Photos by Barney Tanfield
2017 Silver Racquet Invitational Tennis
This year’s Silver Racquet Invitational Tennis included a strong Qualification draw which attracted entrants from clubs across the country, as well as England and France. The first qualification spot was secured by Noah Motz who edged out Peter
Pell in three tight and entertaining sets. Benjamin Jacquin-Turrentini secured the other spot in the main draw by beating Ken Soffer then John Motz without the loss of a set.
The Invitational draw featured the majority of the top-ranked amateurs in the country, with Pat Winthrop and Jon Crowell as the top-seeds. Play began early on Friday morning with Jeremy Wintersteen, Zach Sacks and Tom McGinnis easing through their respective first-round matches. The tightest first-round match saw Jacquin-Turrentini overcoming John Prenn after dropping the first set. The Frenchman continued his strong run in the Quarter Finals later that day, upsetting top-seeded, Pat Winthrop, 6/5 6/4. Earlier that evening, another seed fell when Addison West lost to an impressive McGinnis. Lex Miron and Jon Crowell respectively took the other Semi-Final spots with victories over Zachary Sacks and Jeremy Wintersteen.
Two players who had upset the odds to make the Semis, Tom McGinnis and Benjamin Jacquin-Turrentini, faced off for a spot in the Final. The match was an interesting contrast in styles, with McGinnis dictating the majority of points but unable to consistently penetrate the defense of the Frenchman. There were several swings in momentum, Jacquin-Turrentini edging the first set 6/4, before McGinnis took the second set 6/1. Benjamin led 4/2 in the decider, but Tom was able to close out a couple of key games on his way to a 6/4 final set win.
The second semi-final featured previous Silver Racquet winner Lex Miron, up against Philadephia’s Jon Crowell. Miron had a routine victory over Zach Sacks in the Quarters, whilst Crowell looked in imperious form in his win over Jeremy Wintersteen. Despite Miron’s best efforts to change the pace, angles, and spin of his serve and returns Crowell 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. Crowell came through, booking his place in the Final with a straight-sets victory.
The two finalists were both looking to win the coveted Silver Racquet Singles for the first time. McGinnis wants into the match as a slight outsider, a position he had already overcome in earlier rounds. Crowell had already played two New York Open Handicap matches in the hours before this Final but came out looking fresh and started strongly, taking the first set 6/1. McGinnis edged out a couple of close games at the beginning of the second set, the crowd sensed a shift in momentum with McGinnis visibly growing in confidence. The deciding set was an incredibly high-quality affair with both players at the top of their games. Games were being traded, with neither player able to establish a significant lead. After close to 2 hours of play, it was Crowell who managed to edge out the final games to complete a 6/1 1/6 6/4 victory.
New York Open Handicap “A”
This year the New York Open Handicap “A” division featured an expanded draw. Handicaps ranged from 0 through to 36, with many matches being played off of large, unforgiving handicaps.
The Professional contingent didn’t make too many inroads into the draw, Neil Smith producing the best performance, making the Quarter-Finals before falling to Jon Crowell . Elsewhere, fast-improving R&TC Intern Sam Corbett, made it through to the Semis, closing out a 7-all 40-all match point against Rob Whitehouse on the way.
In the first of Sunday’s Semi-Finals, Jon Crowell played with a discipline and control not matched by his opponent Corbett. Corbett was able to put Crowell under pressure with some aggressive hitting but was undone by the accuracy and graceful retrieving of Crowell, who moved through to the Final.
The other Semi between Haynes and Mathur was played off the slightest of handicaps. Mathur was improving with every match, whilst Haynes seemed to be in Van Alen Cup form from some years before. The two lefties came out bombing down railroads, boasts and forces but Manek’s tenacity emerged in the crucial moments throughout and Haynes couldn’t reproduce his early round dominance.
The Mathur and Crowell Final was fantastic to watch with an ingenuitive Manek badgering his opponent with a nice selection of hyper-cut, exaggerated pace and jagged boasts. Jon held up unbelievably well and himself displayed an elegance in retrieving he isn’t always credited for. Eventually, the exponential growth of Mathur proved too strong for Crowell and the rest of the draw, earning him his first silverware in the patriarch of all racquet sports.
New York Open Handicap “B”
The “B” division saw the tightest banding of handicaps, with the participants separated by no more than twelve points. The close banding produced tight results, with very few lopsided scores in the group.
Standouts included two new R&TC members, Andrew Foote and James Crandell, two Philadelphian’s, Michael Barton and Richard Tanfield and finally Will Fantini, who managed to win the “C” division in 2015.
The Semis saw Barton square off against Fantini in a match that will undoubtedly be replayed many more times in years to come. Fantini was particularly impressive on the day and produced a series of clean strokes and well-constructed points. Fantini cemented his NYOH Final appearance for the second year in three.
On the bottom side of the draw, Crandell showed his limited tennis experience was not limiting against Richard Tanfield. Tanfield didn’t find his rhythm in time and the match was over before his performance peaked.
Fantini and Crandell was a great display from two quick learners, both with deep intercollegiate squash backgrounds. The athleticism displayed made for one of the more unique “B” finals in recent memory. Crandell’s recent investment on court was evident and his ability to mix strong classic strokes with unorthodox agility and decision making made him a champion on the day.
New York Open Handicap “C”
The “C” division is perhaps the most unique event in the country. It has become a notable stepping stone for some of the most rapidly progressing players in the game. Inevitably most of those successfully competing in this draw will go onto further successes elsewhere in the game.
Nearly half of the twenty-nine entrants were new to the event, a wonderful metric of health for the community. All four semifinalists were first-time competitors eager to make their marks. All four were also part of a rapidly growing young New York-based and coached contingent making waves.
Sam Jackson played Will Hubbard in an epic top Semifinal. Both showed exceptional promise and exceptional room for growth. The match finished a narrow triumph for Hubbard. The bottom Semi saw two tough competitors, Foster Jebsen and Alex Puskas, both playing their first Court Tennis events. Jebsen edged his way through in his strikingly stoic style.
Hubbard and Jebsen battled tightly and both displaying unusually developed skills given there short minimal match experience. Jebsen managed consistently excellent length, Hubbard countering with unbelievable volleying in the rallies. An exhilarated crowd rewarded the two for their breathtaking exchanges. Hubbard prevailed 8/5 just in time to hold off a momentum swing from Jebsen.