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Another Shot at a State League Championship

Not many USTA teams have played in league state championships, yet Larry Guster’s three USTA teams have all qualified for state league championships this spring. Guster captains an 18 and Over, 40 and Over, and 55 and Over team, all at the 3.5 level.

This weekend, his 18 and Over team will be competing for a state league championship in Greenville, along with 71 other teams and about 850 tennis players. The USTA South Carolina State League Championships for competitive levels 2.5-3.5 runs Saturday through Monday.

Guster might not be captaining that team this weekend had he not picked up a tennis racquet 23 years ago. He had just moved to South Carolina and joined a racquet and swim club. Guster had played racquetball for years, and finally said, “Heck, I might as well pick up a tennis racquet.”

He hit around with some of the men that belonged to the club and enjoyed tennis.

Two years later, Guster decided to captain a team in a USTA league. Since captaining his first team almost 21 years ago, he and his team have won more than 600 matches.

Guster’s 40 and Over team was a finalist in the state league championships earlier this month in Aiken. During that team’s finals match against Greenville, Guster’s No. 1 singles player won his match in 45 minutes. But Guster’s team lost the other four matches in 10-point tiebreakers, which players play after splitting two sets with their opponents.

 “I thought for sure that we would win two more courts. Our team went undefeated in our league and lost our first match of the season with those tiebreakers,” Guster said.

Half the team playing in the 18 and Over 3.5 State League Championships in Greenville this weekend played in the finals of the 40 and Over State League Championships in Aiken. “They want to get another chance to win the state tournament this year because they were so, so close in Aiken,” Guster said.

He and his team are planning on playing very competitively, despite the fact that most of his team is 40 or older and will be playing against younger players in the 18 and Over championships.

“I like league play because there is the opportunity to win a league championship and compete. We enjoy the competition and winning but also like the lasting friendships that we establish through the USTA,Guster said. Every year, every guy on my team has the goal of winning the state championships but the friendships are just as valuable and important.