Two huge “firsts” occurred this past weekend: a Whitney Cup final without New York, Philadelphia or Greentree playing and a win for New England.
On a thrilling, roller-coaster ride of a Sunday, New England snatched victory from the jaws of defeat and outlasted a gallant group from Washington, 3 matches to 2.
Seniors set the tone for the day. New England’s Jonathan Pardee & Alex Walsh, who played brilliant tennis in decisively winning the clinching match against Greentree on Saturday (at my expense), looked to be solid favorites versus Robin Martin & Wes Price. But, as often happens in the Whitney Cup, surprise, surprise: Robin & Wes had match point in the 2nd set. Jon & Alex saved it, though, and went on to win a 3 set, 2 ¼ hour marathon.
#4 paired New England’s John Damon & Shawn Herlihy (unexpectedly doing double duty and substituting for an injured Rob McLane) playing Kris Motz & Ryan Carey. In another suspenseful match, Washington won in 3 long sets.
That set up a critical duel at #1 between New England’s Jeremy Wintersteen & Matt Porter (both of whom played superbly versus Greentree) against Rich Moroscak and Eric Pearson. Rich and Eric were able to neutralize Matt’s roaming ability a bit and took the 1st set, 6/5. A tight 2nd set went to New England and, not unexpectedly, the 3rd set came down to 5-all. Needless to say, it was bedlam in the dedans. Two quick points to Washington and it was 30-love, with that duo looking strong. Four points later, however, it was over as Jeremy & Matt regrouped and won the match.
New England now looked to be in the driver’s seat.
About an hour later, though, it was a different ballgame.
The #2 and #3 matches were played simultaneously as it was getting late. On the east court, Washington’s #2 team, John Motz and Bill Barker, was up a set and 5-3 over Doug Spear & Pat Winthrop. On the west court, Washington’s #3 team, Bradley Allen & Ryan Carey (subbing for an injured Steve Hufford), was up a set and 5-2 over George Bell & Shawn Herlihy.
We spectators kept running back and forth between the 2 courts as it appeared both matches would soon end, resulting in a Whitney Cup win for Washington.
And as expected at that point, Washington did clinch the #3 match, 6/4 6/3, to square things at 2 matches all.
Back to the east court we ran, where New England made an adjustment: having Pat play back in the forehand corner while serving. That shift turned matters around as it allowed the team to play to its strengths. Soon it was 5-all.
Then it was deuce, Washington serving, one chase in hand and a seemingly endless point that may have determined the Cup. Washington hit 3 or 4 balls that were about to be down on the hazard side but Pat Winthrop did his best Jeremy Wintersteen imitation, lowered his body to the ground and made several remarkable backhand gets. We were gasping as each get was better than the last. Finally, a racquet error gave the point to New England. Over to the service side they came and Pat & Doug quickly closed the door, winning the next point to take the 2nd set, 6/5.
Momentum had clearly shifted. New England ran out to a 5/1 lead and eventually took the set 6/3, for the team’s 1st Whitney Cup ever. (Note: Boston had won the cup in ’31 and ’58.)
On behalf of all who watched or played, congratulations to both teams for their rapid progress, well thought-out game plans and high-caliber play. As Mike Gooding said, the quality of play was the best he’s seen—at least since the event moved to New York—and much of the credit goes to these two teams.
You’ve made it clear to those of us who play for Greentree, New York (which was ambushed by Washington Saturday), Philadelphia and Tuxedo that we need to ratchet it up a notch or two to truly stand toe-to-toe with you next year.
On a separate note, Friday evening’s events brought alive the rich tradition of the Whitney Cup at Greentree. Our desire to do so was inspired by the fact that a whopping 37 of the 60 players in this year’s event never had a chance to sample the Greentree experience.
Peter DiBonaventura assembled a wonderful array of memorabilia, including photographs of every aspect of the Greentree, an original 1915 signed invitation to the Greentree’s opening and countless old photographs.
Jack Hickey & Dan deRoulet, while not able to attend, contributed numerous photographs of the court and players from past years.
And many speakers, most of them spontaneously, came up and told their own personal Greentree stories. Peter, Alexis & I would like to especially thank Pete Bostwick, Sam Howe, George Bell, Rob McLane, Howard McMorris, Charlie Johnstone and Norris Jordan for such rich story-telling.
(by Bob Hay, with contributions by Alexis Hombrecher)