The weather felt more like a summer evening than typical March weather for the championships this evening. Four teams and their followers each came out with the hopes of knocking of either last years champion Aronimink or taking down this years champion Waynesborough at their house.
In the first Semi-finals, Merion was looking to make a run at Aronimink and claim their spot in the championships but could only muster up court 2 on the W side. Greg Eger and Jeff Lyon took 2 of 3 sets from Brendan Kirk and Gerry Farley. On Court 3, Drew Friel (you read that right) and Parker Sherry swept all three sets from Pascal Collard and Brian Crochiere. On court 4, Neil “Where’s the Pizza” Bozentka and Cliff McLaughlin also won all three sets over Tim Kent and Dan Gallagher. On Court 1, Andrew Sorrentino and Pete Pijawka were in the middle of a battle with Chip Morrow and Chaz Curtis when the match was determined that Aronimink was the winner and not completed.
In the other Semi-Finals, Waynesborough was looking to revenge last year’s semi-finals loss to P-Country. On Court 2, Vlatko “9 man award winner” Najdek and Paul Ridder swept all three sets off of Clay Hardon and Andrew Hocker. On Court 3, Bruce Sopko and Steve Beers swept all three sets off of Thomas and Norm, leaving WCC with just one more set to clinch their berth into the finals. On Court 4, Gardner Walling fresh of his 5 week rest came back with a vengeance teaming up with Peter Hill to take the first set off of Keith Studnick and Jim Ryan. In the second set, Studnick and Ryan battled back to take the set in a tie-breaker but dropped the third set tie breaker giving P-Country the court but giving WCC 7 sets and a shot at the championship. On Court 1, Tim McAvoy and Hank Oberly lost the first set in an epic first set tie-breaker at which point the match was called due to WCC insurmountable lead.
The finals were all set with by most accounts, the two best teams in the league. Aronimink and Waynesborough played 2x before this season with WCC wining both matches. Aronimink’s arrival at the WCC hut was met with great speculation as to how they would line up in this championship match. Captain Sorrentino stayed with his winning combinations from the Semi-finals breaking up the almost unstoppable Kirk and Friel and placing Friel on the third court.
Waynesborough has been know to mix up their line-up every once in a while and the final would be no exception as Captain Safford elected to sit Vlatko for the finals and go with an “All Member Team”. You could hear a pin drop in the WCC hut when his line-up was made. Spectators were calling him a mad man and that he has just threw out his best chance of taking home the prize. WCC lined up for only the second time this season based on their self-proclaimed ladder.
The finals proved to be quite competitive as 2 of the 4 matches split sets. The first off the court with a W for Waynesborough was the undefeated Court #4 team of Paul Ridder and Hank Oberly winning all three sets over Bozentka and McLaughlin coming back from set points down in the second set. Next off the court with a W for Waynesborough was the second court pair of Sopko and Beers taking the third set after dropping the second set with a big goose egg against Gerry Farley and Brendan Kirk. Waynesborough completed the courts 1 – 3 sweep with Captain Safford and Tim “Mr. I am going to be in the Hall of Fame next week” McAvoy over Captain Sorrentino and Pijawka. The court 4 match was called after two hard fought split sets between Studnick and Ryan and Friel and Sherry.
Only Disney could have made a more perfect ending to Waynesborough’s D-1 paddle season. The team proved that with the right talent, the right heart, and the right attitude all obstacles could be overcome. This team had some deep doubts early in the season as their fearless leader Tim McAvoy at the start of last season was in his second battle with cancer and by the end of the season was back on the court winning matches and supporting his teammates. This season, another of Waynesborough’s warriors was stricken with cancer. This time Steve Beers tackled his cancer head on and much like his teammate, managed to not only win the battle with the disease but also battle other nagging back injuries to join his teammates in support both on and off the court. Captain “The Mixologist” Safford managed to keep his squad guessing every week as he never fielded the same squad twice throughout the season and made his boldest move of the season at the very end by benching the highest ranked player in MAPTA prior to doing battle with Aronimink in the Finals. Hats off the Waynesborough as they completed the sweep of the regular season and the play-off championships.
There is more great paddle to watch as next week, the Nationals will be played all over the courts in Long Island. Our very own and very deserving Tim McAvoy is going to earn his spot in the Hall of Fame on Friday night at Huntington Country Club. You can follow the scores live on platformtennis.org.
If you are interested in participating in the inagural season of MAPTA summer paddle, contact Scott Falatek and he will put your name on the list.
Lastly, the D1 boys welcome back Huntingdon Valley into the league as their D2 stay was very short lived and also welcome Picket Post for the first time. Can either of these teams stay more than one season will be an interesting question for next season. We wish both Kennett and Vic Mead well into their D2 journey next year and also hope for them it’s a short one.
See Everyone Next season. Hope you enjoyed the ride…