Sunny skies, with temperatures in the 80’s, were the order for the weekend, as Tuxedo hosted the 2010 US Mixed Doubles and the Noll Cup. Along with record temperatures, both events set records, as Garrett Gates won his third level championship of the year and Jane Lippincott clinched her tenth Mixed doubles title.
Garrett Gates, of Boston, having taken up the game in December, won the Noll Cup – the level championship for handicaps between 30 and 39. No stranger to the level championships, Gates, a former All-American lawn tennis player, had won the Hickey Cup (handicaps 60+) and the Wharton Cup (handicaps 50-59) handily in January.
Gates went through the top half of the draw, defeating Richard Gilder and #1 seed Ginny Goodyear, in straight sets to make it to the final. The bottom half of the draw was more of a nail-biter! Gary Swantner, the #3 seed, had a tough opening match with Jake McCray, winning 6/5 in the third, to get to the semifinal round. Ed Hughes, the #2 seed, dispatched a much younger, Alex Rodzianko in three sets to face Swantner in Sunday’s semifinal.
The match between Swantner and Hughes was a battle! A very fit Hughes relied on a classic groundstrokes and strong serving game – reminiscent of his coaching days with Barry Toates. (For those of you that remember Toates, you will also recognize that Hughes had a few years on the younger Swantner!) Swantner relied on a strong retrieving game, keeping the ball in play, in order to force Hughes to make errors. The first set was close, with Swantner leading, only to lose the set 6/5. Swantner regrouped and won the next set 6/2. In the third set, he took the lead and was up 5/2, only to have Hughes claw his way back into the match. Suddenly, the score was five-all and it was anybody’s guess as to the outcome. After several deuce points, Swantner rallied to force Hughes to make several racquet errors and win the match 6/5.
With just over an hours rest, Swantner was back on court for what would be his third three set match of the weekend. The final between Gates and Swantner was one of similar styles. Both retrieved well, with Gates having a slight edge due to his lawn tennis volley. The points were long, with neither player putting the ball away, but rather waiting for the other to make an error. Gates took the first set 6/3 and Swantner took the second 6/3, setting up a third set. The final set was much like the first two, but Swantner, started to tire from his earlier match. He put up a fight, but Gates had too much energy and won the final set 6/2. Gates is the only person to have won three level championships in one season!
Tuxedo also played host to the US Mixed Doubles. Jane Lippincott partnered with Pat Winthrop to win the Mixed. Winthrop and Lippincott, made a good pairing, have played together in numerous club doubles – both level and handicap – and Pell Cups over the years. Despite their comfort level, though, they had a real battle in the semifinal round with the hard-hitting, big volley duo of Amanda Avedissian and Ryan Carey. Winthrop and Lippincott admitted to being a bit “spooked” by Avedissian and Carey’s style. Winthrop tried to do too much with the ball ending up in many penthouse balls and Lippincott was unable to find her volley, ending up in a first set loss of 6/3. Winthrop and Lippincott dominated the second set by taking away Avedissian’s volley and Carey’s drilling shots. Unfortunately, Avedissian took a hit in the head from a ball off the tambour and Carey broke his glasses defending a force into the dedans. So with a few starts and stops, the second set went to Winthrop and Lippincott, 6/1. They took the lead in the third set 4/1, only to revert back to their first set sloppy play, allowing Carey and Avedissian the opportunity to tie the score at 4-all. At that point, Winthrop and Lippincott decided to put the metal to the pedal and close out the set and the match, 6/4.
On the other half of the draw, Greg Van Schaack and Ginny Goodyear won all their matches in straight sets. Their semifinal was a well-played match in which they defeated the hard boasting Alan McHugh and veteran Evelyn David.
Fortunately, the final was delayed due to the Swantner/Hughes battle, allowing Winthrop to re-fuel with his typical training diet of cheese fries and grilled cheese and bacon sandwiches, while his partner relied on ice and Power Bars!
Van Schaack and Goodyear won the first game of the final, but Winthrop and Lippincott took the next 12 to win the match 6/1, 6/0. Van Schaack, playing his classic cut game, combined with Goodyear’s steady volley, was more in Winthrop and Lippincott’s comfort zone. Winthrop hit medium-paced floor shots, combined with main wall forces, while Lippincott found her volley to provide some defense and some offensive put aways. All played well, but Winthrop and Lippincott both admitted to being in the zone and were unstoppable.
For Lippincott, it was the elusive tenth Mixed Doubles Championship and Winthrop’s second consecutive title.