by Nick Howell

The Newport Handicap Doubles is the second of three big tournaments The National Tennis Club @ITHF hold in the summer and for the second year in a row it was sold out. We had sixty-four players or thirty-two teams. Twenty players travelled from out of town including two players from the UK.

The tournament kicked off with one match on Wednesday night followed by a full day play on Thursday 9am to 9pm. We had four divisions A, B, C, D with two round robin groups in each division. All players got three group matches with the top two teams in each round robin group going through to the semifinals to play the top 2 from the other groups in their divisions.

The matches were forty-five minutes or the first to ten games, whichever came first. The handicaps were fairly accurate this year as we had a lot of close matches with the match tied at the buzzer. This led to more excitement as an extra point was played to decide the winner. Play on Friday started at 8am and finished at 7pm. A cocktail party followed the last match where the participants and their guests enjoyed a raw bar and open bar over at Canfield House – a stone’s throw away from the club.

The last of the group matches continued at 8am Saturday morning. There were brilliant matches in all divisions but especially in the A division where T&R Professional Leon Smart and tournament host Kip Curren went down narrowly to the Van Buskirk brothers 8-9. Also, in The A division Pat Winthrop and Jonathan Pardee snuck out a 6-5 win in the last seconds over Sergio Lopez and Ryan Carey. The last match of the day finished at 7.45pm and everyone headed to New York Yacht Club for cocktails and dinner. There was live music during the cocktails and dinner, followed by the after-dinner speeches. The night was topped off by a comedian who had some hilarious interaction with the guests.

Semifinals and finals day started at 8am and there were a few more one-sided matches than there were in the group stages, whether that was from players enjoying themselves a little too much the night before or just teams out playing their opponent, who is to say. There was one incredibly tight match however, in the A Division Pete Dickinson and Vu Hoang lost to Tom and Eliot Van Buskirk. There were some outstanding rallies in this match and it was great to see young Pete playing so well. Unfortunately for him and Vu they were 40-30 down 7-7 with ten seconds left serving with opponents needing to beat chase better than one and Pete double faulted. It was crushing for them but hats off to Pete who was very sporting after the loss which is not easy to be when you lose a match like that.

Notable mentions to Pat Winthrop who was brilliant in the semifinal and final. He put on a clinic on how to play handicap tennis.  Owen Saunders and Oliver Buckley who came over from The Royal Tennis Court at Hampton Court Palace and were very dominant in winning the B Division final. Mary Jean Keany who has only been playing court tennis for a month, played in her first ever tournament and won her group.

The final results…

  • D Division Final Daniel Hsu and Danny Ladd beat Shirley Freitag and Ceelie Beacham 10-8
  • C Division Final Phil Rimmler and Andrew Oliveira beat John Iole and Arthur Horowitz 10-4
  • B Division Final Oliver Buckley and Owen Saunders (UK) beat Ken Forton and PJ Jean 10-3
  • A Division Final Pat Winthrop and Johnathan Pardee beat Tom Van Buskirk and Eliot Van Buskirk 10-3

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