By Ben Cook
The United States headed to Hobart, Tasmania in early April looking to compete with the world’s best amateur players in the 2015 Bathurst Cup. Captain Ben Cook of Charleston, SC who was making his second consecutive Bathurst appearance led this year’s squad. Joining him were first-timers Pat Winthrop of Newport, RI and Jon Crowell of Philadelphia, PA. The Americans, as did the three other countries, arrived two days early to check out the freshly renovated Hobart court. The new court was well received by all, offering a blue colored court with fantastic lighting.
The tournament started with a well-attended cocktail party that allowed the players to mingle with members of the club and sponsors. After a short ceremony with all four national anthems being sung by a local choir, the draw was conducted and created pairings of the United States vs. Great Britain and Australia vs. France.
In the first rubber with Great Britain, American Jon Crowell matched up with Conor Medlow, weeks removed from his British Amateur title. The first two sets were very tightly contested, with Medlow escaping by a close 6-4, 6-4 margin. Crowell had played really well the first two sets, but found himself unable to break the crafty, young left-hander. Medlow sprinted through the third set 6-1, giving the Brits a 1-0 lead.
The second rubber saw Pat Winthrop for the United States taking on Jamie Douglas of England. The first two sets featured some really hard hitting, with both players playing very aggressively. Douglas’s big game had all the answers in taking a 6-3, 6-3 lead after two sets. Much like Crowell, Winthrop found that he had played well but had no luck in stealing a set from the English. In the third set Douglas, changed to a steady floor game that was successful in wearing Winthrop down 6-1.
Both Crowell and Winthrop had played really well for two sets in the singles, but were worn down in the third sets by the Brits. After some deliberation, the Americans went with Winthrop and Ben Cook in the doubles, who had been severely hampered by tennis elbow in the weeks leading up to the Bathurst. Medlow and Douglas looked to make quick of the American duo, dominating the first set 6 games to 1. But Winthrop found his rhythm on the floor on both sides, and Cook kept the Brits off balance with effective serving. In almost no time, the Americans cruised to a 6-0 second set win. The third set was really competitive with Great Britain securing a hard fought 6-4 third set. The third set loss didn’t deflate the Americans, as they jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the fourth. Fighting off game points in almost every game, the English stormed back to take a 5-4 lead and ultimately the fourth set 6-5.
Having clinched the match, the dead rubbers were won by Medlow over Winthrop 6-2, 6-4 and Crowell taking a 5-6, 6-2, 6-2 win over English substitute Louis Gordon 5-6, 6-2, 6-2. The United States had some chances throughout the first three days, but the 4-1 win pushed England into the finals. Their opponent in the finals would be Australia, who defeated France 4-1 to advance to the finals.
As many had probably expected, a United States – France clash would decide the 3rd/4th playoff. Match 1 saw the American Jon Crowell taking on Frenchman Julian Bey. The Americans were counting on a win from Crowell to start off and it looked liked they would get it. After splitting the first to sets, Crowell lead 4-2 in the third set. Fighting off numerous game points along the way, the Frenchman stormed back for a 6-4 third set to steal the match from the United States.
With France leading 1-0, the methodical Frenchman Matthieu Sarlangue took to the court with Pat Winthrop. Winthrop again played a hard fought, very competitive match (3-6, 3-6) but was always playing from behind and never could get the lead to test Sarlangue.
Now in a 0-2-hole heading into doubles, Cook and Winthrop were slated to play against France’s Sarlangue and Michel Brunoro. The U.S. started out playing very solid doubles with Winthrop’s steadiness in the backcourt giving Cook a chance to be a force with his volleying all over the court. The Americans played very well in taking 4-2 first set, and 3-1 second set leads, but unfortunately they couldn’t close the deal in either set losing 4-6, 3-6. France also won both of the “dead rubbers” to seal a 5-0 victory and clinch third place.
In the overall championship, Australia’s veterans survived a severe test from the talented young Great Britain team 3-2. The win gave the Aussies their third consecutive Bathurst Cup.
The Hobart club did a fantastic job with this event. The week was highlighted with numerous social events and ended with an outstanding dinner/closing ceremony at a local restaurant. Players from all four countries were honored with how they were treated throughout the week. Hobart is to be commended for a job well done and setting a very high standard for years to come in Bathurst Cup competitions.
TO GO TO THE TOURNAMENT WEBSITE:
TO WATCH THE MATCHES GO TO: