIC Captain, wants to change that by hosting an IC event within the next four years. “Most people who play IC matches have had a huge impact on the community,” Hoeveler states. “Members must have a passion for the game, play in tournaments and have a high character, so it seems natural to bring it to NorCal to expose our community to such a high level of tennis mixed with impactful people.”

Erika Smith, who plays at the Berkeley Tennis Club, was intrigued by the combination of tennis and traveling abroad. “The Presidents’ Cup reinforced that even though tennis is an international sport and the tennis community is widely spread, it is also really tight and friendly,” Smith noted.

Picture on the left – French IC team: Marc Mischkind, Thierry Pham, Francoise Achard, Betty Michel, Daniel Alexandre, Mylene Mukhar (front), Martine Monlibert, Emmanuelle Ducrot, Olivier Cayla, Benedicte Le Grand, Patrice Beust. Not pictured: Isabelle Cruedo and Rosie Darmon. Picture on the right – USIC team: Back: Bill Kellog, Erika Smith, Bruce Likpa, Dan Goldie, Paul Wulf, Bob Litwin, Peter Smith, Les Buck and Geoff Cykman; Front: Ros Nideffer, Leslie Wargo, Charlie Hoeveler, Lucia Romanov, Judy Newman, Alisa Yee. Not pictured: Carolyn Nichols.

For all the reasons mentioned above, USTA NorCal Executive Director Steve Leube agreed that bringing an IC event to NorCal would benefit the section. “The passion that the USIC members have shown in developing and growing the game of tennis has been fantastic,” Leube said. “USTA NorCal would be thrilled to help bring an event to NorCal to further pursue that mission.”

Nevertheless, hosting an IC event requires a lot of planning and enough courts. “It would have to be between April and October and in a place big enough to have 6 courts and lodging to accommodate the players,” Hoeveler said. “The proximity between the courts and the hotel is important because it creates a much more enjoyable experience for the players.”

The tennis community is international and widely spread but it speaks one common language: tennis. Through international travel and character, the IC reunites people from around the world, and promotes tennis in a unique way. USTA NorCal looks forward to sharing this experience with the NorCal community.

For the history of the Presidents’ Cup, click here.

For more photos, click here.

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