The fourth annual Spring Invitational and Pro-Am was hosted by the Racquet and Tennis Club May 3rd to 6th. Sixteen players competed in the Main Draw, of which eight were professionals and eight were amateurs. Shep Skiff and Matt Mackin won the two Qualifier spots that took place Wednesday and Thursday, and included Manek Mathur, Eric Bedel, Phil Stockton and Dylan Patterson, all representing New York.
Top professionals included Rob Whitehouse (Philadelphia), James Asher (Philadelphia), Barney Tanfield (New York), Adrian Kemp (New York), Tony Hollins (Boston), Leon Smart (Boston), Josh Dodgson (Tuxedo) and Neil Smith (New York). The other six amateurs in the Main Draw were Jon Crowell and Henry Smith from Philadelphia, and Tom McGinnis, Will Thompson, Ben Stein and Zach Sacks all representing New York. The event was generously supported by over eighty Racquet and Tennis Club members. The Pro-Am draw consisted of ten teams and was won by Ian Highet and Neil Smith in a closely contested final (10-7) over Temple Grassi and Manek Mathur.
The Spring Invitational Main Draw started on Thursday evening with a U.S. Court Tennis Preservation Foundation co-sponsored cocktail party in the Pell Room and two Round of 16 matches, Jon Crowell advanced over Zach Sacks (6-1, 6-0) and Ben Stein advanced over Neil Smith (6-4, 6-4). Friday morning play started at 10:00am with number 1 seed Barney Tanfield advancing over Henry Smith, the Ed Noll Fellowship recipient from Philadelphia. Tony Hollins advanced over Shep Skiff (6-1, 6-3) and Josh Dodgson advanced over James Asher (6-0, 6-1). In the afternoon matches, number 4 seed Adrian Kemp advanced over Matt Mackin (6-2, 6-1), Tom McGinnis advanced over Rob Whitehouse (6-3, 6-1) and number 2 seed Leon Smart advanced over Will Thompson (6-1, 6-1).
Saturday Quarterfinal action started at 10:00am with Tanfield overcoming the giraffe serving Hollins in a tight 2 set match (6-4, 6-5). Number 6 seed Jon Crowell put on a strong performance and pushed number 3 seed Josh Dodgson but lost in 3 sets. Adrian Kemp won against Tom McGinnis in 2 sets and Leon Smart advanced in 2 sets over Ben Stein. The Semifinalists were consistent with seedings in the event despite some strong performances from the field.
Semifinals started at 3:40pm on Saturday with the 2017 Champion Barney Tanfield taking the first set 6-3 against Josh Dodgson. The second set was quick and went to Dodgson 6-1. A few spectacular shots and a handful of forces in the third set proved to be the difference and Tanfield secured his spot in the Finals (6-3,1-6, 6-5). Adrian Kemp displayed tremendous athletic ability against Leon Smart in the second Semifinal. The 2017 Finalist, Kemp won the first set 6-4 but Smart’s exceptional retrieving ability and accurate serving prevailed in the next two sets, propelling him into the Final.
Sunday’s Final between Tanfield and Smart was a seesaw affair from the get go. Smart in his first Spring Invitational Final was hoping to unseat the reigning Champion. A lively crowd was treated to two hours of exciting Tennis. Tanfield triumphed in the a tight first set 6-4. Smart countered with a convincing second set, easily reversing the momentum 6-1. Throughout the weekend, the players employed an arsenal of high serves like only the New York high-ceilinged courts could withstand. Tanfield regrouped and served his giraffe effectively stunting Smarts second set momentum. Barney successfully defended his title by winning the third set 6-0.
The players expressed their gratitude for the generous patronage of the Racquet and Tennis Club membership, Pro-Am participants, and Title Sponsors, Bardyl Tirana and the USCTA. Special thanks also goes out to the Spring Invitational Committee (Charlie Johnstone and Ted Goneos) and the R&TC employees for putting on a great event. Without this patronage and support, the event would not be possible.