A tennis team featuring two UMSL marketing and communications staff members will play in the World Team Tennis National Championships after winning the qualifer tournament last week in Kansas City, Mo. The team includes (from left) UMSL Director of Communications Bob Samples, Peggy Taylor, Cara McJunkin, Erick Prado, Krista Fisher and UMSL Chief Marketing Officer Ron Gossen.

With the temperature near 100 degrees, the final winning shot – a bullet – split the middle of the court. Shoulders slumped in exhaustion and defeat on one side, while the other side smiled in celebration having just won the World Team Tennis National Qualifier Tournament.

Among those smiling were two University of Missouri–St. Louis marketing and communications staffers. Team Captain Ron Gossen, chief marketing officer at UMSL, and Bob Samples, director of communications at UMSL, led their team to a 10-0 season record earning the right to compete in the WTT National Qualifier, held July 13-15 in Kansas City, Mo. They are part of a six-member team that has earned a slot in the WTT National Championships to be held in November in Indian Wells, Calif.

Gossen and Samples’ team are 38-2 over the past four seasons. The team then went 3-0 (34-19, 34-18, 35-13) in the national qualifier against select teams from Oklahoma, Iowa and Missouri.

“We were nervous at the start,” Gossen said. “But Bob got rolling quickly, dominating our opponents with his soft-touch finesse and quickness. That settled everyone down, then we just played great. I’m not sure we’ve ever played better as a team. It was certainly the right time to play in ‘the zone.’”

The WTT National Championship berth puts them in the top eight teams nationally in their WTT tennis classification. WTT is a mixed tennis format, with match competition consisting of men’s and women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles and two sets of mixed doubles competition.

The winning team included Gossen, Samples, U.S. Treasury Agent Krista Fisher, attorney Cara McJunkin, wine distributor Peggy Taylor and Monsanto accountant Erick Prado.

Bob Samples

Bob Samples

Bob Samples is associate vice chancellor for university communications at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.