Blitz Tournament October 10 2014
For the first time in recorded history of the DAC, everybody turned up on time for the start of an event. At 2 minutes to 5pm, we had all competitors ready to go. Racquet in hand, laces tied, beer in the other hand… oh, hang on… dang! We were one player short. The current 2-time reigning Blitz Tournament champion, Sante Fratarcangeli, was running late. And we were so close to making history!
But, as they say in show business, “the show must go on”, so we started without him. The 20 players were split up into 4 groups of 5. A couple of new players in the mix made the handicapping a little tricky. Actually, it made it pure guess work. As it turned out, I was only off by a smidge in the end, which I’ll take as a success even though the affected party(s) wouldn’t. The ultimate goal is to have every match end up with a 15-14 score, proving my handicap correct. We had a handful.
|Julie, Ian, Justin and Jon|
Group 1 had three 15-14 results. The first match of the evening started beautifully with Mike Counsman and JC Tibbitts going at it. JC started off with 10 points and at the business end of the contest had 2 game balls at 14-13. However, he literally handed the win to Mike as he tinned 2 drop shots that had a very good chance of being winners if they were up. Mike’s second match was against new member Becket Marum. Becket’s handicap was also 10, and admittedly it was a complete stab in the dark - I was hoping he would stand up to the task. And he did. Even though he is new, Becket is picking up the game quickly. Scrappy, but a hustler, he pick-pocketed enough points to take the game to a sudden death rally. Mike still pulled it out 15-14, another nervous win.
Jon Dengel scored the other 15-14 victory in the group, this one over Chip McDaniel. Chip had to give up 9 to start the game, and the two players had some very nice exchanges. A couple of nasty unforced errors from Chip ended up being the difference. When the final match of the group went on, Jon had to play Mike. If Mike won, he would sweep the group. Jon needed to win to force a 3-way tie. The 13 point handicap was more than enough for Jon. Three rallies later, he walked off the 15-1 winner.
With 3 players tied with 3 wins each, and only 2 players able to move on to the knock-out phase, straws were drawn to see who advanced. Jon, who dominated Mike on the court, is terrible at pulling straws. He lost out.
Group 2 would also have three 15-14 results. All of them to the same player. And, he won the all as well! Paul Ward did this the hard way, taking Mike Rock (9 point handicap), Bret Williams (8) and Paul Fershee (12) to the brink of the upset only to yank it viciously away. Apparently, Paul (Ward) likes to live on the edge. The other three players would end up with 2 wins apiece, helped out by the withdrawal of Alan Howard who tweaked his hamstring in his first match. It was a merry-go-round of results with Paul (Fershee) beating Bret who beat Mike who beat Paul (F). Again, straws would have to be drawn to see who from the three could advance to the finals round. It must be something in the name, because joining Paul Ward would be Paul Fershee!
|Fashionista Sante Fratarcangeli.|
Group 3. Only one 15-14 score to mention here and that would be between Julie Vande Vusse and Ian Edwards. Julie had 4 points to start, Ian had 4 beers to start, and the pair couldn’t have been better matched. The game could have begun 0-0, there wasn’t any clear dominating player. Julie ended up with the win today, but Ian quickly found solace at the keg. He was also a winner. Sweeping this group was the late comer Sante Fratarcangeli (current 2-time reigning Blitz Tournament champion). Splendid in his all white spandex suit with red shorts, and the splash of bright yellow on his shoes to complete the ensemble, Sante (current 2-time reigning Blitz Tournament champion) had to make up for lost time and powered his way through the group winning all of the games. They were close though, three of them were 15-13, the other 15-12. Sante (current 2-time reigning Blitz Tournament champion) was looking for the 3-peat. The second player from the group to advance would again be decided by Lady Luck. Three players were tied for second with 2 wins each. Mark Monaghan (who in Sante’s (current 2-time reigning Blitz Tournament champion) match had three full body dives and one between the legs miracle shot out of the back right corner), Julie Vande Vusse and Ian Edwards. The better straw-drawer on this occasion would be Mark.
Group 4. Another two 15-14 results came from this group. Bob Rogers gave up 8 points to Steve Murphy which was just enough for Bob to win the sudden death 14-all point, and the second one actually went to Steve who squeaked out the do-or-die rally against Esther Thomas who had a 7 point handicap going in. Bob would end up winning all 4 of his matches, two of them 15-12. And for the 4th time in a row, we would have to draw from the now worn-out straws to find the second finalist. Steve, Justin Winkelman and Mike McCuish all had 2 wins each. Another carousel of victories between the players: Steve beats Justin who beats Mike who beats Steve… Fortune favored the McCuish for this one!
Fortune did not favor the McCuish for the first finals match. His 5 point head start was not enough to overcome the power volley of JC Tibbitts who took him 15-10 and was building his momentum more and more with every game. Would it be up to Sante (current 2-time reigning Blitz Tournament champion) to stop him? Ummm…. No. Sante (current 2-time reigning Blitz Tournament champion) would be not have a chance to make it 3 in a row as the 12 points he gave up to Paul Fershee was just a little too much. Sante (current 2-time reigning Blitz Tournament champion) got close though, but Paul took it 15-13. Jumping on court with JC, Paul’s 8 points was no match. JC was on a roll and wasn’t going to give Paul any gifts, he wasn’t interested in playing more rallies than he had to. It was 15-10 and JC moved on to the final.
|Paul Ward and JC Tibbitts|
On the other half of the finals draw, a battle of acrobats, Bob Rogers bounced off a couple more walls than Mark Monaghan did to take that game 15-12. Bob’s next round was against Paul Ward (who, in his match, ran down too many balls for Mike Counsman, helped also with the 4 point head start). Bob took on Paul with a 6 point lead, both players pleading their case to change the handicap in their favor. I wasn’t budging, and the two went hard. Both renowned for running, it wasn’t smooth sailing for either, but the consistency of Paul would be the telling factor. 15-12.
Two tired players for the final. I handed JC 8 points to start the game, wanting to put a little extra pressure on Paul. But the effort by JC leading up to this point proved to be fatal. He hit the wall. Hard. In fact, I think it knocked him over. In hindsight, I should have given JC 13 points, which would have been ludicrous. All Paul had to do was keep the rally going and he did 15 of 16 times. He took the final 15-9. Paul Ward takes his second Blitz Tournament title – his first way back in March 2009. In the 3rd / 4th play-off, Bob Rogers edged out Paul Fershee 15-13.
It was a great evening. Not sure if the keg ended up dead or not, but a huge effort was made to do so. Thank you to all for such a smooth running event!