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Tri-Level Winners See Stars, Treated Like Stars

April 15, 2010 11:11 PM

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – Expectations carry with them the inherent danger that they will not be met.

When Dawn Dugan and her teammates from Vermont headed to the Indian Wells Tennis Garden March 18-21 to represent New England at the 2010 BNP Paribas Open Tri-Level Championships, she had heard nothing but great things.

"Heather (Anastos, USTA New England’s Director of Competitive Tennis) described the tournament and the events in glowing terms to me before we left," Dugan said. "It ended up being even better than she described."

Dugan and the rest of the Tri-Level competitors from across the nation enjoyed five days of competitive tennis at one of the country’s most attractive venues beneath the backdrop of the BNP Paribas Open, which was being contested concurrently.

New England's Tri-Level winners bumped into Nadal at Indian Wells

"We got to the facility at 8 a.m. and stayed well into the night," said Dugan, who played in the 4.0 division with teammate Laury Shea, and traveled with fellow Vermont competitors Jeanne Hulsen and Kristin Hartley (4.5s). "We got tickets to five of the pro sessions, so we saw a lot of great tennis. Plus, the pros are practicing around you, so we had the opportunity to see players like Nadal up-close."

Dugan is both a proponent and organizer of Tri-Level play and was encouraged by its potential while in California.

"There seems to be a lot of interest, based on our experience," she said. "I think it’s a nice way for people from different levels to get to know each other and any time you can expand formats and give players more opportunities to compete, it’s a great thing."

The New England contingent also included Western Mass. 3.5 winners Jay Hamilton and Graham Littlehales.

"The entire experience was fantastic, they treated us like kings," Hamilton said. "The facility is top-notch, and the tri-level concept is neat."

Hamilton also had a brush with greatness during his time at Indian Wells.

"One of the best parts of the experience is just wandering around the facility and checking things out. One afternoon, we stumbled across Nadal practicing. To see that up-close is just amazing, and it makes you realize you’ll never get there," Hamilton said with a laugh.

Tri-Level is one of many USTA New England’s Expanded Play Opportunities. USTA League in celebrating 30 years in 2010 and continues to provide more than 14,000 USTA members a social, fun and competitive environment for tennis. USTA League in New England offer a variety of choices to suit the preferences of every player. For more information about USTA League Expanded Play Opportunities and how you can join a league today, click here.