Talk about waving the flag. In the absence of our shameless fashion guru Karl Lagerfeld - a.k.a. Sante Fratarcangeli - John Mann stepped up to the plate and supplied the patriotic robes to many of our players. At least the shirt this time had some sleeves, but the golden nugget of apparel had to be the knee-high socks adorned with the American flag. The cape was also a magic extra, but pretty much impossible to play in. Made for a great photo-op though.
Inspired by the prolific amount of red, white and blue, the 17th Cross Border Challenge produced a wealth of closely contested matches and our DAC members were well up to the task. Tom Fabbri got the ball rolling for us, his sock flags waving in the wind as he controlled the middle of the court with solid length. He was consistent enough to hold off the charge from Trevor Charles for a 3-1 win, which included a 3-10 comeback in game 2.
Jon Dengel had a chance at revenge. A year ago he lost to Grace Kim in four games during the Cross Border Challenge, and he was determined not to lose to the same woman twice. But, as Jon pointed out after the match, it’s rather difficult to tire out a player who is clearly in better physical condition than himself (?!?). Testosterone, however, can be a powerful motivator and Jon almost pulled it off. Going down 10-12 in the 5th was a gallant effort. Kim was made to work hard for her win, she was seen later on rehydrating hard, a wine in one hand, and something mixed in the other which wasn’t a Gatorade…
After Julie Vande Vusse made the fashionably late entrance, she took care of business against Michaela Birley 3-1, which was then off set by Ian Edwards’ 1-3 loss to James Konrad. At this stage, the two countries had 2 wins apiece, but then we started to pull away.
The igniter was the first doubles result - Bruce Shaw and Ken Katz tackled Peter Wares and Derek Roth for the best doubles match of the day. Back and forth they went, trading games with scores lines of 15-14 and 15-13 all the way through a nail-biting 5th. Our home boys kept it together and absorbed the pressure well, breathing a huge sigh of relief taking that last game 15-13. They couldn’t get to the keg fast enough.
Josh Gershonowicz then produced another down-to-the-wire victory. He had to hustle continuously against the experience of Dave Hornby, a doubles specialist that loves to use weird angles on the singles court. It can be troublesome to find any rhythm against such players, so Josh did well to claim the 11-9 in the 5th and put another notch in the DAC’s win column.
A lot of interest was on our new member Vikram Chopra. It was a good chance to see him under pressure as he tackled the flamboyant Dan Van Moorsel. Dan is a big guy, but covers the court well and can also put the ball away. Vikram has a wristy swing that produces a lot of power and can be relatively deceptive, making his opponents stretch out into the corners. A little consistency cost Vikram game one, as too much over hitting set Dan up a bit too easily. But Vikram improved that tightness in the next three games to take the 3-1 win.
Special mention must be made to Alan Howard who we can excuse for being late to his match. He was on a good-will mission. To make sure that all the Windsor players were indeed able to leave their club safely and get to the DAC, Alan decided to drive to the Windsor Club first, confirm there weren’t any stragglers, and then return. A true gentleman. I doubt Andrew Della Bona thinks so though, Alan’s good-will only went so far as he took all 3 games.
Andy Adamo will be kicking himself slightly as this one got away. He was looking rather good heading into the 3rd game against Doug Fields as he held a 2-0 game lead. Doug is a feisty adversary, and would always be thinking he had 3 games to go, Andy appeared to take the foot off the gas ever so slightly. And that is all it takes. Doug took the next 2 games and the fifth was a battle - Andy stepped it up again as he had to in order to stop Doug’s momentum. It could have gone either way - but it was Doug who got to the finish line first with a 12-10 in the 5th win.
Another 5th set tie break result fell to the Windsorites. Derek Roth made amends for the doubles loss earlier by somehow staying on his feet long enough to beat John Mann 13-11 in the last game. That result almost turned it around for the Canadians - with three results to come in, we still needed one more win to secure the trophy.
But this is what these competitions are about. I would not have been upset in the slightest if we didn’t win the day. The closeness of the matches and the camaraderie is why we run these things. That being said, we still wanted the victory! And finally securing that win was the third doubles match of the day - Patrick Petz and Dane Fossee survived to take their match in 5!
The final two matches had Derek Aguirre battling the hard hitting Paul Gebrael. Paul loves his power - and he has plenty of it - and it can be awkward to counter such a tactic. I instructed Derek to slow the pace and not try to smack the ball with him. The strategy worked for one game, but consistently controlling the ball when it’s coming at you with an uncomfortably quick pace is something we all know is easier said than done. Paul took the match 3-1.
The final match of the day was also a 5-setter. Dave Porter got off to an excellent start and won the first 2 games over Dane Fossee who had jumped immediately from the doubles court to the singles. Maybe Dane couldn’t find his ‘singles’ touch initially, but as the match wore on, Dane was looking stronger as Dave was beginning to fade. Dane made the comeback complete, taking the 5th game and ending the day well for the DAC.