Surprisingly, we did not increase the registration numbers from last year for this event. Doubles participation has been up overall so I was expecting more teams to enter. The B draw was larger, but the A draw shrunk to just 6 pairs. Overall, we were 2 players fewer. Happily - and unlike last year - every single match was played. No forfeits awarded and we almost had the entire event finished on time! Some nudging and prodding was required, but everyone complied rather well!
B draw: The reigning B champions once again hooked up to do what no one else has yet managed to do: defend the title. Rich Stimson and Drew Creamer are a strong combination - something they clearly proved in 2013. Rich is a relentless hustler and Drew keeps is steady and clean. It was never going to be easy for them with 15 other couples in the draw, and a few of them had also tasted victory in this event.
A team that had not yet managed to reach the podium’s top spot but have been awfully close - twice - was Joe Moran and Ken Katz. (In fact, they were so close in 2011 when they lost 18-17 in the 5th in the final...) This year did not work out for them so well when they lost first round 3-0 to doubles court rookie Justin Winkelman and his more experienced partner Len MacEachern. Justin and Len then almost pulled out a quarter final upset over 2012’s finalists Mike Petix and John Chouinard but ended up going down in 5 games. Mike and John then met their fate in the semi final as they were steam rolled 3-0 by Rich and Drew. The Stimson / Creamer team were one victory away from retaining their title.
My other ‘favorite’ to won this category was Frank Willard and Tom Shumaker. Two very experienced doubles players, a team that would have to rely on all of that knowledge if they were to win. They were not going to win with power or court speed, they were going to win on anticipation and angles. Smarter - not harder. It was, nonetheless, anything but smooth sailing. Winning their first match was predicted, but they did lose a game to Curt Pedersen and another doubles court greenhorn, Al Iafrate. They then almost faltered in the quarter final but they squeaked by the unpredictable Alan Howard / David Devine team 3-2 before following it up with another 3-1 semi final win against 2012 winner Craig Hupp and his (not 2012) partner Paul Flanagan.
The final was almost just as close as the 2011 epic, although with the rule change coming into effect last year, an 18-17 score line is no longer possible - it could have been 15-14... and it almost got there. It is of course what every tournament yearns for - a 5-set nail biting final which is anyone’s for the taking. Frank and Tom did what they do best - move the ball around the court and forced Rich to do what he does best - run. Drew held as steady as he could and the two teams went back and forth for almost an hour. The difference in the end was the couple of unforced errors that came from the Stimson / Creamer team. Bad timing no doubt but we all know the cost of clipping that tin. The 5th game ended 15-12.
For the 5th year running we have new Doubles 100 champions in the B level: Congratulations to Tom Shumaker and Fred Willard!
The smaller A draw did not produce the competitiveness it really should have. The closest match of the event came in the first round with the Stimson / Creamer team - stepping up from the B draw to try their hand in the A – against Scott Langenburg and Manny Tancer. Rich and Drew held their own pretty well, and managed to sneak a game but steadiness and pace was a little too much and they eventually went down 3-1. Nonetheless, it was a good effort.
Manny and Scott then lost 3-0 to the 2011 winners Peter Logan and Patrick Petz. Peter and Patrick have failed to repeat as champions as they have lost the final in the past 2 years. They were looking at changing that trend this time around. They would, however, have to overcome their Doubles 100 nemeses John Dunwoody and Eric Green to do so.
|John Dunwoody, Patrick Petz, Peter Logan, Eric Green|
John and Eric also reached the final with a 3-0 win the semi over Mike Skaff and Shail Arora. The final was potentially a great looking match – last year John and Eric beat Petz / Logan in 4 games, 2 of those games going deep into the tie-break. Unfortunately, the 2014 version wouldn’t live up anywhere close to the expectations.
The early morning match was a perfect time for Eric – he thrives better before the sun has even thought about coming up. There wasn’t much Peter and Patrick could do as Dunwoody / Green controlled the game from rally one, not really giving them a sniff. They never lost momentum. It was a quick 3-0, none of the games closer than 15-10.