Thursday, December 16, 2010


Offer it and they will come… Once again the allure of free beer is not unlike those insects that are attracted into the dazzling light….ZAP!! Except of course we don’t electrocute our members. With 32 registrations the Beer Challenge went through hitch free and just like last year, the “Celebrity Keg Match” kept the audience engrossed until the final point. We’ll get to that match later.

Even though there wasn’t any significance to any of the other matches (other than having it entered into the on-line ranking), all the members played hard. Pride can be just a big a motivator as anything else and I am sure most of them want to feel like they at least ‘deserve’ the beers they guzzle afterwards! I am of course not including those members that also guzzled before they stepped on court. Each player was placed on one of two teams where just like individual results, which team won was irrelevant.

The closest match of the evening was Paul Flanagan and David Pontes. Paul took a 2-0 lead before David came back hard. So hard in fact, he clobbered Paul in the third game with his racquet which rattled him enough to give up the final 3 games. I guess if you can’t win by outplaying them, may as well take them out! (It was an accident.) Paul was left without serious harm or lingering affects as far as I could tell, but it could have been that the beer had numbed the pain by that stage.

In other exciting action, [pictured right] Ken MacDonald took down Mike Petix 3-1 and these two had some rallies which threw the crowd into a tizzy. At one stage, Mike was in complete control of a point, had hit the ball deep behind Ken who reacted by turning 180 degrees blind, swinging his racquet around in a ‘Hail Mary’ fashion, connected, which sent a stunned (if not horrified) Mike racing off to fetch it… and eventually losing the rally. Ken will be talking to his grandkids about that one. Mike, I suspect, will not.

[Picture: Pat Petz before the big bout]
Which (sort of) brings us to the match of the evening, our guest celebrities, Pat Petz versus Rich Stimson. These two very good friends have been known on occasion to have slight disagreements on court when it comes to ‘let’ calls. (Which is of course the reason I asked them to play this “win-or-pay-up” match!) The loser would have to pay for the keg everyone was enjoying. With so much on the line, action was guaranteed.

The first game went Rich’s way. Pat didn’t look as warmed up or as sharp as he needed to be, nor could he find the length required to keep Rich from out of the front corners. Too many drops and with a few unforced errors thrown in, Rich took the game 9-4. The second game had the same score line and the same winner. However, even though Pat didn’t score more points, he looked more competitive in the rallies. Nonetheless, a 2-0 game deficit would be tough to come back from…

… Then, without warning, the secret weapon was unveiled…! Flashes of gold reflected through the court area as Pat unwrapped his Black Knight Ion Storm racquet amid the “ooohs!” and “aaahs” of the mesmerized on-lookers. Surely, this would save the day!

The third game started.

Exactly the same as the last two finished.

With Rich winning.

The weapon wasn’t working! But wait… at 5-8 match-ball down things suddenly started to change. The magical powers of the Ion Storm had begun to penetrate Rich. He was becoming shaky, flat-footed, tin-happy. A miraculous come-from-the-dead recovery had Pat taking the game 10-8. And it continued into the fourth. Quickly Pat established a 4-0 lead. But the power was waning. Rich was getting a second wind. He caught up and the two went point for point to 8-all. In a desperation move, Pat called set-one. Do-or-die. Could this be another Hollywood ending? Errr, no. He died. Rich took the final rally on a well placed drop shot and saved himself the cost of the keg. [Picture: Post match hand shake... pucker-up gentleman!]

On a completely immaterial side-note, Rich’s win also helped his team to an 8-7 victory. All joking aside, the match was played in excellent spirits, both players exuding tremendous sportsmanship. Special thanks to Ryan Bendzinski who I dumped the unenviable task of refereeing the match on! And also to all who took part to make the evening a lot of fun – I hope you appreciated Pat’s generosity!

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