Nothing like the excitement of having all the marbles dependant on the final couple of games. Pressure - fairly or unfairly placed on the poor couple of members that happen to be the last match on, everything riding on their performance. But this is a full team effort. Teams lose together, they win together. Blame and glory should be equally shared…
“Butter Nutz” v “Wardogs”: This match-up was truly decided on the courts. Both team picked up the same amount of bonus points – 9 – and all 13 matches were played. “Butter Nutz” had beaten the “Wardogs” by 2 points during the season where 11 of 13 matches were completed so it promised to be another close encounter. Only 2 of those results repeated themselves: Paul Ward’s (“Wardogs”) 2-1 win over Andy Adamo (“Butter Nutz”) and Mike Petix’ (“Butter Nutz”) 2-1 win over Paul Van Tol (“Wardogs”).
There were 5 results that actually reversed themselves. Meaning, those that had lost during the season turned their fortunes around for the semi finals. Josh Slominski (“Butter Nutz”) came up big for his team reversing a 3-0 loss at the hands of Dave Morrison (“Wardogs”) for a 2-1 victory this time, as did Andy Combs for his team “Wardogs” taking a 2-1 win from Kevin Prather (“Butter Nutz”) after being handed the bagel the first time they met. Bruce Shaw (“Wardogs”) took care of business with a 3-0 victory over Andrew Tignanelli (“Butter Nutz”) who beat Bruce 2-1 during the season, and Brittany Paquette (“Butter Nutz”) put in a solid performance for her 3-0 win against Ted Mabley (“Wardogs”) whom she lost to 2-1 in round 4.
For most of the match-up, “Butter Nutz” kept their noses just inches in front. “Wardogs” were a continuous threat and if a couple of the games fell their way could have knocked off the second seed. But it was not to be. Once the 13th match had finished, “Butter Nutz” had taken a hard earned victory 30 to 27. They did, after all, win 7 of the 13 matches.
“Winky-Dinks” v “Vivio’s”: On the court, “Vivio’s” proved to be the stronger opponent of the two. They won 7 of the 12 matches. And four of those matches were 3-0. However, they picked up 3 less bonus points – which are a big difference for one night since it basically negates one of those 3-0 wins. “Winky-Dinks” beat “Vivio’s” by 4 points back in round 8 where 10 of 13 matches were played but they won only 4 of those - once again bonus points making up the difference. We had 11 matches completed this time – could those 3 bonus points be the deciding factor here too? With “Vivio’s” winning 3-0 thanks to Bill Rivard, Brian Schrage and Brian Bartes, and the third Brian on the team - Brien Baker – taking Manny Tancer 2-1, the team looked to be home and hosed. But strong victories on the “Winky-Dinks” led by captain Justin Winkelman, who beat Joe Schaden 2-1, evened up the scores. Niko Ahee, Kevin Kennedy, Greg Baker and Tom Healy all hailed solid wins by the time the final match was underway. The winner of the last match – Rich Stimson (“Vivio’s”) v Al Iafrate (“Winky-Dinks”) would determine which team moves onto next week. Did I mention pressure? The weight of the team on your shoulders? I won’t drag this out – Rich won 3-0. But to be fair – and Rich admitted as much - Al was carrying an injury and was off his game. Excuses? No. We have all been in Al’s position, though. It’s a painful loss, but it’s a team loss. There is no shame. Al will bounce back. As will the “Winky-Dinks”. Justin will make sure of that.
So the final is set: “Butter Nutz” versus reigning champs “Vivio’s”. Predictions anyone? These two teams played in round 9, where not many matches were done so the “Butter Nutz” win that week doesn’t carry much influence. My forecast is for another done to the wire result… at least that’s what I’m hoping for.