The annual Jimmy Dunn weekend at the Racquet Club of Philadelphia was superbly superlative.
A large, ever moving crowd of players—over a hundred people entered at least one of the dozen draws available—and spectators graced the fourth and fifth floors for three full days. Each day somewhere on the downward side of noon, there was that unspecifed moment when people stopped clutching hooded cups of coffee and started carrying cups of beer from the pub club keg. There were the usual signature Dunn moments: the splay of racquets, handles up, outside the racquets court; sitting in the clerestory with people you’ve never met before; having a laugh in the reading room with an old friend under the warm eye of “The Spirit of the Night;” eating a bacon & egg bagel late on Saturday night during the dinner dance; finding every couch upstairs filled with a slumbering body the next morning. A fair number of young Tennis & Racquet Club guys came down from Boston, many sporting a Movember moustache, a couple came from England and all had fun.
Jacques Swanepoel, the South African-born Trinity grad who now coaches Columbia’s squash team, carried off two trophies on his inaugural trip to the Dunn, winning the squash singles over surprise finalist Todd Ruth and teaming with Dent Wilkins to win the doubles over Rich Sheppard & Shane Coleman. In the Jock Soutar racquets draws, Jon Crowell likewise did the Dunn double, grabbing the singles over surprise finalist Zach Sacks and the doubles with Matt Breuer over Jeremy Wintersteen & Jim Zug.
The core of the Dunn is the tennis doubles, and the Racquet Club of Philadelphia’s court, which turned 105 a few days before the tournament, was the scene of epic matches. And many of them: play began on Thursday, Friday’s schedule had the last match start at 11pm and on both Saturday and Sunday the first match was 7am.
Lou Habina had the luck to play in both those 7am matches on his way to winning, with Bill River, the E consolations. The E main-draw winners were John Broussard & Scilla Smith, who beat Richard Griffith & Kurt Wulfekuhler 8-4.
In the D division, it was the same score in the finals, with Brit Elmore & JP Patton getting past Petra Napolitano & Andrew Adamson (from Petworth). The D consos went to Temple Grassi (one of a half dozen Grassis on hand for the weekend) & Kathy Carson.
And the same 8-4 scoreline came out of the C division finals, Bill Connors & Brad Ursprung topped John Iole & Robin Williams (also from Petworth). In the C consos, Kip Curren & Amanda Avedissian reunited to take the laurels.
The last match of Sunday afternoon was the B division finals, which saw Andrew Purcell & Gary Swantner swat their way to a 6-5, 6-3 victory over Kirk Heilbrun & Dick Tanfield. There was no B consolations, as it was a round-robin with two sub-divisions before a final. But, the Bs were highly competitive with two 5-all, 40-all in the third matches.
In the A division finale, Purcell & Rich Moroscak cruised to a 6-0, 6-2 victory over Norris Jordan & Steve Rozek.
The final of the open division, played before a packed gallery, was one of most hard-fought and exciting in the four-decade history of the Dunn. Coming into the weekend, Rob Whitehouse, the head pro at RCOP and 2011 inductee into the Hall of Fame, had won six Dunns in the past ten years, including last year with fellow RCOP pro Gabe Kinzler. His winning partner from 2008, 2009 and 2010, Barney Tanfield, now a pro in New York, teamed with one of New York’s best amateurs, Lex Miron. Whitehouse & Kinzler snatched the first set 6-5. On the hazard side, Tanfield & Miron switched receiving at the end of the set and tore through the second set 6-1, with Whitehouse & Kinzler conceding the last game from the hazard side in order to switch receiving a second time.
The last set was a humdinger. Whitehouse & Kinzler went up 4-3 and 5-4 but each time Tanfield & Miron came back. A crucial moment came at 4-3, 40-30 for Whitehouse & Kinzler, defending a chase of 3 and 4 which they were unable to do. It went to 5-all. At 30-30, a tremendous rally ensued, with both Kinzler and Whitehouse cannoning heavy, menacing balls towards the dedans time and time again, and Tanfield and Miron doing all they could to merely block the ball back. Whitehouse ended the rally with an unfortunate forehand into the net. At 40-30, Kinzler immediately redeemed the error by threading a straight, forehand force through Tanfield & Miron’s defenses and into the dedans. At 40-all—game, set, match and championship point—another terrific rally ensued. A ball came off the service penthouse and Miron chipped it high cross-court. Whitehouse thought it was going to nick off the tambour and shouted, “you” but the ball slithered just past the tambour and into the grille, ringing the bells and bringing the curtain down on another impressive Jimmy Dunn weekend.
Revised draws attached