The Court Tennis version of March Madness happened last weekend in Philadelphia as 21 veteran players competed to win national championships in the 40 and 50 singles and doubles tournaments.  The age level tournaments were a war of attrition as veteran players tried to survive injuries, fierce competition and social events to bring home a title or two. Your brackets were busted if you picked the favorite to win any of these four tournaments, as all of the number 1 seeds were defeated.

The tournaments got underway on Friday with no surprising results. The closest match of the day was in the 50’s doubles where Norris Jordan and Peter Clement took down John Madzin and Peter Vogt in three sets in front of a packed house consisting mostly of bewildered French Heritage Society Club spectators who had been promised an exhibition of Jeu de Paume before their Armagnac tasting. After play concluded, the players and their supporters staged their own sampling of spirits at The Happy Rooster. Many of them were seen consulting with Erik Barker, recent 12 and under national champion, about how to win a national age level championship.

Saturday dawned too bright and early for Jordan, number 1 seed and party host , who was bounced from the 50’s singles by the unseeded Madzin.  Madzin continued on to the final by ousting fellow Philadelphian Kirk Heilbrun in the semi. Meanwhile, in the other half of the draw, Steve Hufford grinded out a three set semi-final victory over Bruce Manson.  In the 40’s singles, Rich Moroscak showed top-seeded Lex Miron the door and Barker cruised by Christian Bullitt. In the 40’s doubles, a third tournament lost its favorite, as hometown team Peter Hill and Drew McGowan beat Miron and Bullitt to complete a bad day for Lex.

The stage was set for Sunday, which commenced with the semis of the 50’s doubles. Ted Manges recaptured some of his old magic and rallied the Manges/Jordan team to a three set victory over Greg Van Schaack and Vogt.  In the 40’s singles final, Rich Moroscak used a variety of serves to keep Bill Barker off-balance and on the hazard side. Although Barker forced the ball effectively, Moroscak was even better, relying on numerous volley winners to prevail 6-4, 6-2.  Prince’s Court players continued their domination of the events in the 50’s singles final, where Steve Hufford squeaked out a tough 6-5 first set against John Madzin and then polished him off in the second set. Madzin won points on his classic floor shot return but not enough of them to prevail over a determined Hufford and his relentless retrieving. The 50’s doubles final produced great tennis. Hill and McGowan were able to win most of the long rallies against Moroscak and Barker. The problem for the Philadelphians was that Moroscak/Barker team won most of the short points and prevailed in straight sets. 

All that remained to be played was the 50’s doubles final, pitting Manson and Hufford against Jordan and Manges.  Early on, it looked like it was going to be an easy match for the Manson/Hufford pair.  They jumped out to a 3-0 lead and Jordan was limping on a bad ankle.  But whether it was the cream or the clear, the stuff that Norris had rubbed on his ankle started to work. The Manges/Jordan team played better on four legs than three and stormed back to win the first set. Having seized the momentum, they played even better in the second set and won the match on their fifth match point when Jordan hit into the winning gallery.

Current USCTA guidelines constrain this reporter from attributing quotes to specific individuals but the savvy reader may be able to determine who said the following lines during the weekend:

“I have to play him again? This will be the 632nd time.”

“Psycho Killer, qu’est que c’est.”

“I think I am winning the award for worst father of the year”

“Never coming back to this place”

“Ow, my {ankle, knee, arm, head} hurts”

“The locker room furniture would be much more comfortable if they hadn’t stolen all of the cushions”

Many thanks to Gabe Kinzler and Rob Whitehouse for marking all of the matches and never missing a call.