The Lord Percival Cup, the higher handicapper’s version of the Whitney Cup, took to the court in Philadelphia over the St. Patrick’s Day weekend. Seven teams came to duke it out to try to end the reign of the mighty Boston Tennis & Racquet Club. Washington put together two teams to up their chances of taking home the title facing off against two teams from Philadelphia and strong teams from Boston, Newport and New York.
Play started on Friday afternoon with all teams knowing they had a chance to win. With some great players in the draw and accusations of sandbagging sneaking through halls, it was decided that the first two doubles pairs would play off of half-handicap instead of level while the third pair would keep to playing off of full handicap. Two out of the three matches for each team match were played on Friday evening before the annual Irish Invitational Dinner Dance. With only one of the 3 matches decided by the first two played, many of the players had to tone back their gallivanting during the party. Off-court exploits played a role in on-court competition on Saturday morning as Newport, Boston and Washington moved on to the next round.
The semifinal matches on Saturday were about as good as it gets. Many of the matches were decided in three sets. With galleries filled with teammates and supporters, each game counted for more than the score. The first semifinal had a determined team from Washington taking out Newport 3 matches to love. Two-time repeating champion Boston came out firing in the other semi beating the other team from Washington. The members from Prince’s Court would have loved to have a Washington vs Washington showdown but alas it was not to be. This also would have created an interesting situation as Ryan Carey was playing on the #1 team for both Washington teams.
The tournament concluded on Sunday after all the shenanigans from St. Patrick’s Day on Saturday concluded. With a schedule change for the morning match, the finals were split up a bit. The Patton boys needed to play early moving the #3 match against Chris Blier and “The Senator” John Edwards. With a lop-sided first two sets, the match came down to a decisive third set. In the end, the father-son duo from PC took the match to put the Washington team in a position to win their first Lord Percival Cup. Before the final concluded, the consolation final took place with New York besting a team from Philadelphia 2 matches to 1. The #1’s for the final were up next. The team of Carey and Lacombe played like they were the last hope and wanted to close it out. With a fever of forces by Carey and exceptional gallery play by Lacombe, Washington took control from the service side. David Tedeschi and David Funk had their work cut out for them and could not take the 5/4 game at 40-all after battling back. The second set stayed close but Washington won key points to prevail 6/3. After the match, the awards ceremony took place with Temple Grassi giving a very heart-felt speech about how only years ago the Washington court was just a dream and the first time he heard someone say “C’mon Washington!” Washington completed the sweep in the final with the #2 team of Hoang/McCray beating Connors/Roberts 2 & 4.
Great times were had by all with several participants being newbies in Philadelphia and on the court tennis circuit. Many thanks go out to the pro shop of Gabe Kinzler, Steven Virgona, and Rob Whitehouse for a well run and well marked tournament.