by Mary Livingston
This past weekend the Racquet Club of Philadelphia hosted the 2018 Ladies Invitational, a level singles tournament for U.S. based players. Seventeen women entered from Boston, D.C., Newport, Tuxedo, and of course, the host club, and there were a number of hard-fought matches across both A and B draws.
The outstanding match of the tournament was the A semi-final between Newport’s Brenda Sabbag and Philly’s Melissa Purcell. The two veteran players kept nearly every game close over three sets with hard, well-placed, shot after shot. Melissa took the first set 6-5 before Brenda came back to take the second 6-3. After starting at 3-3 in the third, they went to deuce at 5-5 with Melissa first getting the advantage. With the format, second deuce became game ball, and Brenda got the next point to take it to the dreaded third set, 5-5, 40-40, game ball. Receiving, Brenda made a chase better than two to get the serve back. Melissa’s spectacular return of serve was on track to comfortably beat the chase but Brenda dug out a must-hit backhand from the corner sending it cross court toward the tambour and Melissa couldn’t get enough on her shot to make it over the net. Match to Brenda, 5-6, 6-3, 6-5. In the other A semi, Xanthe Ranger of Tuxedo beat Ashley Thomas Lenihan, back in Philadelphia after ten years in London, 6-2, 6-0. Xanthe went on to defeat Brenda 6-3, 6-1 in Sunday’s final. Your plucky correspondent was not quite plucky enough in her B final, losing to Philly’s Liz Browning 6-0, 6-2.
It was a wonderful weekend of enthusiastic tennis with old friends and new players alike. Many thanks to John Lumley and Robbie Whitehouse, as well as to the support of the Player Development Program. And special thanks to our junior cheering sections (some of whom have not quite learned to control their court side chatter yet): Georges de Casteja, Mary & Sophie Purcell, and Jeremy R. Wintersteen, Jr.