This year’s Etchebaster Cup Tournament, held at the Racquet & Tennis Club January 25 through 27, set the record for the second largest draw ever with twenty-four entrants from Boston, Washington, Tuxedo and New York. The format of the tournament was the same as the very successful Etchebaster tournament held at the R&T two years ago: to make the event more interesting to players with 30+ handicaps, the Tournament Committee (Tournament Chair, Lindsay McManus, and Tournament Organizer, Mike Gooding) added a consolation draw for players who did not win in their first match of the event, guaranteeing all players at least two matches and a chance to compete either for the cup itself or for the first and second prizes in the consolation draw. The result was a large field of entrants and an enthusiastic audience, which even on Sunday numbered almost twenty for the finals of the main draw and the consolation draw.
For the first time ever, the two finalists for the main draw, Ted Pardoe (of the R&T) and Michael Do (of Prince’s Club), were both players with handicaps in the 30s and, as chance would have it, both left-handed. Excitement for the finals was particularly high, in part because of the earlier stunning and surprise upset in the tournament by Michael Do of an unusually talented new player with a handicap in the 20s, proving that wit, guile and court experience can still sometimes triumph over youth and native talent. Equally exciting was Ted Pardoe’s path to the finals, losing only six games in six sets. In the much anticipated finals, both Ted and Michael played brilliantly, and the first set went to five-all, thirty-all before Ted prevailed. Ted went on to win the second set 6-3 and thereby the Cup in a match that was even closer than the score indicates.
Also for the first time ever, one of the finalists in the consolation round was a junior, seventeen-year-old Andrew Emil (son of David Emil). Andrew is a product of the juniors program that has been held at the R&T for the past few years (and encouraged by the USCTA) and is proof positive that the promotion of play by juniors can produce talented new players. In the finals of the consolation round, Giles Wrench (of the R&T) defeated Andrew Emil in a single ten-game set, 2-10.
The lion’s share of the credit for a very enjoyable weekend of court tennis goes to Mike Gooding, head pro at the R&T, for organizing and assisting in marking the event. Thanks also go to Andrew Fowler (assistant tennis pro at the R&T) and Jacques Faulise (of Newport) for marking and keeping the matches on schedule.