By Matt Birch
Tucson, Ariz. - Many of the athletes competing this weekend at the 2010 USTA League 3.5 Adult National Championships have brought friends and family members to Tucson to cheer them on. This is slightly different for the men’s and women’s teams representing the Pacific Northwest, as they have four pairs of family members who are all competing in this weekend’s competition at the Jim Reffkin Tennis Center.
The most unique family pair involves Gina Sjolander, who is competing for the Robinswood women’s team from Belleview, Washington. She is joined by her 20 year old son Parker, who is competing for the Mill Creek, Washington men’s team, and is currently a junior at the University of Washington.
"It is nice to have a family member there going through the same things," Gina explained. "Parker and I competed at sectionals together too, and it is great to have each other, and be able to cheer each other on."
Jason Chapman is the Robinswood coach, where he works with Gina, but he also coached Parker as he was growing up. Chapman explained that it is "great being able to see both Gina and Parker playing at this level."
Parker explained that it was his grandfather who got him and Gina into tennis. He is also very appreciative of this unique tennis experience.
"It is pretty crazy that both teams from Washington have made it to the National Championships," he said. "My mom and I grew up playing tennis together, and it is very special for both of us to be playing here."
In addition to competing on the tennis court this weekend, Gina and Parker also are having a friendly competition for bragging rights with each other, to see who can win the most games over the weekend. This competition is not just limited to tennis, as the two also had a dance competition in front of all of their teammates, which Parker admits he lost.
There is one more couple that features players on both the men’s and women’s teams from Washington. Roger and Becky Chin are married and both work in the dental profession. This weekend they both are competing for their respective teams, and are also cheering each other on from the sidelines.
"This is a neat experience," Becky said. "We don’t have to explain it to each other. We both know what each other are going through. Our coaches are very similar in strategy and whatever my coaches say, his coaches are saying too."
Roger also appreciates how unique it is to have a husband and wife pair to not only work in similar professions but to also both be competing at the National Championships.
"This is a very exciting and a great experience," Roger said. "We can enjoy each other, and it is very special being able to share it with her."
The men’s team form Mill Creek features two separate pairs of brothers on the team. The team is coached by Roger Mark and is captained by his younger brother Byron. Roger is the owner of the Mill Creek tennis club and has been coaching tennis for over 30 years. In his time as a coach he has taken many players and teams to National Championships.
Roger has a very strong passion for the game of tennis, loves teaching and promoting United States tennis.
"I’m living the dream," he said." "We are a tennis family. I believe in the American way, working hard and we push the U.S. tennis way."
The final family pair from the men’s team are brothers Aldon and Glenn Chinn. The Chinn brothers have been practicing together for years, and are competing this weekend as a doubles pair.
"It is cool to be a part of the National Championships with my brother," Glenn said. "We know how each other play, and it is easy for us to gel together."
Aldon added that this experience has "been a lot of fun, and it took a lot of hard work to get to this level."
Glenn summarized the uniqueness of the Pacific Northwest teams well, when he said, "It is amazing to see everyone from the Seattle area all win their sectionals, and have the opportunity to compete together here."