Over the weekend of November 9-10, the Cleveland Masters took place and two familiar foes faced off in the finals. For the third consecutive year, it was a battle of the two highest ranked teams from Pittsburgh as the 13th ranked team of Scott Kahler and Matt Riva played the 19th ranked pairing of Brett Engelsberg and Jeff McMaster. First, let’s see how both teams managed to navigate through the draw.
The quarterfinals saw the top seeded team of Kahler/Riva play the duo of Todd Wojtowski and Casey Vens. After trailing 5-3 in the opening set, Kahler/Riva righted the ship to win 7-5, 6-2. Next it was the 4th seeded team and hometown favorites, Eric Miller and Fayaz Bhanji and the newly formed team of Denny English and Guy Moore. Miller and Bhanji won all the important points on their way to a 6-4, 6-2 victory. In the bottom half of the draw, the 3rd seeded team from Pittsburgh, Ajay Khurana and Mike Wagner, defeated another new partnership for this season, Brian Heil and Wade Martin in 3 sets, 5-7, 6-3, 6-1. The final quarterfinal saw Engelsberg/McMaster defeat Cleveland’s Doug Bloom and Robbie Edelstein 6-3, 6-0.
The semifinals were played under the lights starting at 6pm with the grill cooking and the drinks flowing in the crowd. Kahler/Riva got off to a fast start against Bhanji/Miller and never looked back, advancing to the finals by a score of 6-1, 6-3. The other semifinal was an all-Pittsburgh affair between good friends. Engelsberg/McMaster took the first set 6-4 before Khurana/Wagner came storming back in the 2nd set 6-1. The veteran tandem of Engelsberg/McMaster regained the lead in the third set however, securing a 4-1 lead and eventually taking the set 6-3.
The finals were played under cool, windy conditions at the Cleveland Racquet Club. Kahler/Riva seemed to be in control of the match, jumping out to a 6-1, 3-1 lead before Engelsberg/McMaster mounted their comeback, taking the 2nd set in a tiebreak. The third set saw Kahler/Riva jump ahead 4-1, but once again they could not hold the lead and the final set went to a tiebreaker. With incredible shot-making from both teams the tiebreak seemed like it would never end. Each team held three match points before Kahler/Riva converted their fourth match point opportunity to take the title 6-1, 6-7, 7-6, with the final set tiebreak score being 13-11.
In the backdraws, English/Moore defeated Edelstein/Bloom to take the quarterfinal reprieve, while the Cleveland duo of David Lowe and Dan McLaughlin defeated Pittsburgh’s Scott McFaden and Matt Rogers in 3 sets in the 16s reprieve.