The weather was calling for 25% chance of rain which was about the same chance of any given team winning two matches on Thursday night. Each team came into the semi-finals with great expectations and a lot of confidence to take home the crown.
Aronimink came down 252 to Waynesborough in the hopes of not only securing their first court against Waynesborough this season but also of wining this big match. Unfortunately for the squad, they were down Drew Friel and Neil Bozentka which was going to be tough to play without. First off the court on court 4 Aronimink’s John Stefanik and Rick Craft took a hard fought match over Keith Studnick and Jim Ryan that ended in the third set tiebreaker 10-8 in favor of the Mink. This victory would be the only court they would win this evening as Way took courts 1 &2 with court 3 being declared a tie as Waynesborough had won 7 sets.
On Court 1, Team Vlatko and “the still undefeated” Steve Beers took down Andrew Sorrentino and Brendan Kirk winning 2 out of 3 sets. On Court 2, Tim “Mr. Hall of Fame” Mcavoy and his trusty old stead Hank Oberly battled back from being down in the first set to win in a tie-breaker and then won sets 2 & 3 over Pete Pijawk and Cliff McGlaughlin. On Court 3, the real battle ensued (in more ways than one) as Tom Safford and Bruce Sopko were in a dual with Gerry Farley and Parker Sherry when it was discovered that after splitting sets, Waynesborough had won 7 sets and the victory.
Everyone was awaiting the outcome at Waynesborough of the Wallingford Overbrook match which also came down to a 7 sets to 5 victory with Overbrook wining the match. On Court 1, Greg Eger and Steve Hall defeated Mike Furman and Jeff Shrager. On court 2 Overbrook’s Jon Adams and Tom Burt took down Mike McGrath and Tim Brooke. Wallingford was able to win courts 3 & 4 as Brennan Terregrossa and Ken Crowther defeated Andy Tomson and John Phelan on court 3.
On Court 4, Ed Hughes and Ray Johnston defeated Ken Croney and Ted Smith. Not many anticipated this outcome, but many saw the Overbrook squad getting tougher week after week. In their last 6 matches going into the finals they had only dropped court 1 twice in the last 6 weeks and have been undefeated on court 2 going back 11 weeks.
The stage was set for a terrific final between one team that definitely is very top heavy against a team that attempts to maintain a balance on their four courts. Captain Safford explained his strategy this way, “Any week that I can get a member to share in a personal or business event, is a win for my squad. Not many teams can count on a top rated player in the country to be the first of the bench.” Fortunately for us Paul “Mr. TastyKake Ridder could not attend this year’s Semi or Final due to personal reasons and we had Vlatko available for the evening.”
At approximately 8:45, the Overbrook 8 showed up and appeared ready to dethrone the current champions, unfortunately they only showed up with 7 paddles as one of their players in celebration of their semi-final victory left their paddle at Overbrook. Captain Steve Hall produced his line-up which was the same as he had in the Semi-final and as a shock to everyone Captain Safford did the same. The biggest question of the evening was if Waynesborough could break through and win at either or both courts 1 and 2 as they felt very confident on courts 3 & 4 as they had only lost twice on court 3 two times this season, and had won on court 4 – twelve out of the last fourteen matches.
Vlatko playing again with Steve “and still undefeated” Beers on Court 1 took the first two hard fought sets against Hall and Eger to set the stage for the evening. Vlatko after the match stated “I felt like I was in that movie Saving Private Ryan and my job was to see a successful evening with Steve and guide him home with a season of being undefeated. I did not want to be the first one to lose with Steve but the pressure was on as Hall and Eger were also undefeated as a team this season.
On Court 3, Sopko and Captain Tom proved too strong for Tomson and Phelan as they made very short work of their three sets to ensure that they had two courts under their belts. Shortly after that match, McAvoy and Oberly took Court 2 in straight sets which clinched the evening for Waynesborough. Due to some equipment issues on Court 4, the Studnick/Ryan match versus Croney/Smith was declared a draw after two split sets as Waynesborough won the three necessary courts.
Waynesborough proved to be too tough in the play-offs as they only dropped 2 courts in their 3 matches against some great competition. Captain Tom proved once again that with the right attitude and player combinations, he can put a tough product on four courts when the chips are down. “This was a long season for us and my hat is off to Overbrook, Aronimink and Wallingford who each had treamendous seasons as well and kept us on our toes each and every match.”
Overall the D1 league has never been stronger in terms of quality teams and players which is a tribute to our local club pro’s that have the unenviable task for the most part of making paddle players out of tennis players but something is working. Special thanks goes out to the MAPTA board for supplying the beverages and the Pizza for the evening. For those keeping track, 28 pizzas for the evening was not enough to get us through the night as some players went home hungry but it appeared that all of the players and the spectators had a great night.
That’s it for this season, next season we welcome back after one season both Kennett Square and Vic Mead back in to the mix and we say goodbye to Picket Post and Philadelphia Country Club.
The major questions for next year are:
• Can Waynesborough Three Peat?
• Will Beers stay undefeated?
• Will Philly Country drop a single court in D2?
• Will Martins finally step up and create an uber team to compete for a championship?
• Who will Captain Derek recruit next season?
• Will we see more Zink?
• Will P-Cricket become the once dominate team that they were in seasons past?
• Will Aronimink’s players check the league calendar at the beginning of the season?
• Can Overbrook make it to the Finals two years in a row?
• Will Vlatko win the 9th Man of the Year Award for the 3rd year in a row?
See Everyone Next season – Hope you enjoyed the ride…