The Racquet and Tennis Club played host to the 21st annual Silver Racquet from November 7 – 10. The weekend began with a well-attended and fittingly boisterous stag dinner on Thursday night in memory of Edward F. Ulmann. Generations of fellow batsmen shared hilarious stories throughout the dinner, helping to build on Ulmann’s considerable lore. Consistent with Ulmann’s status as one of the most iconic players, the Racquet & Tennis club named its racquets court in his honor. Additionally, the North American Racquets Association commemorated the US Amateur Doubles trophy (a stunning racquets bat cast in sterling silver from the late nineteenth century) in the eight-time champion, Ulmann’s name.
Play began in earnest on Friday morning. Singles tennis titles up for grabs were the Silver Racquet Invitational and three flights of NY Open Handicaps. The weekend also included two stout racquets draws (the Silver Racquet paired doubles and the first iteration of the U-35 Handicap Singles) and the Silver Racquet Invitational Squash Doubles, which proved to be one of the highest level amateur doubles squash tournaments of the year.
Tennis matches were hotly contested from the start. Notable early matches in the Invitational included tense three setters between John Prenn (#1 seed) and Jeremy Wintersteen and Lex Miron (#4 seed) and Jonathan Larken. A full helping of incredible shotmaking and nail-biting momentum swings in both matches entertained the packed galleries. Prenn and Miron only just prevailed to meet each other in the semifinals of the Invitational.
NY Open handicap matches were first to eight game affairs. Players representing clubs from around the world displayed plenty of athletic prowess and exciting matches throughout the NY Open Handicap flights. As an example, Paris’ Philippe Travis ousted seven-time US national squash champion Julian Illingworth in the first round of the B flight.
Following the 550+ strong, always epic dinner dance on Saturday night, battles of will characterized the latter rounds of play on Sunday morning. The R&T’s own newcomer Peter Roessler, found a relatively easy route through the middle of the C draw to the finals against a formidable squash talent in Jeff Scherer. Roessler’s good gets and use of a racquets-inspired force paved the way through Scherer’s tried and true hands.
Racquet sport maven Ben Stein cruised through the handicap B flight to meet squash star Will Hartigan in the finals. In a close match throughout, Stein’s consistency and avoiding the penthouse were just enough for the title.
The A handicap draw featured an impressive run to the finals from the R&T’s Thomas McGinnis. He ousted former A champions Zach Sacks and Peter Pell on his way to face Washington’s (via the UK) Mark Mathias in the finals. Mathias was having quite the weekend, having dropped only eight games en route to the Invitational finals against reigning R&T singles club champion Miron and defeating World Racquets Champion James Stout and Boston professional Tony Hollins to reach the A Handicap finals.
Scheduled to play back to back finals beginning at noon on Sunday, Mathias dispatched the hard-hitting McGinnis with punishing forces and purely-hit floor shots. No matter what McGinnis tried and how close the game score got, Mathias replied relentlessly with flat, center-struck balls. 8-6 to Mathias in the A handicap.
Next up, the Invitational. Having prevailed over Miron in this year’s Jimmy Knott final in Newport, the mild-mannered Mathias followed a familiar game plan in what, prior to this tournament, was an unfamiliar court. The Brit’s fizzing railroads, sixth-sense anticipation, and pure shotmaking proved too much for an on form Miron. In a fantastic display of tennis overall, Mathias prevailed in a very close two sets.
Many thanks are due to the Racquet & Tennis Club professionals and staff. The weekend was a great success on and off all of the courts.