This years Knox Handicap Doubles tournament featured 13 teams, which were spread into two pools of four and one pool of five teams for round robin play. The top six teams emerged into the quarterfinal round on Saturday evening. Gary Swantner and Ryan Carey received a handicap of receive 15 and played very well in their defeat of Rakesh Jasani and Michael Sullivan. Brothers Ben and Bob Cook dispatched Rick Preston and Paul Sauerborn 6/0 6/5, while in another all Aiken match Morgan Purvis and Geoff Ellis beat last years runners up Clayton Vaughters and Jason Mengel 6/3 6/1. The dark horse team of Aiken’s Bryan Haltermann and New York’s Adam Inselbuch fell just short of pulling of a massive upset of defending Knox Champions Lex Miron and Jeremy Wintersteen 6/5 5/6 3/6.
The Sunday morning Semi Finals got off to a very competitive start with Swantner and Carey edging the Cook brothers 6/5 in the first set. In the process however, Ryan and Gary were able to take control of the serving side of the court and built a lead of 4/0 in the second before they conceded a chase and lost serve. They did not loose it for long and never allowed Ben Cook to get into an attacking rhythm, and won the second set 6/0. In the second semi final Miron and Wintersteen just had too many shots and experience while weathing a huge handicap of owe half thirty, receive half thirty versus Purvis and Ellis to secure a spot in the finals 6/5 6/1.
In the finals Swantner and Carey played a solid game of applying relentless pressure to Miron and Wintersteen on top of the owe thirty, receive fifteen handicap. Ryan was able to combine his powerful forces with excellent retrieves while Gary defended the galleries and attacked when appropriate. Carey and Swantner ended up victorious 6/3 6/5.
First time Aiken visitor Zach Sacks from New York who teamed up with Brian Owens provides an interesting newcomers perspective to this report:
“This year’s Knox Doubles marked my first visit to the Aiken Tennis Club (as well as my first encounter with FAA furloughs). I had heard that the club is the country’s finest racquet club on one level. A tough billing; but I came away in full agreement. Between the steady flow of bottle pool, the well-provisioned bar (an excellent breed of Yuengling, if I may say so), and the enveloping couches in front of the TV, the beautiful royal dedans has stiff competition for attention. The high level of play, electric galleries, and, above all, unyielding graciousness of the ATC members evidenced to me that the Knox Doubles could very well be similar to a weekly round robin at the ATC. The operations, camaraderie, and general sense of comfort in and around the tournament came across so effortlessly. While my tournament result left much to be desired, I was almost happier to have the time enjoy the club and to meet its wonderful members. It was great to see standing-room-only galleries for nearly every match. In my short time around the game, I have not seen such consistent enthusiasm for the sport. Even the dreaded 9am Sunday match drew a vociferous crowd! Many thanks are due to the tournament committee, the club staff, and members; the Knox was a great success!
As tournament Chairman, I wish to thank all the players, especially our visitors who traveled to play in our event. In addition, our social committee; Morgan Purvis, Francois Verglas, Rakesh Jasani, headed by Michael Sullivan for organizing such wonderful parties during the tournament. I extend a special thanks to Camden Riviere for his relentless marking throughout the weekend.
Submitted by Dacre Stoker