Note: Photo recovery process underway. Sorry for inconvenience!
The 2012 USPTA National Clay Court Championships made its transition from one splendid venue, Ibis Country Club in West Palm Beach, to another, BallenIsles in Palm Beach Gardens. As with most transitions, there were some challenges, but fortunately Trish Faulkner, Frank Swope, Diane Wilkinson and the rest of BallenIsles' staff met the challenge about as well as one could expect. I suspect Trish might want to officially solicit Mike Baldwin's assistance for next year. Nice work team!
|Diane Wilkinson, Trish Faulkner, Mike Baldwin|
When all was said and done, it was a great event for some (your's truly included) and not quite as terrific for some others (Sorry about the elbow Greg). As with all competition, some competitors leave happier than others. Bottom line for me was that I had the opportunity to compete and interact with folks I see only a few times per year. See below for my overall recap, and click here for my take on the Men's 50 Singles.
Men’s Open Singles
Men’s Open Singles
|Open Champ Paolo Barros|
Brink took the second set 7-5, and the third 6-1, then earned a semifinal date with third-seeded Paolo Barros, a perennial semifinalist and finalist in USPTA Men’s Opens, by downing Jeff Zenisek, 6-0, 6-1. Paolo had minimal trouble reaching the semis, losing just five games in two matches.
Women’s Open Singles
|Women's Open Champ Marina McCollom &|
Finalist Marine Spiegel
Her opponent in the Final, Marine Spiegel, made it there with a gut-check win over Ioana Paun in the semis. Paun edged Spiegel 7-4 in a first set tiebreak, but Spiegel rebounded to take the next two sets 6-3, 6-4.
In the Final, Spiegel fought gamely, but McCollom played much like Men’s Open Champ, Paolo Barros, taking everything Spiegel threw at her and responding with just a little more than Spiegel could handle. From what I saw, the 6-3, 6-2 score was not at all indicative of the tussle that McCollom withstood to defend her title.
Men’s 35 Singles
|Men's 35 Champ Kam Kuchta|
|Men's 35 Finalist Andy Lake|
Along with Open Winner Barros, Kuchta and Lake played perhaps the highest quality tennis I witnessed over the weekend. Although involved in the 50 Dubs Final across the aisle, I couldn’t help watching what was transpiring on their court. In the end, Kuchta prevailed 6-4 in the third, and earned a second consecutive USPTA National Championship (he won the Men's 40 Singles in 2011) the hard way.
Men’s 45 Singles
|Men's 45 Champ Horacio Rearte|
|Men's 45 Finalist Frank Vermeer|
Women’s 45 Singles
|Women's 45 Champ Julie Farina|
|Robin Keener & Julie Farina|
Men’s 55 Singles
|Men's 55 Champ Craig Wittus|
No.1 Seed Craig Wittus was dominant in his claiming of the Men’s 55 Singles. Wittus lost just four games in three matches, with all four coming in the Final against No.2 Seed Frank Swope. In the semis, Frank had posted a tough 7-6 (10-8), 6-4 win over Bill Frost in the semis, but Wittus proved too strong, taking the Final 6-2, 6-2.
|Men's 55 Finalist Frank Swope chats|
with members before match
Men’s 60 Singles
|Men's 60 Champ Gewan Maharaj|
|Men's 60 Finalist Joe Bouquin|
Men’s 65 Singles
The story was pretty much the same in the 65s, with the finalists cruising through semifinal matches and facing a stiff test in the Final. Coming into the Final, No.1 Seed Jimmy Parker had lost one game in the semis, and Geoffrey Moore had lost none. The match-up between these very fit and crafty veterans proved to be a good one, with Moore taking the Final 6-3, 7-6 (7-5).
Women’s Open Doubles
There was one match in the Women’s Open Draw, and it was all that anyone could ask for! Once again, McCollom and Spiegel squared off, of course this time with partners. McCollom partnered with Julie Farina and Spiegel with Ioana Paun.
After the first set, it appeared as though Spiegel would get revenge for her singles loss against McCollom, as she and Paun took the set 6-4. But Spiegel and Paun were facing champions, and McCollom and Farina rallied to take the second set in a tiebreak (7-5). The third-set super-tiebreak also went McCollom and Farina’s way, giving each her second title of the Championships.
Men’s Open Doubles
|Open Doubles Champs |
Diego Brunicardi & Erik Turnquist
Men’s 40 Doubles
Men’s 50 Doubles
|Paul Cole, Jim Katterfield, T. A. Niles, |
& Frank Swope
|50 Dubs Finalists Jim Katterfield & Paul Cole|
In the first set of the Final, it appeared as though Frank and I (mostly I) were ungrateful for the gift we received, and we dropped the set 1-6. It didn’t hurt their cause that Paul served and returned like he was auditioning for the Sony Ericsson, and Katman was volleying demon.
|Paul Cole & Jim Katterfield|
Women’s 40 Doubles
Cindy LeProvost and Susie Brown claimed the Women's 40 Doubles title by edging past the game team of Elizabeth Burger and Kim Franklin. LeProvost and Brown dropped the first set 4-6, before rebounding to take the second 6-3. The third-set super-tiebreak was dramatic, with LeProvost and Brown taking it 10-8.
Mixed 40 Doubles
|Trish Faulkner & Frank Swope|
Frank and Trish didn't lose another game in the match, nor did they lose one in the first set of their following match. In the Final they faced Robin Keener and Mark Harrison, who had not given up a single game in their semifinal match-up with Susie Brown and Bob Grossman. I'll provide info on the Final when I have it.
Mixed Open Doubles
I'm not sure whether one would consider this good fortune or not, but from one perspective, the tennis gods smiled on Andy Lake and Ioana Paun, who became Champions when
Tye Myers and Marine Spiegel withdrew. Lake and Paun's semifinal opponents also withdrew, so without striking a ball, they claimed the Championship. I'm sure they will look forward to defending next year.
|Linesman & Todd Ruedisili|
Congratulations to all the champions and finalists, and thanks to the tournament staff, and officials for their efforts in making the 2012 USPTA National Clay Court Championships an experience to remember. And I think it's important to remember that event sponsors play as important a role as anyone in making the event what it is. In addition to BallenIsles Country Club, those sponsors include: USPTA, Courtside USA, Welch Tennis Courts, Fast-Dry Courts, 10-S Supply, Aer-flo, Stan Oley's Tennis Equipment, and Drs. Howard and Joanne Green.