By Mit Carothers, Tennis Chair
Ten teams entered the 2017 Northrop Knox Tournament at the Aiken Tennis Club. Play began on Thursday April 13 with the finals on Easter Sunday April 16th. The entrants included the defending champions, previous winners and a mix of local and out of town players anxious to hoist the trophy. In addition to the doubles tournament, this year’s version also contained a singles competition.
Three brackets began play Thursday evening to determine Sunday mornings semifinalists with the 4th semifinalist chosen from the rest of the field. In Bracket A, the defending champions, Rakesh Jasani/Jason Mengel went through by defeating the teams of Bob Cook/Brian Owens and Morgan Purvis/Sawyer Duncan. Bracket B saw both the teams of Michael Sullivan/Silas Anthony and Geoff Ellis/Anders Cohen advance at the expense of the team of Brian Halterman/Dan Villiers. And in Bracket C, the teams of Ryan Carey/Gary Swantner, Charles Bostwick/Greg Van Schaack, Tiger Riviere/Bauer Vaughters and Jason Rabun/Vaughn Massie battled to the end before former champions Ryan Carey/Gary Swantner became the 4th semifinalist. It should be noted that the team of Jason Rabun/Vaughn Massie assumed a 35 handicap and played well below theirs in missing out on being the 4th semifinalist by the narrowest of margins.
The first semifinal saw the defending champions Jasani/Mengel take on last year’s finalist Michael Sullivan and his partner Silas Anthony. Sullivan/Anthony took the first set to see Jasani/Mengel come back to take the second. This set up a third full set that saw Jasani/Mengel down 40-love at 4 all and again at 4 games to 5 before finding a way to complete the win 6-5 in the third.
The second semifinal was another 3 set thriller. Geoff Ellis and Anders Cohen began match taking the first set. Their communication and court coverage, pace and momentum enabled them to claim a 6-3 lead. Down 3-4 in the second set, Carey/Swantner continued to “hang in there” before a force to the dedan got them level in the set before closing out the match in the third.
The final would then match the 2013 winners Ryan Carey/Gary Swantner versus the 3 time defending champions Rakesh Jasani/Jason Mengel. In this year’s version the pace and perseverance in Carey/Swantner saw them through to their second title.
The singles competition actually opened the tournament on Thursday afternoon with Geoff Ellis winning 6-5 in the third set against a very impressive and game Brian Owens. Gary Swantner won a very close match at 6-5 in the third set versus Bob Cook as did Greg Van Schaack against Jason Rabun. The singles final brought the tournament to a close with Geoff Ellis, in his second match of the day, the winner in an entertaining and exciting match versus Jason Mengel, in his third match of the day, 6-5, 6-4.
The tournament was quite capably run by former world champion Wayne Davies and assisted by Aiken Tennis Club professional Trey Bogue. Hats off particularly to club member Robert Glance for the outstanding food and a social committee providing Oyster Night on Thursday, Tennis and Cocktails on Friday, the Knox Dinner on Saturday and Sunday Brunch. Linda Knox and her son Art were on hand for the trophy presentation and their efforts and support of the tournament named for her father, himself a world champion, are appreciated.