by Ryan Carey
The Cherry Blossom Doubles ’17 was held at Prince’s Court from April 6th-9th. This year’s theme was a “game show” theme inspired by the cherry blossom-esque flowers that decorate the set of The Price Is Right. I called upon local guide Matty Ronaldson and went to LA for a taping of The Price Is Right to do some field research a few weeks prior. We didn’t get chosen to “come on down” but the episode we attended aired on April 6th (click here to watch the episode) and that officially kicked off this year’s Cherry Blossom.
We tried to incorporate a few game show elements into the matches. For instance, instead of spinning a racquet for serve, players competed in a “survey says” style question complete with working buzzers! Players were also allowed to “Change That Chase” once per match by picking one of three cards that corresponded to a different chase. Ivan Ronaldson and Chris Aley were the official hosts of our faux game show “Game Set Match ‘17”.
Social events included a game night on Friday where teams squared off against one another in Family Feud and Wheel of Fortune. Saturday saw the “It’s 1700 hours somewhere” cocktail party complete with Parrot Tiki Mugs, a Jimmy “Buffet” featuring tasty dishes by Chef Chris Payton, Chef Vu Hoang and Chef Melanie Clark and our own parrot mascot for players to take photos with. Later that evening we held a Cherry Blossom Gong Show, as the gong is a featured characteristic at Prince’s Court and to also honor the passing of Gong Show host and creator, Chuck Barris. The crowd was dazzled by the array of talent our players possessed. Noah Motz played piano on bananas, Greg Kubasik’s son channeled his inner Bruce Lee and put everyone on notice with his martial arts skills, Vu Hoang and Arthur Whitcomb mesmerized the crowd with a juggling routine and even the Parrot mascot got into the act and started to breakdance in costume! This was all judged by our expert panel of Temple Grassi, club president Vern Cassin, and global talent Peter Bender. Following the Gong Show we had a Jeopardy! Show on court featuring all 17/Game Show themed answers. It was then revealed that it was World Champion Camden Riviere inside the Parrot costume the whole time, and fun fact, 46917 (the dates of this year’s Cherry Blossom) is also the zip code of Camden, IN! So, other than it was hilarious, that was the reason we had “Camden IN” the parrot suit. Two contestants were chosen from the studio audience, Manny Tancer and Helen Grassi, to try to defeat the World Champion in Jeopardy! The game was played under protest that the answers were too difficult and time was short, so no winner was declared.
Sunday morning featured a wonderful brunch catered by Tim Johnson and Cecilia Forbes with Mick Domagala expertly overseeing the Bloody Marys. Instead of the usual game show “Putt for Dough”, Sunday morning featured a “Putt For Do” where contestants used a handmade hickory shaft “Yardsmore” putter and tried to putt a tennis ball the closest to Michael Do, who was standing near the trough, without “going over”. Art Horowitz came with inches of Michael and won the putter. A silent auction was also held of custom one-off game show decorated Gold Leaf racquets and one “Press Your Luck” racquet press decorated with the Whammy holding a tennis racquet. A big thank you to Sean Quinn at Gold Leaf Athletics for making this happen. After that came the serious business of the finals! All finals were closely contested and saw the rise of the Juniors (Noah Motz, Katya Johnson and Keawe Johnson) and the Ambassador Temple Grassi in Cherry Blossom winner’s circle.
Thank you to Michael Do for being my Cherry Blossom partner for yet another year. Thank you to Michael, Hakan Lonaeus and Arthur Whitcomb for the photos. Thank you to all of the out-of-town players who traveled to be a part of this year’s tournament, it is sincerely appreciated and makes all the difference.
Green Division – John Motz & Noah Motz def. Ryan Carey & John Patton III 6-3, 6-1
Blue Division – Helen Grassi & Ryan Carey def. Chris Aley & Mark Philpott 9-6
Red Division – Joey Katona & Chris Payton def. Sewall Hodges & Tim Friend 9-7
Purple Division – Temple Grassi & Helen Grassi def. Randall Roe & Connor Reilly 9-5
Orange Division – Katya Johnson & Keawe Johnson def. Daniel Hsu & Mick Domagala 9-4
Yellow Division – Melanie Clark & Greg Kubasik def. Hakan Lonaeus & Tamae Heilen 9-6