Coming days before a momentous Presidential election, it’s fitting that the theme of this year’s Silver Racquet is change, as youth ascended in dramatic fashion.
A harbinger of things to come was a 1st round match between the ageless veteran, Greg Van Schaack and a Van Alen Cup player, 26 year old Will Thompson. Will entered the match ranked 2 ½ handicap points lower than Greg but proved he’s rapidly on the rise, winning 6/5, 6/3.
The next signal came from a captivating quarterfinal between Jeremy Wintersteen and another Van Alen Cup player, 24 year old Pat Winthrop, who has been well-served by spending time in Australia. Many points were classic backhand-to-backhand duels and the rallies were grueling. Each player capitalized on and missed opportunities in this long 3-setter, with Pat eventually winning 6/5 3/6 6/2. (Note: Jeremy eventually had a degree of revenge, beating Pat in the Open A Handicap en route to winning that title.)
Providing further evidence of how much new talent we have in the game, 29 year old Addison West faced a 3rd Van Alen Cup player, his 24 year old squash pal, Greg Park, in another quarterfinal. While Addison won 6/1 6/4, Greg showed he’s coming fast by taking a 3-0 lead in the 2nd set.
The other quarterfinals went according to form, as the two top seeds, Lex Miron and Guy Devereux, won handily. This set up two interesting semifinal duels: Lex v Addison and Guy v Pat.
Change then arrived in a very big way on Sunday morning.
Addison showed to all that he’s progressed from outstanding athlete to savvy, thoughtful player as he took out Lex in straight sets, 6/2 6/2. While Addison’s always extremely critical of himself, I thought his play was stellar, especially from the hazard side. He varied pace, length and location, and took away Lex’ ability to control points (which Lex usually does masterfully).
Pat, who had wondered about his chances against Guy, then pulled off an even bigger surprise. He took the 1st set handily, 6/2. Guy rallied to take the 2nd, 6/3, but Pat showed his resilience by winning the final set, 6/3.
And so the final matched youth against youth. Most viewed Addison as the favorite but Pat jumped out to a 6/4 4/2 lead, confounding Addison with a high sidewall serve (which seemed to be very much in vogue in this tournament). Ultimately, Addison recovered to win the middle set by 6/4 and then won a close 3rd set, 6/5.
The tournament’s impact: clear proof of the benefits of bringing skilled new talent into our game. Kudos to all who’ve progressed so quickly. And special congratulations to Addison and Pat. You inspire and energize all of us!
We, including Lex and Guy (who both will regroup, adjust and come back with full force in the upcoming Whitney Cup), salute you.
Silver Racquet Draw