2016 SILVER RACQUET
by the Committee
The Racquet & Tennis Club hosted The Silver Racquet November 9th-13th. In addition to 7 fully-subscribed draws in Racquets, Tennis and Squash, the weekend included the Second Leg of the World Racquets Doubles Championship, a Stag Dinner on Thursday Night for 70+ and a festive Saturday Night Dinner Dance for nearly 550.
The Silver Racquet weekend continues to draw in many players from the US and abroad. This year, 100 entrants competed in 95 matches for 4 titles: The New York Open Handicap A, B and C draws as well as the coveted Silver Racquet Invitational Tennis Singles. This is the largest field in the tournament’s history, outdoing last year’s event by sixteen players.
Silver Racquet Invitational Singles
This year’s Silver Racquet Invitational was expanded to include a Qualification draw. Ken Soffer and Will Thompson both scored victories over higher ranked opponents on their way through to the main draw.
The main draw featured eight of the top-ten ranked amateurs in the country, with Nicolas Victoir and Mike Noll the top-seeds. Play began early on Friday morning with a meeting between two of the best up-and-coming players in the country, Jon Crowell and Peter Cipriano. Both players demonstrated why they are so highly rated with some spectacular retrieving and exquisite shot making. In a tightly fought final set, Crowell was able to come out on top 6/4. Crowell continued his good form in the Quarter Finals later that day, upsetting #2 seed Mike Noll, again in three tight sets. The surprises continued later in the day with Tom McGinnis edging out defending champion Pat Winthrop 6/5 in the final set. Lex Miron and Nicolas Victoir took the other Semi-Final spots with victories over Danny McBride and John Prenn respectively.
The two surprise semi-finalists, Tom McGinnis and Jon Crowell, faced off for a spot in the Final. Crowell was unable to find his rhythm early on, letting McGinnis take the first set without the loss of a game. The second set was much more fiercely contested with Crowell finding the grille and dedans with increased regularity. McGinnis was mixing precise cut shots with some heavy hitting of his own, bringing the scores to 5-all. It was McGinnis who took an early lead in the decisive game, and despite Crowell saving a couple of match points, McGinnis was able to seal his slot in the final.
The second semi-final featured two previous Silver Racquet winners, Nicolas Victoir and Lex Miron. Miron had edged out Danny McBride in three sets in the Quarters, whilst Victoir was looking imperious during a routine victory over John Prenn. Despite Miron’s best efforts to change the pace, angles and spin of his serve and returns Victoir was able to impose himself on the match. Miron forced many of the games to deuce but was unable to convert these openings into games. Victoir came through, booking his place in the final with a straight sets victory.
The two finalists are frequent practice partners, and both knew their opponents games inside out. McGinnis want into the match as the underdog, a position he had overcome all weekend. Victoir looked fresh and began strongly, but was never comfortably ahead. After moving out to a 5/3 lead, he was able to press home his advantage and take the first set. McGinnis looked as if his prior grueling matches were beginning to catch up with him. Though there was no lack of fight, he begun missing his targets allowing Victoir to control proceedings. Victoir was able to close out the match 6/3 6/1 for his third Silver Racquet Invitational Singles title.
New York Open Handicap A
This year the New York Open Handicap “A” division featured an expanded draw. Handicaps ranged from 0 through to 33, with many matches being played off of large, unforgiving handicaps. Local player, Tyler Gaffney, was the early beneficiary of a couple of “banned tambour, one serve” handicaps, and took two pros (Adrian Kemp and Conor Medlow) out on his way to the Quarter Finals.
There was better news elsewhere for the Pro contingent, with Barney Tanfield and Neil Smith both advancing despite giving up considerable handicaps. Their paths crossed in the Quarters where it was Tanfield who came out on top, mixing his trademark forcing with an array of elegant touch play.
Elsewhere Anders Cohen made it through to the Quarters after overcoming a 7/3 deficit, and holding his nerve at 7-all 40-all. He wasn’t able to repeat the trick, as he was edged out in the next round by Gaffney, again at 7-all 40-all.
Tanfield and Gaffney were joined in the Semi-Finals by fellow R&TC representatives Rahul Vinnakota and Shep Skiff. Vinnakota and Skiff had both recorded impressive victories on their way through the early rounds. Skiff held a 6/2 lead against Tanfield in the first Semi, but could not keep the momentum going. Tanfield monopolized the service end, and despite being deprived of the tambour, was able to string together a series of points using a heavy main wall boast. Tanfield ran out an 8/6 winner.
The other semi between Gaffney and Vinnakota was handicapped more evenly. However, the +15 that Gaffney received was crucial to edging out Vinnakota. Early on, the games were tightly fought, and evenly spilt, but Gaffney took several vital 40-all points to progress to the Final.
Tanfield and Gaffney met in the Final, with Tanfield facing a talented nationally ranked paddle player in addition to a banned Tambour, one serve handicap. Tanfield continued his control of the service end but strayed onto the Tambour in several crucial points. Gaffney was able to close out and take the title 8/5.
New York Open Handicap B
Twenty-seven players from eight clubs competed for the tightest handicapped event (35-49). A host of out-of-towners thrived including Sewall Hodges, Daniel Verhave, Patrick Maxwell and James Blackburn.
Peter MacGuire continued his string of strong results and managed an appearance in the Final against the lawn Tennis talent, Spencer Feldman. Feldman was relentless out of the gate and raced off to a 7/0 lead. MacGuire countered with an amazing spell, winning five games in a row before being overcome in the thirteenth game. Feldman’s success was particularly noteworthy after he narrowly overcame four match points in his first round match against Bob Buettner five days earlier.
New York Open Handicap C
Twenty-seven players between the handicaps of 49 and 70 competed in perhaps the most talented “C” draw in the event’s history.
Seven of the eight quarter-finalists were under 35 years old, continuing the trend of the last few years.
Two brand new players from thriving racquet sport backgrounds battled for the final. Hugh McDonald, a former division one lawn tennis player, and Val Quan, a former division one squash player, awed the crowd with inspiring gets and amazing racquet skills. McDonald was fresh off a remarkable semi final win against Rick Griffith, while Quan was freshly off a semi final win against the Boston up-and-comer Andrew Guild. The final couldn’t have been more closely contested ending in an 8/7 Quan victory.
Special thanks to the staff of the Racquet & Tennis Club for an amazing weekend. Congratulations to all the Winners and Finalists!