■ BY SUSAN ERWIN
Jen Fiers, Director of Tennis at the Boca Grande Club, and her partner, Rene Muzquiz, rocked an amazing comeback to win a match that clinched the state/sectional title in Daytona Beach in early October.
In the third and final match on the last day of USTA league state tournament, Fiers and Muzquiz found themselves in what seemed like impossible territory.
Down match point at 4-6, 1-5 and 0-40, Fiers was preparing for her second serve. That’s when team members started praying. Muzquiz and Fiers won that second-serve point. Then another. And then another.
Point by point, game by game, they climbed back into the match. “Coming back from six match points to win the last match in our state finals was one of the all-time greatest moments of my tennis playing career,” Fiers said. “I felt the same exhilaration that I did when winning a tournament with my dad after his stroke, winning nationals in juniors, and clinching several major matches for my teams at University of Florida and University of Virginia. There is nothing like the feeling of making what seems impossible possible. Especially when you bring your team back from the edge of defeat. It is so much more fun to share winning and losing with a team than it is to bear the burden of loss or stand on top of the world alone. That’s why I love doubles and I love league tennis.”
The win will send the duo to the national competition that will take place Nov. 12 through Nov. 15 in Tucson, Arizona at the El Conquistador Resort. The two are part of the Sarasota 18-and-over 9.0 Mixed Doubles team. They call their squad “Team Joey.”
“The name is in honor of one of our late teammates who was killed in a boating accident four years ago,” Fiers said. “His name was Joey Gratton, a man in his 50s who competed like a 20-something. He was full of heart and spirit on the court, and just a great guy all around. He was a great competitor and sportsman.”
Fiers said she felt the presence of Gratton on the court during that final match. “Joey was there on the court that day, pulling some strings for us,” she said. “For me, I felt this intense focus and confidence that we were going to win the match.”
The team is hosting a clinic and exhibition from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Nov. 7. The event is open to Boca Grande Club members.