By Mike Kinney
The Richmond Tennis Association’s (RTA) top-rated Women’s (4.0) team is prepping for the 2022 USTA League National Championships after recently going undefeated at the USTA Norcal Sectionals event in Elk Grove.
On July 31, the team, led by Captain Jorge Salinas, Co-Captain Jon Sutinen and assisted by dynamo Flor Salinas and the never-say-die 4.0 Women players, won the East Bay Championship on July 31 in a playoff match against the team from The Claremont Resort and Spa.
In Sectionals play last weekend, the team prevailed in the Finals against a previously undefeated team from SF Bay Club to earn the Northern California Championship.
The RTA champs now move on to nationals, which will be held in Phoenix, Az., in October.
RTA President Garry Hurlbut, who co-founded the RTA along with his wife Maryn, said the association is proud to represent Richmond in the prestigious national tournament.
“My wife, Maryn, and I are thrilled to see the diverse composition of our team, that so represents the diversity we enjoy in Richmond, be so successful in such a short period of time while celebrating their skills, family atmosphere and great sportsmanship,” Hurlbut said.
The victory is another example of the growing love of tennis in the community, largely inspired by the Hurlbuts. After the Richmond Plunge reopened following seismic retrofitting in 2014, the Hurlbuts, who had just moved from Oakland to Point Richmond, attended the celebration. They noticed the dilapidated state of the tennis courts by the Plunge and wanted to do something about it.
The Hurlbuts were just entering retirement and wanted to give back to their communities, so they set out to fix up the courts near the Plunge, along with a little BBQ area nearby. They applied for and received a grant from the USTA to resurface the courts. Maryn started a free Tots program on the resurfaced courts. Meanwhile, Garry volunteered his time starting an Adult program in collaboration with the Richmond Recreation Department, as there was no adult program at the time.
“Very quickly, many folks joined up which included Jorge Salinas who is now the captain of the 4.0 Women’s team that is going to Nationals,” Garry said. “Maryn and I then formed the nonprofit RTA organization and recruited Jerry Anderson (now with RPAL), Tetteh Kisseh (Sports Supervisor at the Recreation Dept.), Cherryl Silva (USTA), Wendy Driver-Guinn (former tennis pro) and Jon Sutinen (neighbor and tennis enthusiast) to form the RTA Board Directors and off we went.”
Today, the RTA consists of over 120 registered adults and has assisted with programs for over 250 youth, “all enjoying our mission to actively endorse efforts to support active and healthy lifestyles for Richmond residents of all ages,” Garry said, adding, “Very rewarding!”