2016 Payne Whitney Memorial Intercity Doubles

They said it couldn’t be done. They said even if Greentree-Aiken brought back Morris Clothier and fielded a U.S. Amateur Doubles Champion in all five pairs and New York lost Spike Willcocks to injury and Will Thompson to procreation, New York could not be beaten. Well… they were right.

The Racquet & Tennis Club hosted the 83rd Payne Whitney Memorial Intercity Doubles December 9-11, 2016.  The Whitney Cup remains one of the most beloved events of the Court Tennis season, bringing together the very best amateur doubles players from each club across the U.S. The event was extremely well supported by a vocal crowd throughout the weekend.

Six teams (Greentree-Aiken, New England, New York, Philadelphia, Tuxedo-Chicago and Washington) of five doubles teams each compete for the coveted title. There were several new players this year, notably including Will Hopton playing in the #1 spot for Washington, as well as the return of Morris Clothier (Greentree-Aiken), and Bob White (New York) after extended hiatuses from the game.

Matches began on Friday morning, in Group 1 Washington faced off against New England.  Washington moved out to a 2-0 lead in the best-of-5 tie, with new pairings Will Hopton & Bradley Allen, and Danny McBride & rookie Drew Courtney edging out their matches.  New England’s heretofore undefeated duo of Garrett Gates & Alex Spence were able to keep the tie alive with a convincing win in the third match of the day. The remaining two matches both went to the wire, but it was New England who took both matches to seal the tie 3 matches to 2.

New York entered the tournament as the favorites again having won the last two Cups and four of the last five.  Despite losing Spike Willcocks’ mid tournament withdrawal due to an aggravated wrist injury, New York was able to cruise to their 7th straight final with comfortable 4-1 wins against Washington and New England.

In Group 2 Philadelphia defeated Tuxedo-Chicago 5-0, the score-line not reflecting the competitive nature of the tie.  Notably, the all-Chicago team of Marty Kinsella and Peter Dunne pushed Peter Hill and Andrew Purcell to three sets.

Tuxedo-Chicago’s Guy Devereux and Joe Capella upset Greentree-Aiken’s top team of Addison West and Jason Mengel.  However Greentree-Aiken fought back to win the remaining matches and take the series 4-1.  Greentree-Aiken was able to book their place in the final with a 4-1 win against Philadelphia. The new partnership of Ben Stein and Morris Clothier looked particularly impressive winning both their matches while loosing just two games. The match of the day however, was a late night Seniors battle between Norris Jordan (Seniors rookie) & Ted Manges and Simon Aldrich & Bob Hay. Despite the tie having already been decided in Greentree-Aiken’s favor, both teams were determined to take victory.  In the end, it was the Philadelphian pair who prevailed 6-5, 5-6, 6-5.

For the fifth year in a row, the Sunday featured a showdown between New York and Greentree-Aiken. The first match of the day saw Simon Aldrich & Bob Hay of Greentree-Aiken showing no ill effects from the previous evening’s battle, winning the Senior matchup in straight sets over New York’s Lincoln Frank and Bruce Manson. Greentree-Aiken then established a 2-0 lead thanks to Peter Pell & Brook Hazelton’s win over Zack Sacks & Bob White in the #4 match.

Next up, in the number one match, Nicolas Victoir (playing for the injured Spike Willcocks) and Jonathan Larken edged out Addison West and Jason Mengel in a tight three set contest.  Victoir was then joined by Tom McGinnis for his second match of the day, this time vs Ben Cook and Rakesh Jasani at #2.  The Aiken pairing took the first set, and was a game away from clinching the title for Greentree-Aiken at 5-all in the second set.  But it was not to be as Victoir and McGinnis found their form and captured 7 of the final 8 games and the match (3-6, 6-5, 6-1)

For the first time in recent memory the event came down to the final match.  New York’s indomitable captain Lex Miron partnering with Peter Cipriano at #3 taking on Greentree-Aiken’s Morris Clothier and Ben Stein for the title. Miron & Cipriano took the first set comfortably, but found themselves 0-5 down in the second.  Stein & Clothier were both attacking on the volley and looked to have temporarily swung the match in their favor.  But Miron and Cipriano dug in, slowed the pace down and played close to flawless tennis to capture 10 of the next 12 games and the match (6-3, 4-6, 6-1).

Congratulations to the New York team on their, 3rd victory in a row, 5th out of the last 6 and 25th team victory overall.

Thanks go to Tournament Chairman Peter Pell and the staff of the Racquet & Tennis Club.

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