The thing I think I’ll remember most is the birds. It all seemed so out of place. Here I was, in the middle of one of the greatest masses of humanity on the planet, and all I could hear were the birds chirping. I’d fought my way onto the Throgs Neck Bridge, which spans the Bronx and Nassau Counties, in the great state of New York, onto the congested Cross Island "Parkway," from there to the happily-ever-after-under-construction Long Island "Distressway," all to attend the first ever national women’s championship tournament at the Whitney court in Manhasset, New York. The sheer energy of the greater Metropolitan area, the smog, the din, the unique brand of New York hospitality, all cease at the gates of Greentree. There, on at least 400 acres of the most rarified real estate in the country, one can still find the wondrous tradition of sport played by true sportsmen kept alive by the Whitney family for generations.
The tennis house is as it always has been, an oasis in the middle of a veritable garden of Eden. Quiet country lanes, lined with cobbled gutters, cross mown meadows and pass barns, orchards and glades which are impossibly, lushly, green. Discreet signs lead the uninitiated to the Shangri-La of court tennis.
There, in a cool building shaded by towering trees, no doubt planted in Payne Whitney’s time to shelter the building in the heat of summer, 14 women were privileged to compete for the 2000 U.S. Ladies’ Open Court Tennis Championships. And there, for four fabulous spring days in May, the twittering and chirping of Greentreeís avian residents wafted from the rafters above the court, blending with the thump of tennis balls on a penthouse roof.
Our gracious host was the Greentree Foundation. Our incomparable tournament directors were the dynamic duo of Judy Carli and Julie Rinaldini. Our patient professionals were Jack Hickey, of Greentree, and Tom Greevy and Ken Jacobs, of Tuxedo.
Our #1 seed was Penny Lumley, who has won this event twice previously, both singles and doubles. Her opponents: #2 seed and newcomer, Jo Iddles, also of England; #3 seed Pru McCahey from Australia (last week’s Boston Open winner); #4 seed, top U.S. player, Jane Lippincott, and 12 other hopefuls from five U.S. clubs.
The seedings held true as Lumley and Iddles advanced to meet in Sundayís final. Lumley dropped only two games en-route, defeating Jen Winthrop (Newport) 0,0; Sheila Reilly (Newport) 0,1; and Karen Toates (Melbourne) by the same score.
Iddles, a professional lawn tennis player who took up the game six months ago, had only a slightly more difficult time to the final, defeating Ginny Goodyear (Aiken) 1,2; and Brenda Sabbag (Boston/Newport) 5,1. Sabbag pressed Iddles in the first set, leaping out to a 5/2 lead, but couldn’t hold the advantage.
The final was a great display of Penny’s clean and classic court tennis game vs. Joís tremendous agility and powerful volleying. However, Penny’s experience won the day, with a straight set victory, 2,0, to claim the U.S. Open Ladiesí Singles title for the third time.
In the doubles, the #1 seeded team of Lumley and Evelyn David (Tuxedo), who won this event last year, reached the final again with a win over Iddles and Julie Rinaldini (Greentree) 0,4. Their opponents were the #3 seeds, Australians Toates and McCahey, who turned back Reilly/Goodyear 5,3; and #2 seeds Lippincott/Sabbag, 6/4, 5/6, 6/4.
In a highly entertaining game, Lumley and David prevailed, despite the final being Lumley’s third match of the day, with a solid 6/4, 6/5 win.
The plate singles was won by David over Rinaldini, 6/2, 6/3.
The inaugural Sportsmanship Award was won by Emily Boenning of the Newport club.
Rinaldini and Carli ran arguably the most entertaining and enjoyable U.S. Ladiesí Open in several years. It is a delight to have Julie back in the game, and to have Judy’s energy and enthusiasm. We hope to see more events run by these wonderful women.
Lumley def. Winthrop 0,0.
Reilly def. Rinaldini 0,0.
Toates def. Boenning 1,2.
McCahey def. Judy Carli (Tuxedo) 1,0.
Sabbag def. Petra Napolitano (Tuxedo) 0,1.
Goodyear def. David 1,1.
Lumley def. Reilly 0,1.
Toates def. Lippincott, 4, 2/6, 2.
Sabbag def. McCahey 5, 0/6, 4.
Iddles def. Goodyear 1,2.
Lumley def. Toates 0,1.
Iddles def. Sabbag 5,1.
Lumley def. Iddles 2,0.
Iddles/Rinaldini def. Winthrop/Boenning 0,1.
McCahey/Toates def. Reilly/Goodyear 5,3.
Lumley/David def. Iddles/Rinaldini 0,4.
McCahey/Toates def. Lippincott/Sabbag 4, 5/6, 4.
Lumley/David def. McCahey/Toates 2,5.