The name of the team is Net Assets. And, no, we’re not talking about a group of financial advisers.

Ten Maine men will travel to Tucson, Ariz., this week to play for a national tennis championship. They are part of the 17-member Net Assets 4.0 team, ages ranging from 18 to 51, that competes in USTA New England tournaments. They won the New England sectionals in August and now hope to bring home Maine’s first 4.0 national championship.

“It’s pretty unbelievable to think that we’re going to the national championships,” said Gorham’s Charlie Cianciolo. “After all the time we’ve all put into this over the years I’ve been at it for 10 to have whatever happened this year, for us to do what we did at the sectionals, it’s just a testament to a great group of guys.

“I think we all want to go out there and we want to win. But we’re not putting so much pressure on ourselves that we’re not going to be able to perform.”

The USTA 4.0 national championships will be held starting Friday at the Reffkin Tennis Center in Tucson.

Jon Parry, the team captain for the last nine years, said this year’s group came together unlike any other in his previous 10 years. After a slow start — “We were winning, but we didn’t feel like a team at that point,” he said. — the players pulled together and began playing together.

“The one thing that I like about this team is that we’re all there for each other,” said Cumberland’s Parker Swenson, a 22-year-old recent graduate of Washington & Lee University. “We cheer on each other. When we’re not playing, we’re on the sideline watching and cheering and shouting. We hang out together. We go to dinner, then to practice.”

And they’re playing for something more than just themselves.

One of the members, Kennebunkport’s Norman Archer, was diagnosed with testicular cancer in April.

He underwent emergency surgery, endured chemotherapy, missed 12 weeks of playing, but returned to become an integral doubles player, teaming with Parry.

“To have him back on the tennis court provided us with a lot of inspiration,” said Parry.

Net Assets has since partnered with the Cancer Community Center in South Portland to raise cancer awareness, donating half of the funds they raise to the center. At the New England sectionals, Parry ran into Didi Weinreb, a tennis pro teacher and breast cancer survivor.

She had designed pink T-shirts, with tennis balls on the front breasts and the words “Save the Girls” on the back. Net Assets wore those shirts in their sectional victory and plan on bringing them to Arizona.

Ben Robinson, an 18-year-old from Yarmouth who is a freshman at Hobart College, said the team is playing for much more than a national championship.

“I know this is a huge thing,” said Robinson, who will miss two days of classes — with the approval of his parents and professors — to play in the national tournament. “Maine is not known for tennis, per se, and to be going to Arizona, to possibly bring home a national championship, that seems pretty special to me.

“But we’re not just playing for us. We’re playing for everybody in Maine, we’re representing all of New England and we’ve got this thing with the Cancer Community Center. It’s definitely much bigger than us.”

Archer doesn’t think he’s done anything special. All he wanted to do was return to tennis.

“I kind of had rededicated myself to tennis,” he said. “I had played in high school and college, then put it away for 10 years. I had just started working out, going to the gym to get in shape, I had bought new rackets, then I was diagnosed.

“I just wanted to get through the treatments and everything to do with cancer as soon as possible.

“I didn’t tell many people. I almost wanted to forget about it. But once I got through it, I realized I could help us by raising awareness about early detection.”

Cancer, he said, is a subject that almost no one wants to talk about.

“I think it loosens everyone up to know I’m healthy and still have my sense of humor,” he said. “Really, we’re just a bunch of guys living the dream and trying to play some good tennis together.”

 

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

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