The 2013 Ladies’ Invitational was held on a bright and crisp spring weekend in Newport. 13 women competed, including newcomer Ruth Kelley from Philadelphia. Look for Ruth to figure prominently in women’s tennis in the future; with only six months’ experience, she exhibited tremendous talent.
But for the present, experience was not to be denied, as the singles finalists, Sheila Reilly and Petra Napolitano, teamed up to take the doubles from Ruth and Amy MacMillan, overcoming a slow start to do so, 5/6, 6/1, 6/2.
In the singles draw, Reilly, the #4 seed, reached the final when the #1 seed Brenda
Sabbag, had to default at 5/6, retired, citing a recurring ankle injury. Napolitano, the #3 seed, turned back Kelley in an energetic and entertaining three-set cocktail match, 3/6, 6/4, 6/3.
Reilly, giving her opponent twenty years, somehow managed to use her floor game to jump out to an early lead in the title match, but Petra has a powerful, all-or-nothing style to her play and she roared back to even the final at a set apiece, setting up a seesaw, nail-biting final set. Reilly fell behind 3-1, then climbed back to 3-all, got to 4-all and finally held match points at 5/4 in the third. Changing ends to defend a chase of one yard, she watched as Napolitano blasted her service return into the dedans to beat the chase, then gave up the service end on a chase 3&4, never to regain it. Petra won the game to even the match at 2/6, 6/2, 5-all and served four unreturned serves to win the championship. Petra has worked hard on her game, her fitness and her “head” this season, and deserved this win.
The backdraw was won by Beth Winthrop, mother of Pat, #1 US player. Tennis has been a family affair for the Winthrops for years: Beth was joined in this tournament by her mother, Mary Stevens and her daughter, Jen. Beth defeated newcomer Shirley Frietag 10/2 in the backdraw final. Beth and Shirley teamed up to win the backdraw doubles 10/2 over two other new players, Ellen Hermann and Rose Escobar, by the same score.
Thanks to Jane Lippincott, Amy MacMillan, Phoebe Livingston Lopez (P Lo), and the pros Rich Smith and Sergio Lopez.