Prairieville resident helps lead Baton Rouge tennis team to title run

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen
Left to right: Rita Little, Lora Mcnutt, Jessica Nicole Dinh, Ellen Martinez, Melissa Johnson, Prairieville resident Lisa Marie Raiford, Melissa Coles Thompson, Cindy Kelley and Laura Wilson. Photo by Juan Ocampo

The women’s tennis team from Baton Rouge, representing the USTA Southern Section, captured the national title at the USTA League Adult 18 & Over 2.5 National Championships held at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, Calif.

The Baton Rouge team defeated a team from Tualatin, Ore., 2-1, in the championship match. Earlier in the day, the they defeated a team from Columbia, Md., 2-1, in the semifinals.

They advanced this far by winning their round-robin flight contested Oct. 16-17.

The team is captained by Melissa Johnson (Baton Rouge) and features Rita Little

(Baton Rouge), Lora McNutt (Brusly), Jessica Nicole Dinh (Baton Rouge), Ellen

Martinez (Co-Captain) (Baton Rouge), Lisa Marie Raiford (Prairieville), Melissa Coles Thompson (French Settlement), Cindy Kelley (Maurepas) and Laura Wilson (Baton Rouge) and plays at the Brec Highland Road Park Tennis Center.

Established in 1980, USTA League has grown from 13,000 participants in a few parts of the country in its first year to more than 865,000 players across the nation today, making it the world’s largest recreational tennis league.

USTA League was established to provide adult recreational tennis players throughout the country with the opportunity to compete against players of similar ability levels.

Players participate on teams in a league format, which is administered by the USTA

through its 17 sections.

The league groups players by using six National Tennis Rating Program (NTRP) levels, ranging from 2.5 (entry) to 5.0 (advanced). USTA League is open to any USTA member 18 years of age or older.

The 2015 USTA League season will be the third season with the updated structure

and format, which offers four age-categories (Adult 18 & Over, Adult 40 & Over and

Adult 55 & Over and Mixed 18 & Over) to better align participants with players their

own age. A fifth age division, the Mixed 40 & Over division, was added last year. The restructuring guarantees more frequency of play opportunities at more appropriate age.