The look of pride was hard to miss on the face of Dominique Emerson as she stood outside Langley City Hall on Thursday afternoon. She has reason to be happy.
Emerson, a 66-year-old Langley city councilwoman, was part of the Shoreline-based Harbor Square tennis team that won a USTA national championship in the 65 and over division on May 7 in Surprise, Ariz. Harbor Square was broken up into four doubles teams; Emerson and her seven teammates went undefeated in round robin and bracket play to win the title.
They played through temperatures up to 115 degrees, 40-mph winds and start times of 6:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. due to the sweltering heat. Emerson was ecstatic about the national title.
“It’s just such a feeling of accomplishment to know you’ve worked hard for something and worked with a team,” Emerson said.
Emerson was paired with Mary Fox of Shoreline. They battled through point after point in the semifinals against a team from the Midwest while compensating for the wind that often manipulated the ball’s flight midair.
They eventually won 6-1, 6-4. Emerson, however, was forced to withdraw before the finals match due to migraines. She was replaced by another teammate who won the finals match with Fox.
“I just felt like I couldn’t risk it getting any worse while I was playing,” Emerson said.
Harbor Square was one of hundreds that competed in section tournaments across the country. Harbor Square beat out teams from the Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Wyoming to qualify for nationals. At the national championships, Harbor Square faced teams from all over the nation, including Florida, Texas, California, Ohio, New York and Massachusetts.
“There was tough competition,” Emerson said. “It was an incredibly grueling environment. We started at 6:30 (in the morning) and sometimes finished up at 11 at night.”
Emerson started playing tennis with her mother when she was 6. She played in high school, but then took a 20-year hiatus while earning her degrees and working. She played for a bit when she was 40 and went to nationals with another team, but came in fourth place. She then stopped playing again and thought her tennis days were over when she moved to Whidbey Island. But, she was with some friends on the island who were traveling to Edmonds to play tennis and eventually connected with the Harbor Square team.
Emerson considers herself to be a finesse player who can exploit vulnerable areas of the court to score points. She is not overly aggressive either.
“There are some people who are the closers and have no fear of taking the risk to hit strongly,” Emerson said. “I’m not that person.”
Emerson recommended the sport to people of all ages.
“Tennis is a great sport,” Emerson said. “It’s brought me a lifetime of pleasure and opportunities to meet people and be active.”