by Luana Paahana
Where family and friends come to play is not just our motto, it is the lifestyle at Maui Country Club. The Club ‘s 3.0 40+ Women’s Tennis Team began as many other success stories here, as one friend inviting another to play. For Rachael Barnard, team captain of the Slice Girls, it began with Kimi Ouchi – one of the Club’s top tennis players encouraging her to take up the game.
Rachael attended her first beginner clinic in 2013 and on meeting the others taking lessons became a regular on the courts for practice with her new tennis friends. It wasn’t long before a suggestion that they form a 3.0 team took hold and with former member, Yulie Law, they registered a fall league team and began recruiting more friends to join them.
They began with the mothers of their children’s classmates. One in particular, Susan Bailey, became the team’s co-captain. Rachael describes Susan as “The team strategist. She has a keen ability to assess players’ strengths which is critical for producing winning line-ups.”
Leaving the sideline, they began playing together and discovered a love for the game and a fun workout! The growing ladies group began taking private team lessons with Diane Miller, who coached them in preparation for their first competitions. “We were terrible,” groaned Rachael, “but we had so much fun meeting the other Maui teams who became our new friends!” Although they lost many matches that first year, the team kept learning and steadily making progress.
The addition of Maui Country Club’s Tennis Director, Cason Mays brought about a new level of excitement for the game. “Cason’s ability to see what each individual needs to do to improve her game coupled with his consistency and unrelenting patience has had a huge impact on our success,” commented Barnard. “For two years Cason has told me to bend my knees; and when I do, my strokes are awesome! I think coaching our team is a challenge because none of us played until three years ago, in our forties. We make it fun though because we can laugh at ourselves.”
In 2015, while Rachael was recovering from a hamstring injury, Susan Bailey led the Slice Girls at their first run for the State Championship, held in Kapalua. After coming in second, the Slice Girls became more determined than ever to improve. The team began taking private team lessons with Cason twice a week. “He has completely transformed my game,” says Rachael “and the better we get the more we want to play! Most of the ladies are Moms juggling work and family; so we take advantage of every opportunity for court time including when the kids are having their tennis lessons with Coach Cason.”
The 2016 season began with the 40+ league in January and in March they captured the Maui title. At the State Championships in May, they successfully defended against West Hawaii, East Hawaii and two Oahu teams at the Kapalua Tennis Garden courts. Undefeated, they took top honors in their division. As State Champions, they will represent Hawaii at the US Nationals next month at the Hilton el Conquistador in Tucson, Arizona.
Along with co-captains Rachael and Susan, the club members who earned their way to the national competition are: Mickey Haller, Jody Reale, Tesha Newman, Dorien Romanchak, Leslie Millen, Lisa Paulson, & Roberta Yu. Also part of the team going to Nationals are Stacey Behrendt, Tina Archer and Virginia Suddath. They leave October 11 to acclimate and will stay together in a private residence; planning for a fun, once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Other club members who play in various leagues on the Slice Girls team are: Tiffini Connelly, Kandy Grantz, Beth McGregor, Jodel Edwards, Angie Peters, Lindy Shapiro, Valerie Petredis, Kimmie Seguin, and Daisy Finch. The team motto is, “It’s not about winning, it’s about having fun!” and cheers to you Slice Girls, you have both!
While making arrangements for the team’s travel to Tucson, Rachael was inspired to start a fundraiser at Maui Country Club. The inaugural event is a named after former Club member Charlie DuBois – the “Ticket to Fly” Tennis Party featuring tennis competition, live music, dinner, drinks and prizes is Saturday, October 1. This year proceeds will benefit MCC league tennis to help defray off-island travel expenses. All members are invited to join the fun – whether you play tennis or not – the first 40 players will complete the tournament and hit the courts at 3:00 p.m. A Fajita-inspired dinner, live music and partying from 6:00 p.m. Players and non-players just are just $50 for a good cause. Plan to join the celebration and help send the Slice Girls on their next adventure! Call the Club at (808) 877-7893 to RSVP.